Democratic nominee for Greenwich First Selectman Bill Kelly and nominee for selectperson Janet Stone McGuigan opened up their reasons for running.
In the new Greenwich Library Café, Mr. Kelly drew up an impressive list of volunteer positions including the Representative Town Meeting (RTM), the Board of Estimate and Taxation (BET), and the Board of Education (BOE). He also served as the BOE liaison to the Board of Directors of Parks and Rec.
Mr. Kelly, a lawyer, and his wife Barbara, for 40 years, moved into their Old Greenwich home in 1993, and their daughters Elizabeth and Kristen attended Greenwich Public Schools.
“We came to Greenwich because of the great schools, low taxes and diversity. I didn’t want to raise my children in an isolated environment. I wanted them to be exposed, ”he said. “You had a great time at Greenwich High School.”
Elizabeth, now a lawyer, lives in Riverside with her husband and two daughters. Kristen, a medical doctor, is chief resident on Mt. Sinai ER. In 2005 she was the president of the Greenwich High School class.
Mr. Kelly is bursting with ideas for the First Selectman job, which he feels uniquely qualified for having lived in the city for nearly three decades and served on key city boards.
When asked about the location of a new Hamill Rink, he replied: “We will convert the (existing) site. That will be the end. We don’t touch the memorial or the ball field. “
When asked about Greenwich Ave upgrades, he said the job was about “management, leadership and judgment,” adding that the city was facing many problems.
“We have rising water and talking about outbreaks?” He asked, referring to the intersection improvements on Elm Street and Greenwich Ave and the five more planned after the police were no longer allowed to regulate traffic on Greenwich Avenue.
One change he wants to make is access to the park. In particular, he said the limited opening hours of Tod’s Point and the pool at Byram Park.
“Why does Byram Beach open at 11:00 AM?” he asked.
“Tod’s Point should be open from dusk to dawn,” he added. “You want something for everyone. Everyone who lives in Greenwich should have all the benefits of Greenwich and should not be restricted. “
He explained why he believes he is uniquely qualified for the First Selectman job.
“Firstly, I have experience with everything that falls within the scope of the First Selectman. Start with the Legal Department, ”he said, adding that as an attorney, he has worked and run law firms for 40 years.
“The legal department. Come on! The Republican Party determines who the Legal Department (prosecutor) will be, ”he said.
Second, he brought up the Greenwich Fire Department and remembered his involvement in what he called the Clifford Report.
I created the report after a major accident on Merritt Parkway required the Hurst Tool (aka Jaws of Life).
“The Greenwich Hurst tool was in Cos Cob when it should have been in Glenville, causing a delay. We interviewed around 20 firefighters and supervisors. Jimmy Clifford (formerly Glenville Fire) Department Fire Chief) and Joan Caldwell were on the committee. We called it ‘The Clifford Report’ because Jim was the chairman. “
“We called for these multiple replies to be stopped. There were fire engines everywhere in the city, ”he recalls. “You could have Sound Beach (fire department) responding to the Cos Cob area, or even the Central area, and the risk and safety that comes with it. The matrix report said you should stop and let individual engines respond. ”
“We said, ‘Stop running those trucks all over town.'”
Kelly said he served on BET’s Audit Committee and that Parks & Rec Director Joe Siciliano advised on a large number of unregistered boats in 2011.
“He said, ‘It’s an ongoing problem. We’re trying to get these people to register, but we can’t get them to. They won’t do it. ‘”
“I said, ‘Joe, it’s our property. We’ll burn the boats. They tell them we’re going to burn the unregistered boats in a campfire in two weeks ‘time.’ Three weeks later, all but a few were registered. If you have rules, enforce them. Otherwise no rules. “
On the subject of enforcement, Kelly said in 1994, when he joined the Claims Committee, which includes litigation against the city, lawsuits are routinely resolved.
“It was, ‘Okay, the outside lawyer says we should come to terms. And I teamed up with a lot of my Republican counterparts and said, ‘Enough. We’re a patsy over in the superior court in Stamford. We will no longer be lazy. ‘”
At the time he said the city attorney was John Meerbergen. “He was a very good trial attorney. I said, ‘John, you’re going to try some cases over there,’ ”he recalled.
“We just stopped paying and took some cases to court,” he recalls. “The whole perception of Greenwich has changed at the Stamford Supreme Court.”
Kelly served on the Claims Committee from 1994. He stayed there until he was elected to the Board of Education in 1999, where he served two four-year terms that ended in 2007.
“We did a lot of really good things on the Board of Education. Sandy Waters was the chairman. “
He remembered the Greenwich High School principal bragging about the school giving 400 AP tests and the average score being 4.1.
“I said, ‘Sorry, but aren’t there 700 seniors and 700 juniors, why are there only 400 tests?’ I said nonsense, ”he said. “This AP gatekeeping has to go.”
Referring to the formidable GHS study guide that rivals that of a college, Kelly said the BOE has shifted decision-making to the students themselves.
“Increased from 400 AP tests to 1,200 tests in just a few years. And our 4.1 went to 3.8. All these kids, all these years, could have taken AP. Our education committee did that. I think it will change lives and save parents college money. “
He particularly recalled fellow board members Ginny Gwynn, Genny Krob and Sandy Waters: “We have done amazing things. We had a great time.”
“We calculated 650 hours of volunteering per year,” he added. “We liked and respected everyone on the board. Nobody there was the bad guy. We had a great time and we respected each other. “
Kelly said he waded into the city council for the first time right after moving to the city hall. He said Coline Jenkins recruited him for the RTM after publicly speaking out in favor of the pavilions at Tod’s Point.
“We all need shade, that’s a good thing. We’re not Cape Cod or Martha’s Vineyard. ”He laughed as he said he learned there was an opening and was elected with only four votes. He served with the RTM for six years.
“I think pretty much everyone in town should join the RTM at some point,” he said. “You find out how the city works. In more than 90% of the cases, the RTM gets it right. You have conservatives and liberals. They ultimately merge around the right thing. That was my feeling after six years. “
Kelly said he worked with Parks & Rec Joe Siciliano on a Sense of the Meeting Resolution (SOMR) in January 1998 to re-prioritize the duties of the city’s sports fields.
“Back then, children couldn’t get fields – they were really tight. I went to the town hall and said we need to fix the field situation. There are more children and we need more fields. They said, ‘Oh no, we can’t do that. We assign them based on who had them a year ago. ‘”
“So does some fat old softball player take precedence over young children? I’ve made a decision. I was in constant communication with (Parks Rec Director) Joe Siciliano and we agreed on a SOMR. I have 25 signatures. I brought the SOMR to the RTM. “
“We said, ‘We have made an agreement in the spirit of the meeting that from now on, the children of Greenwich Schools will be the first priority in the field. Greenwich children are second priority. The third priority is for adults in Greenwich and the fourth priority is for others. “
Kelly has also been with BET for four years.
Ms. Stone McGuigan said her interests went well with those of Mr. Kelly.
“I think we’ll compliment each other. I’m getting out of a lot of community boards and have extensive experience in town. “
Stone McGuigan stepped down from the board of directors of LWV Greenwich to run for Selectperson and ended her tenure as co-president of GHS Band Boosters that year as her younger son graduated from GHS in the 2021 class.
“With my two boys in college now, it is time to take my service in the city to the next level. I am definitely experienced and qualified. “
Stone McGuigan holds dual degrees in civil engineering and economics and a master’s in public policy. She worked in the field of environmental policy as a political analyst in a think tank for environmental economics. She has also acted as a mediator in state regulatory negotiations.
Topics that inspire her, she says, are drinking water, wind energy, and mixed water overflows.
“My husband is from Greenwich, but we’ve moved a lot,” added Stone McGuigan. “We moved here in 2006. I was at home with the children and started working for the PTA and the PTA Council for 8 years. “
She also said she chairs the Greenwich Jr League fund development committee and is still a long-term advisor.
She has since resigned from the LWV to run for Selectperson.
She also serves in the RTM and is a deputy on the education committee.
As if that weren’t enough, the board of directors of the Chamber of Industry and Commerce and the committee chairman for a scout group are among the other volunteers.
Mr. Kelly agreed that he and Stone McGuigan have a similar approach.
“It’s about good management, leadership and collaboration,” he said. “Janet and I bring this.”