Mallozzi ready for the next step
Looks like this year's election became a bit more interesting. Selectman Rob Mallozzi announced on Monday that he will run for First Selectman of New Canaan in November.
"I think it's time that I dive in," Mallozzi told the New Canaan News. "I had been thinking about this for some time now."
Mallozzi, 48, has served on the Board of Selectmen for four years. Originally he thought he would wait till he was in his 50s or 60s to run for the position but he thought there was no time like the present.
"I thought, what am I waiting for? I have been involved in public service for a long time and love what I do."
Mallozzi, a Republican, made the announcement Monday morning at his home with his wife of 21 years, Elizabeth Howland, and their two children, Robby IV, 17, and Kit, 15, both students at New Canaan High School. Fire Commissioner Roger Williams was also on hand to support Mallozzi as his campaign manager. Williams has helped Mallozzi with his campaigns since 2007. Mallozzi also has help on his campaign from a man by the name of Al Dupont, who happens to be a Democrat.
"No party has a monopoly of good ideas in this town," he said.
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When it came down to actually moving ahead with this decision, Mallozzi did not feel nervous at all.
"It feels natural for me," he said. "It does not feel like a big jump. I don't want to do this when I'm 70. I want to do this now. I am pretty ingrained in this community and I really love this town."
While Mallozzi has served on the Board of Selectmen for four years, his roots in New Canaan go very deep. In fact many residents in town probably know Mallozzi better through his family business, Bob's Sports. The store has been around for more than 70 years with Mallozzi himself taking over in 1984 after graduating from the University of Vermont with a degree in political science.
"Well, it's a family business," Mallozzi said when asked about how this election would affect his store. "And I am lucky to have family in the business."
In fact, it was the support of his family that really pushed him forward.
"Having my family 100 percent behind me was the clincher," he said. "Without them, this would not have been an easy decision. You know I didn't go to Wall Street or anywhere else after college. I came to work at Bob's Sports because I really love this town."
His experience with Bob's Sports led to an award as volunteer business leader of the year in 2007 awarded by the New Canaan Volunteer Center. In addition to being a merchant in town, Mallozzi has also served as a firefighter with the New Canaan Fire Co., No. 1. In fact, in 2005 the company named him Firefighter of the Year and in 2006 he received the President's citation for service and leadership.
Before and during his tenure as a selectman, Mallozzi has served various roles. He was a former chairman of The Fund For New Canaan, a former member of the Pandemic Flu Committee and a current member of New Canaan Emergency Operations Center. Additionally, he also chaired a committee that produced the 2007 downtown study.
As Selectman, he has had a firm stance on various topics but none as significant as the Long Range Planning Committee's initiative. From the very beginning, Mallozzi was not in lockstep with his colleagues, First Selectman Jeb Walker and Selectman Sally Hines, in approving money for the LRPC. His most recent decision on the project was to vote against appropriating $175,000 for Phase II of the endeavor.
"I am concerned with the dollars," Mallozzi said.
He stressed major concerns regarding spending $200,000, in total since $25,000 was spent on Phase I, on a plan he believes is not very popular or fiscally prudent.
"Are you confident as a committee that the public wants this?" he asked LRPC Chairman Christine Wagner at the meeting two weeks ago. "Because I am not confident, as a selectman, that they are.
If elected as first selectman this November, Mallozzi said he first and foremost wants to focus on the finances.
"We cannot just keep on borrowing," Mallozzi said, referring to the $13 million New Canaan owes in debt. "We need to be talking about needs and not wants this year."
He adamantly said that raising taxes would not be the answer while and that a more efficient government would help the process.
"Something's got to give," he said. "Whether it is concession with town employees or, I hate to say this, even reductions then that is something we might have to consider."
Mallozzi also touched on some other hot button issues in town including sidewalks, businesses and the Richmond Hill garage building. He believes that fixing Main Street should not be blocked by a proposal to adjust the sidewalks that he considers "an ancillary issue." Mallozzi said that Main Street serves as the "gateway to town" and needs to be repaved and fixed before anything else.
"It doesn't have to be glamorous," he said. "There is a big picture here but I want to talk about the nuts and bolts. If we do not do these things [like fix roads and potholes] then we don't have a town."
He also said more so than any of those things that he is excited to be a "voice of reason" for the public.
"People need to really feel that their government takes them seriously," he stressed.
Mallozzi will officially request the Republican Party's support at the next Republican Town Committee's meeting on March 14. He said he plans to have a website and bank account set up within the next few weeks.