This is a two-part series in preparation for the election. Stay tuned for our conversation with the Democratic Party candidates next week!
With Election Day just a few weeks away, the race for First Selectman in Greenwich is heating up. After six terms in the position, Peter Tesei is not running, so the position he will vacate in December will be one of the most watched of this election season. To help save busy parents some time, we reached out the candidates for both parties—Republicans Fred Camillo (First Selection) and Lauren Rabin (Selectman) as well as Democrats Jill Oberlander (First Selectman) and Sandy Litvak (Selectman)—to quickly get to know them a bit better, including their backgrounds, what’s important to them and their plans for Greenwich if elected. This week, we will feature the response from the Republicans, and next week, the Democrats!
Can you please tell me a bit about your history in Greenwich, including your family and background.
Fred: I am a fourth generation Greenwich native and grew up in Cos Cob. I was raised by a retired Marine Drill Sergeant after losing, at the age of five, my mother to cancer and my sister to childhood leukemia. My early childhood taught me the importance of family and of embracing life in the moment. My dad, second mom, brother, and sister helped in those lessons as did my love of animals, which stemmed from my father building a small farm on our property to help ease the pain of my loses and teach me how to care for others. I consider Greenwich my extended family and my desire to serve is reflected in those early years.
Lauren: My Mom was a single parent and we moved from Harrison, NY to Cos Cob when I was nine-years-old because of the reputation of the Greenwich Public Schools and the fact that there was no state income tax. When my husband and I were first married in 1989, we lived in an apartment in Stamford, but quickly purchased a home in Greenwich after the birth of our first son in 1990. I have two sons, Scott who is 29 and Eric who is 26.
What do you love most about living in this area?
Fred: I love everything about my hometown. Whether you are referring to our beautiful shoreline, our backcountry or our diverse and distinct neighborhoods, our town is a treasure. However, what really sets Greenwich apart is our people. Greenwich benefits in countless ways by the efforts of a community with a broad array of talents and, more importantly, the willingness to share those gifts. Volunteerism is alive and well in Greenwich, and it is what I love most about living here.
Lauren: The town also has amazing amenities, services and activities for residents of all ages and when combined with its low tax rates Greenwich is hard to beat. I have traveled extensively throughout our country and internationally and I ALWAYS want to come home to Greenwich.
Why did you decide to run for office? Was there an “aha” moment?
Fred: I love representing Greenwich in Hartford but being First Selectman would bring me home to serve more closely the town I love. When Peter Tesei decided to not seek a seventh term, and when I witnessed that some in town were, and are, advocating for policies that have ruined our state’s economy, I decided that I would do everything I can to prevent that from happening. I also have ideas to transform the town in ways that build upon past successes while revitalizing policies, procedures, and properties.
Lauren: I loved my experience on the Board of Education, but the opportunity to run for the Board of Selectmen alongside Fred was something I could not pass up. It also provided me with a platform where I felt I could serve my community in a more impactful way.
What are the Top 3 things you would like to accomplish?
Fred: As First Selectman, I would address town properties that are under used, dormant, and or in need of re-purposing. I would seek to incorporate public/private partnerships in any new projects being proposed. Environmentally, I would endeavor to make Greenwich the envy of the state with a focus on energy policy, aesthetics, conservation, recycling, and quality of life issues. Lastly, I will fight to keep our mill rate low and avoid the mistakes of Hartford and other municipalities who incurred too much long-term debt.
Lauren: 1) Unify our community; Partisanship has made our local discourse more divisive so if we can bridge that divide our community will be stronger and more effective. 2) Improve communication and transparency between Town Hall, our residents and the business community. 3) Help implement ways to deliver town services more efficiency and effectively though use of technology, consolidation and public/private partnerships.
Can you describe your professional background and any previous political service?
Fred: I started several small businesses beginning at the age of nineteen. Later, I became a founding Member of, and later the Director of the Greenwich Recycling Company. This company set the standard in Connecticut for recycling. I put myself through college at age 29 earning a BA in Political science/history, and received a master’s in education a few years later. I maintained my businesses as I attended college, then taught high school history, and worked in banking and real estate. My public service started in my mid-20s with athletics. I coached high school baseball and basketball as well as in the Summer leagues. In my 30s, I served on the RTM for three and a half terms, was Chairman of the Board of Parks & Recreation, Chaired the Greenwich Republican Town Committee, and in 2008, was elected to the first of my six terms in the Connecticut General Assembly as the state representative for the 151st District. I have served on dozens of committees, boards, and task forces, both here in Greenwich and at the state capitol in Hartford.
Lauren: I have spent the last 35 years working in the high-tech industry in Marketing, Communications and Training roles. I recently left Gartner in Stamford to focus the majority of my time running for Selectman and completing year-4 of my term on the Board of Education (where I currently serve on the Budget (Chair), Labor Negotiations (former-chair), MISA Building, GHS Student Government and Food Services Committees). I spent two terms as an elected member of the Representative Town Meeting for District 9 in Glenville and was an appointed member of the Board of Human Services.
Anything else you want people to know about you?
Fred: I am running for First Selectman because I have a vision of revitalization that would benefit all of us. I am not interested in merely being a good steward of Greenwich, I want to be a transformative leader. I pride myself in my ability to reach out to people of all backgrounds and working across the aisle to bring together the best ideas and turn them into realities. As Harry Truman said, “It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.”
Lauren: One area that is close to my heart is the physical, mental and emotional health of our residents, especially our youth and seniors. This is an area that I feel deserves more focus and one where I think we can deliver better results for our community.