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Keegan set to leave Norwalk Common Council – and the city

SoNo school a topic; Burney retiring

Common Council member Thomas Keegan (R-District D) in February 2020.

Updated, 3:28 p.m.: More information.

NORWALK, Conn. — Some Norwalk political news for you:

  • Lone Council Republican moving to Florida
  • More mystery as hopes for South Norwalk school continue
  • Personnel Director is retiring

Keegan has his bags packed

Tom Keegan, the only Republican to get elected to the Common Council in the last two municipal elections, is moving to Florida, he said.

Keegan said he’s leaving July 1. He represents District D and was first elected in 2019, winning a seat formerly held by veteran Council member Doug Hempstead, who has largely been out of the political picture since that election.

“We will really miss Tom,” Acting Norwalk Republican Town Committee Chairman Fred Wilms wrote Wednesday. “Not only is he a great guy, but he has been a wonderful, wonderful public servant. He has been dedicated, hard working and focused on policies that make Norwalk a better place. With Tom, Norwalk has always come first; party has come last.”

“Tom Keegan leaving is a blow for all Norwalkers,” said John Romano, RTC District D Chairman. “Tom has done a stellar job looking after the interests for all residents and is the voice of reason on the council. Well respected by the ‘D’’S as well.”

The Norwalk Republican Town Committee’s District D members will vote to name a replacement to Keegan in a process similar to the one used by the Democratic Town Committee in January to name a new District E Board of Education member. Although that generated controversy for the DTC, this is a process defined by State Statute.

The RTC’s bylaws specify that each district can have up to 20 elected RTC members. District D is fully staffed in that way, with 20 volunteers eligible to cast a vote.

“We are talking to several people right now who have shown an interest,” Romano said. “I am sure whomever is selected will start shadowing Tom sometime in May ahead of his departure.”

Keegan jokes about his status as minority leader, given that he’s alone in his caucus. He said he’s moving to Sarasota County because he’s “taking advantage of the current real estate market and it’s time.”

Keegan is a retired Greenwich Police lieutenant but said he’s been doing “traffic pretty much everyday for contractors” and is now hope he can “retire/retire.”

“We will miss Tom and wish him and Lori the best in their well deserved retirement,” Romano said. “They are both wonderful people. Our loss will be Florida’s gain.”

 

Council looks to acquire property ‘for school purposes’ – again

Common Council members ended their Tuesday meeting with an executive session to discuss a legal memorandum regarding land acquisition. after more than 40 minutes, they emerged and unanimously voted to allow Building and Facilities Manager Alan Lo to work with the City’s legal department to “negotiate a purchase price for the parcel sites identified” in that legal memorandum, under the parameters described in said confidential memo, to acquire the properties “for school purposes.”
In February, the Council voted to officially nix the plan to build a new school behind the Nathaniel Ely preschool center and shift capital appropriations away from that plan and from the planned renovation of the existing Columbus Magnet School, instead allocating the funds toward the mysterious plan for a South Norwalk neighborhood school.

As part of that, the Council approved a nearly identical resolution. The only difference is the date of the legal memo in questions. The first one was written Dec. 29 and the one voted on Tuesday was written March 18. Both were authored by Assistant Corporation Counsel Darin Callahan.

Norwalk Chief of Staff Laoise King, who is available during late night hours, said she could not elaborate on what was done.

 

Burney headed back to retirement

Director of Personnel and Labor Relations Ray Burney is retiring. Or has retired.

Burney, serving as a City employee, on March 3 told Board of Estimate and Taxation members that “it may not seem this way, but I retired on January 1.”

Mayor Harry Rilling said, “We’re waiting on someone of his quality, which is very hard to find.”

Burney, in a follow-up email to NancyOnNorwalk, said he’s retiring “Soon, not yet.”

“I told the Mayor I would stay on until we at least interview some replacement candidates,” he said, predicting that will happen this week. “I am sure I will be around for most of April.  But yes, I will be leaving the City sometime in the near future to travel, fish, golf and play with my granddaughter.”

Burney was described as a Long Island retiree when he was hired in 2017.

3 comments

John Levin March 24, 2022 at 7:40 am

Tom Keegan has been a tireless and thoughtful contributor to our small city. Few will know the half of it And Tom has been an outstanding credit and model for our local republican party. His shoes will be difficult to fill, but I suppose when a person reaches a certain age, maybe 145 or whatever, some changes easily can be justified. I hope that Tom, no longer encumbered as an elected office holder, will share his wisdom and insight in the comment sections of NancyOnNorwalk in the years to come. Mr. Keegan, you are a class act.

John O'Neill March 24, 2022 at 5:26 pm

@ John — I second your opinion. Tom Keegan is a Tremendous guy and his work with kids over the years should be congratulated. This is not a slight to the others on the Council, but Tom Keegan has actually “walked the walk” with underprivileged kids in Norwalk. Congrats to Tom and Family. Maybe we’ll get lucky and his house sale will fall thru !

Justin Matley March 25, 2022 at 12:32 pm

I like Tom! All the best to him and relaxing in sunny Florida. I only object to him going down in July… yuck! 🙂

Be well, Mr. Keegan! I know this community will miss you.

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