By Elizabeth F. McNamara
It was standing room only for the swearing in Monday night of the new Town Council and four new members of the School Committee. When Superior Court Judge Brian Stern (a resident) swore in the Town Council – returning Mark Schwager and newcomers Mike Donegan, Renu Englehart, Caryn Corenthal and Mike Zarrella – the room erupted in applause which bloomed into a standing ovation.
The new Town Council is sworn in. pic.twitter.com/TO9HpZMP70
— East Greenwich News (@egreenwichnews) November 27, 2018
After they were sworn in, they held a brief meeting to elect a president and vice president. It was no surprise to anyone when the new council voted in Mark Schwager as its president. He replaces Sue Cienki, who lost her bid for re-election earlier this month. Now, after two years of being the lone man out in many votes, Schwager is going to be setting the agenda, and has a council of five Democrats.
Mike Donegan, former head of the Planning Board, was voted in as vice president.
Town Manager Gayle Corrigan was the master of ceremonies, bidding farewell to the councilors who brought her to East Greenwich and hired her three separate times to fill the town manager role while welcoming in the new council, which ran on a platform of getting rid of her.
In her remarks, Cienki told the new council, “You are about to embark on a terrific opportunity to govern the town. It will not be easy. You will have your critics. But public service is an honor and a privilege and I’m sure you will each rise to the occasion.”
Cienki had taken her final day in office to send out one last email missive to town residents – the third such message since the election. This one (Cienki Exit Letter 11/26/18) listed all the financial challenges facing the town and this parting shot:
“We know with 100% clarity, what the root causes of our financial challenges are. Will the new Council immerse themselves in the labor contract negotiations and educate themselves sufficiently on the economic impact to the residents, or acquiesce to skilled union negotiators who continue to use unpleasant techniques to apply financial and political pressure?”
Monday night, however, was a time for jubilation. After the four School Committee members were sworn in – returning Lori McEwen, and newcomers Gene Quinn, Alyson Powell and Anne Musella – the nine officials spent about 45 minutes greeting friends, family and town employees in a receiving line of hugs and laughter.
Among those in attendance were a few former East Greenwich employees who had lost their jobs over the past two years, including former Fire Chief Russ McGillivray (now working for the state Emergency Management Agency), and Finance Director Kristin Benoit (now finance director for West Warwick). Several firefighters, in addition to the color guard, also attended.
The Town Council’s first regular meeting is Thursday at 7 p.m. in Council Chambers at Town Hall. The agenda will be posted Tuesday by 7 p.m.
Here are some photos from Monday:
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