Andy Palo, a momentary Chair of Trumbull’s Board of Finance, re-registered as a Democrat on July 5th.
Palo successfully sought election to the board in 2009 as part of the Herbst ticket. Pursuing his party’s nomination, he expressed “dismay” at the prior year’s 11.6% mill rate increase “during one of the most difficult economic periods in our lifetimes.”
On the board he has been a voice of moderation – typically seeking a bit more for our schools and a bit less on the town side. He is a regular attendee of Board of Education meetings; he is informed; he is well prepared for his board’s meetings. And he has the interests of taxpayers and parents at heart.
Palo Out, Hammers In
It was Palo’s refusal to join in the lockstep demanded by the First Selectman during the budget approval process during the spring of 2011 that brought his concerns into the open (at least to all but the closest observers).
But he had had earlier runs-ins with his compatriots. One started when then Chair Mark Smith tromped out of board meeting in a fit of pique during that budget cycle. Smith resigned, Vice Chair Palo became the new Chair.
The Trumbull Republican Town Committee named former board member Elaine Hammers to complete Smith’s term – as is their prerogative.
Ms. Hammers was a reasonable choice. The town and the board needed the new member who could quickly step into the ongoing budget process. Hammers has a long record of serving the town and understands its finances and the board’s procedures well. Opposition could only have been political.
In what was recounted to this writer as a hasty exercise of power, the First Selectman ousted Palo in favor of the new and unelected Ms. Hammers as the board’s Chair. Again, the only opposition could have been political. This it was.
Having perhaps a few times too often taken positions at odds with his former compatriots, he was ostracized from the Republican finance board caucus that meets regularly to discuss its agenda.
Deliberating for long months, he found his position, if not untenable, unrewarding. Few things are worse than being an unwanted volunteer.
Having made the change, he commented last week that he sees the Democratic party as “more inclusive... where a more fiscally conservative, socially moderate individual can exist.”
The Republicans’ loss is the Democrats’ gain. At a time when moderates are hard to come by, when compromise is becoming a fleeting skill and when too many take too narrow a view of what serves Trumbull best for the long term, Mr. Palo will be an asset to the Board of Finance, to Trumbull’s Democratic party and to the town itself.
Palo now joins Tom Tesoro and Steve Lupien – also former Republicans – as the Democratic contingent on the Board of Finance.