Residents correctly credit First Selectman Rudy Marconi for much of Ridgefield’s success. Under his leadership, with a Democratic majority on the Board of Selectmen (BOS), the town successfully executed several defining initiatives, including its first long-term financial forecast, maintained a AAA bond rating over the last decade, launched the “Sewer Summit” that resolved a tenacious infrastructure challenge, built and upgraded schools, acquired open space, built a new library, and secured our future by combining responsible land use with forward-thinking plans.
Rudy’s leadership has been integral to these and other successful initiatives, but he is the first to say he did not do it alone. Rudy leads through non-partisan teamwork, but his most important teammates have been members of the BOS Democratic majority. Barbara Manners has been a continuous member of that majority, and Steve Zemo, a member in the early 2000s, seeks to rejoin Rudy’s team in November. Ridgefield needs to retain a Democratic majority on BOS in order to sustain the success of the last 16 years.
Currently in her eighteenth year as a Selectwoman, Barbara Manners is an attorney who conceived and created many of Ridgefield’s cherished cultural institutions. Her countless contributions enrich the lives of all residents, particularly families and seniors. Barbara founded the Ridgefield Playhouse, Concert Happenings in Ridgefield Parks (CHIRP) and Acoustic Celebration. She initiated the Holiday Trust Fund to decorate downtown and continue the Halloween Walk without burdening local businesses. She served as board member of The Ridgefield Symphony Orchestra, board member of Connecticut Folk Festival and Green Expo, President of the local branch of the American Association of University Women, and is former board member and current advisory board member of the Women’s Center of Greater Danbury. In 2013, the Cultural Alliance of Western Connecticut honored Barbara with its Heart of the Arts Award.
Steve Zemo is a respected business owner, developer, philanthropist and arts patron whose contributions to Ridgefield are widely visible. Steve pioneered green building and sustainable development in Ridgefield. Recognized with the Ridgefield Board of Selectman Commercial Beautification Award, the Ridgefield Board of Realtors Commercial Property Improvement Award, and the Chamber of Commerce “Individual of the Year Award”, Steve advocates for sustainable building practices, open space and responsible land use. Steve installed and maintains the pocket park at the Scott House. His fundraising initiatives include Ridgefield’s Bark Park and 9/11 Memorial. As a Veteran’s Park parent, he is involved and looking to the future. In his public career, Steve served on the BOS, was a founding member of the Ridgefield Playhouse, Chairman of the Scotts Ridge Middle School Site Selection Committee, co-chair of the Ridgefield 9/11 Memorial Committee, and member of the boards of The Community Center and Chamber of Commerce. In October, the Cultural Alliance of Western Connecticut will honor Steve with its Arts and Community Award.
Ridgefield is blessed with three fine leaders in Marconi, Manners and Zemo. Please vote for all three — Rudy’s team — in November.
Alex Harris is Vice Chair of the Ridgefield Democratic Town Committee, which supplies this column.