Words Of Praise, Admiration Follow Llodra Announcement
It did not take more than a few hours after First Selectman Pat Llodra’s announcing her planned retirement this December for well-wishes and reflections on her many leadership qualities to begin pouring in to The Newtown Bee.
The four-term elected leader and longtime community volunteer said that she decided the time was right to devote her full energies to her family and home when her current term expires on November 30.
Among the first e-mails came from Senator Tony Hwang (R-28), whose district encompasses Newtown.
“Friend. Mentor. Leader. These are but a few of the words that come to mind when I think of Pat Llodra,” Sen Hwang stated. “It has been an honor to work with her for the betterment of Newtown. She is tireless, she is selfless, and she is strong. Pat’s emphasis on commitment to community and simple acts of kindness has had — and will continue to have — a positive influence on how we live our lives. Simply put, Pat Llodra loves Newtown and its people. She is a very special person — someone I admire greatly — and I wish her nothing but the very best in the future.”
The rest of Newtown’s legislative delegation was not far behind. Representative Mitch Bolinsky (R-116) said he and others suspected “this day was coming and Pat would eventually not run again.”
“Now that it is here, I sincerely believe that the shoes she leaves will never quite be filled,” Rep Bolinsky said.
“Individually, I see Pat as so much more than just an outstanding leader. As our municipal CEO she’s built a stable Newtown that’s better poised for the future than nearly all other Connecticut communities. But this good work is not what emblazons Pat Llodra on Newtown’s history. Pat will always be defined for her sheer resilience, even in the most unimaginable circumstances. I believe her to be the modern spirit of Newtown, holding the community together, deftly managing a crisis for which no game plan existed.”
Rep Bolinsky also said he regarded Mrs Llodra as a fair, responsive, and responsible municipal leader.
“She makes tough decisions based on facts and consensus, knowing full well that not all community members will agree with every decision or policy,” Rep Bolinsky added. “That’s okay because, in politics, regardless of the good you try to do and pains to which you go to, to always do the very best for your constituents, there will always be detractors. Pat handles this particularly well, with an open ear, open mind, and respect, especially for those who might be less than totally respectful themselves. In my book, this is the epitome of class.”
Representative JP Sredzinski (R-112) also recalled Mrs Llodra’s leadership during times of crises.
“From three major storms to the Sandy Hook School tragedy; from the significant progress with Fairfield Hills to improving communication from town government; from multiple municipal projects to improving our bond rating; First Selectman Pat Llodra has been the personification of leadership,” Rep Sredzinski said. “Decisive, intelligent, compassionate, thoughtful, and most of all — a consistent leader. It has been an absolute joy working with Pat, and I have learned a great deal from her. I congratulate her on the much-deserved retirement.”
Freshman Representative Will Duff (R-2) added, “Although I haven’t gotten to know Pat very well in my short time as a legislator, I do know one thing, she loves Newtown. Her leadership and thoughtfulness will be missed by all residents of Newtown.”
Newtown Superintendent of Schools Joseph V. Erardi, Jr. remarked, “I have been blessed to work with some of the finest administrators in Connecticut and in this nation. I see Pat as first in line as she leads with extraordinary integrity, honesty, intelligence, and heart. The highest compliment I believe I can share about anyone centers on trust. I trust Pat as a leader, colleague, and as a friend.”
Her Democratic colleague on the Board of Selectmen and former First Selectman Herb Rosenthal said the entire community should appreciate the steady leadership that Mrs Llodra has provided over the years.
“This was particularly important along with the compassion and support that she provided not only for the families of the victims, but also for all Newtown residents in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook School tragedy,” Mr Rosenthal said.
“I have known Pat and we have had a good relationship since her days on the Newtown Board of Education and when my oldest daughter, Julie, and Pat’s older daughter, Sharon, were in high school together,” her fellow selectman added. “Pat also served on the Legislative Council while I was first selectman and now we are colleagues on the Board of Selectmen. During all of those years, while we may not have always agreed on every issue, our relationship has never been disagreeable and I thank Pat for her long and dedicated service to the people of Newtown.”
Former selectman and current Board of Finance member James Gaston, Sr, also said he has known Mrs Llodra and members of her family for a long time.
“Pat truly is a special person. She is kind, yet firm, a natural leader yet always interested in learning your thoughts and opinions,” Mr Gaston said. “It has been a sincere pleasure working with her in my capacities as selectman, warden of the Borough, and as chair and vice chair of the Board of Finance. Rarely have we been unable to come to consensus on important town matters. There is no question that Newtown has been extremely fortunate and well served through her selfless dedication. Knowing Pat has made me not only a better elected official, but a better person. I hope to continue to learn from her over the years. Congratulations, thank you, and well done, my friend.”
Current finance board Chairman John Godin called Mrs Llodra a tireless public servant who has served Newtown with distinction as first selectman over the last eight years.
“Her calm demeanor, poise, and grace was a source of stability for our town when we experienced challenging economic times, adverse weather events, and a national tragedy that will leave a mark on our community forever,” Mr Godin said. “Pat’s love for her job was obvious but her love of Newtown was even greater. Thank you for all your years of service to our community.”
Board of Education Chairman Keith Alexander extended thanks to the departing first selectman for her support for education throughout her tenure.
“She has worked hard to present a united budget over the years working with her staff, the Board of Education, and our superintendents to keep our roads in good shape, support our excellent school system, and ensure the safety and security of all residents,” Mr Alexander said. “Pat’s handling of our tragedy followed her dedication to ensuring the town has the resources it needs to thrive. She worked with the Town of Monroe to ensure that we could use the facility they offered us as quickly as possible to get our students into a safe learning environment and then immediately went on to work with the governor and state representatives on funding for a school so we could bring our students back to in town.”
The school board leader added, “Pat has been able to strike a balance in town when issues get divisive. She doesn’t back down from her position but rather she opens the conversation and allows everyone to bring in opinions and suggestions. Pat’s steady resolve in working for the people of Newtown will be missed.”
Republican Town Committee leader and former Legislative Council and Charter Revision Commission Chairman Jeff Capeci said he has known Mrs Llodra since they served their freshman terms on the Legislative Council in 2005.
“I have always been impressed by her love of Newtown, her understanding of the issues and the common sense solutions she advocates for,” Mr Capeci said. “As first selectman, Pat has proven to be a great leader for Newtown. She truly did step up to the many challenges that were thrust upon her during her tenure and we are a better and stronger community as a result. I wish her well in retirement but I am optimistic that her dedication means that her service to our town will continue but in a different capacity.”
US Senator Chris Murphy remarked, “Pat is an amazing public servant. She’s been a great partner to us in the congressional delegation and we’re going to miss her; but I have a feeling that everyone in Newtown is going to be drawing on her counsel for years to come. I’m so proud to have been her friend and colleague.”
US Senator Richard Blumenthal said, “Pat Llodra led Newtown with unparalleled compassion and strength through the most challenging times imaginable. She has always put community first— inspiring the nation through her courage and grace. I have no doubt that she will continue to contribute mightily to Newtown in retirement.”
US Rep Elizabeth Esty called Mrs Llodra an exceptional and inspirational leader for Newtown, Connecticut, and the nation.
“In circumstances that would reduce most of us to despair or anger or helplessness, Pat has persevered, demonstrating selflessness, steadiness, resolve, and caring,” Rep Esty said. “We owe an enormous debt of gratitude to her for being an exceptional public servant in the truest sense of the term. Pat has become a dear friend as well as a mentor, and I thank her personally for helping reaffirm my faith in democracy and citizen servants. I wish Pat and her husband, Bob, all good things and much more time to spend with their children and grandchildren.”
Paul Lundquist (D), vice chairman, Legislative Council, said he worked with Mrs Llodra on and off for the past decade, most recently in his role on the council.
“I will always view her leadership style as a definitive and aspirational example of how to effectively combine a number of positive dimensions that are all too often forgotten in today’s political landscape,” Mr Lundquist said. “She’s eloquent and thoughtful while remaining direct and decisive. She’s been a natural mentor and perennial teacher, which has served to reinforce her openness, interest in others’ opinions, and willingness to discuss any issue.”
He observed that Mrs Llodra’s perspective nearly always superseded party politics, and her decisionmaking included consideration of the viewpoint of ordinary Newtowners.
“And although our opinions could often differ, she always tried to lead our town with a depth of caring that reflects her 40-plus years as a resident, while also thinking progressively about the best path for our town’s future,” Mr Lundquist said. “My hope is that all of this will be something future leaders can strive to emulate when considering how they might try to fill her shoes. It surely won’t be easy. Thank you, Pat, for all of your years of service to Newtown. You’ll be missed.”
Robert Mitchell said as chair of the Public Building and Site Commission, “I have been working hand-in-hand with Pat for the past eight years. During that time, we worked to define PBSC as a commission stressing a collaborative interaction between the town and the project team creating a continuing series of successful projects that have enhanced the character of Newtown. Four of those years were devoted to the rebirth of the Sandy Hook School. This was a singular experience that would not have been possible without the commitment and vision of Pat.”