2016-11-17 / Front Page

Sylvia Takes Helm for Second Term

By Olga Enger

The new Middletown Town Council has appointed Robert Sylvia to serve as Town Council president for a second consecutive term.

“We had a good working group over the past two years. We had a lot of fresh, new ideas. It’s a really good group. I think things are going well, why change it,” said Councilor Paul Rodrigues, who was the top vote-getter on Election Day.

The new council met on Sunday, Nov. 13, to vote on the leadership and town appointments, where Rodrigues was named vice chair. They returned Peter Regan as town solicitor, Robert Silva as Municipal Court judge, and Michael Miller as Probate Court judge. The appointments are unofficial until the swearing-in ceremony to be held Monday, Nov. 21, at 7 p.m. at Middletown High School.

On Election Day, Rodrigues was followed by incumbents Theresa Santos, Sylvia, Barbara VonVillas, Rick Lombardi, Antone Viveiros and newcomer Dennis Turano. Council Vice President Robert Kempenaar did not seek re-election.

Rodrigues also won the most votes in the 2014 election.

When asked why he didn’t throw his hat in the ring for the presidency, Rodrigues said it was a matter of the time commitment.

“I help coach baseball with my son. He’s my number one priority. The presidency requires a lot of responsibilities and duties outside of meetings,” said Rodrigues.

Sylvia said he is “humbled” that his colleagues put him back in the leadership position.

“I think we have done a great job in the last two years. I sincerely mean that. We have addressed a lot of issues. We didn’t leave a lot of things hanging up in the air,” said Sylvia. All six incumbents on the ballot were re-elected, which is a testament to the town’s satisfaction with local government, he added.

Sylvia and Rodrigues both pointed to taxes as a priority for the next term.

“Affordability is always on the forefront of my mind,” said Rodrigues. “I want to maintain the same quality of services, but to make it affordable for people to live here and stay here.” He also hopes to put a long-term plan in place for the town’s failing roads. Almost 85 percent of voters approved a $5 million bond for the rehabilitation and improvement of Middletown streets and sidewalks.

“We have a good start with this bond, but I’d like to implement some type of road plan, with money set aside specifically for roads every single year. We already set aside $650,000. I’d like to take that money and add to it.”

The majority of Middletown residents also supported a $10 million bond to finance repairs and improvements to the town’s school buildings, which will be accompanied with a 39 percent reimbursement from state housing aid.

“We have a council that is seasoned, but is extremely active. It is always looking for ways to cut costs, without sacrificing quality of life. I’m fortunate to be part of the council,” said Sylvia.

In addition to welcoming back his colleagues, the council president looks forward to working with the newest member.

“Turano is an intelligent guy. He’s a lifelong resident, and I think he will focus on what is right for the town. It’s nice to muddy the water a bit, shake things around a bit,” said Sylvia.

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