President of the Legislative Council Hamden resigns


HAMDEN – After eight years on the city’s legislative council and four of those years at its helm, Council President Michael “Mick” McGarry is stepping down.

As an English teacher at Ward High School in Fairfield, McGarry said he had accepted an additional position as manager of management engagement with his union and that time constraints made it difficult to stay on the council.

He planned to announce his departure during the council meeting on Monday evening.

Councilor Kathleen Schomaker, D-6, President pro tempore, is next in line, according to McGarry. Schomaker was unavailable for comment.

McGarry’s resignation leaves a vacant seat on District 1 city council just a week before the nominations meeting and four months before the local elections.

Sean Grace, president of the Democratic Town Committee, said the council had in the past accepted the candidates proposed by the DTC.

District 1 representatives of the DTC would take care of the recommendation, Grace said, and the larger DTC would back her decision.

“I would like to thank President McGarry for the hard work and volunteer work he has done as President-in-Office of the Council during a difficult time,” said Grace. “He had a lot of different things to balance out and I think he worked hard for it and I wish him well.”

McGarry, who also sits in District 1 of the DTC, said he will keep an eye on candidates for the council seat and provide confirmation should the right candidate show up.

Meanwhile, Laura Santino, who held various roles on the Republican City Committee but never ran for an elected office, will be vying for the seat on the GOP ticket.

Christine Whitten, chairwoman of District 1 of the DTC, described McGarry as a “real” and dedicated community leader.

She said she was “surprised” by the news and would call her board members on Monday night. She hopes to have a candidate before the nominations meeting scheduled for July 27, she said.

“In the event that someone does not get nominated at Congress, someone could take out petition papers the next day to get access to the ballot papers,” Grace said.

If only one candidate successfully petitioned that candidate would become the Democratic candidate, he said, adding that multiple candidates would trigger a primary.

“Honestly, there will be huge footsteps to be filled,” Whitten said. “But someone will show up.”

The District 1 Chair also said she understood that McGarry was a very good teacher and spoke encouragingly about his new role in the union.

“I’m sure it will be very exciting for him to have a leadership job in his career,” said Whitten.

“I’m very excited to be focusing on educational topics that are very close to my heart,” said McGarry when asked how he felt about going for his union role. “When I look back on my time on the Council, I have found that the things I have been looking forward to most are the things that have to do with education.”

While he has to settle into his new union role, he would consider joining a city council or commission across the board, McGarry said.

“I still plan to be active and engaged,” he said.

McGarry’s final message as President of the Council would be forward-looking. He said Hamden was “turning some financial corners”.

“Tonight, as I speak, I will ask the council to focus on planning for the future,” he said on Monday. “We have to be careful, but I think there are really good reasons for … cautious optimism.”

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