On Monday night, we witnessed a stunning display of partisan politics. Our Town Council had the opportunity to appoint an eminently qualified individual to the Ethics Commission, Professor Sujata Gadkar-Wilcox. Put simply, the Republicans put politics above the good of the town and did a disservice to our community and our constituents when they voted as a block against her appointment.
Professor Gadkar-Wilcox was nominated by First Selectman Vicki Tesoro, as willed by the voters and designated by the Town Charter, to replace a commissioner whose term expired in 2017. Her appointment required approval by a two-thirds vote of the council, something the Republicans exploited and unanimously blocked.
Ms. Gadkar-Wilcox's resume is lengthy, her knowledge of the law and ethics vast. We can think of few who have the qualifications she does: a professor of law at Quinnipiac University, a former member of the Carnegie Council for Ethics, a former Director of Juvenile Law, a volunteer mentor with Trumbull High School's “We the People” team, a lecturer and advisor on issues of ethics and constitutional law, and the list goes on.
Ms. Gadkar-Wilcox spoke eloquently about the need for nonpartisan solutions that are infused with a thoughtful, compassionate, and apolitical analysis. She respectfully responded to inquiries and statements by Republican Council members who called into question her character and ability to act ethically. At each moment, Sujata demonstrated behavior that exemplified the reason for her nomination by the first selectman. And yet, at each moment, she was met by a complete lack of political courage and partisanship by the Republican caucus.
It is our job as a Town Council to serve our constituents and vote in the best interests of the town. Ms. Gadkar-Wilcox's qualifications make her overqualified to serve on Trumbull's Ethics Commission. Her appointment–a new commissioner with new ideas, a woman of a minority background, an attorney, a professor, a valued member of our community, a mom of small children–is in the best interest of our town. And tonight, the Republican caucus failed our town.
Mary Beth Thornton, chairman
Dawn Cantafio, vice-chair
Jason Marsh, majority leader
Bruce Elstein, District 4
Ashley Gaudiano, District 4
Keith Klain, District 2
Bill Mecca, District 1
Eric Paulson, District 3
Kevin Shively, District 2
Lisa Valenti, District 4
Thomas Whitmoyer, District 2