On the evening of November 2, 1999, a political shock wave rumbled through southwestern Connecticut. Rudy Marconi, a Democrat, had unseated the incumbent First Selectman in heavily Republican Ridgefield--for the first time in over 50 years!
Once the confetti was swept up, Rudy got to work, with a collaborative style and a grasp of details that got things done. He has emerged as one of Ridgefield's most popular leaders ever, drawing enough independent and Republican supporters to manage four succeeding landslide elections.
Rudy is a hometown success story. His grandparents were first-generation Italian immigrants who settled into Ridgefield's working-class community. A product of Ridgefield's admired schools, he was a three-letter athlete, leading the RHS football, basketball and baseball teams. Still, he found time to work behind the counter at Squash's, Ridgefield's popular downtown soda fountain.
After earning a BBA from Nichols College, Rudy spent 15 years in the paper and printing industry until, in 1987, he returned to Ridgefield to join the family business. When his father died in 1995, Rudy refocused his attention to politics. Being involved locally, with extensive ties to the community, gave Rudy a unique perspective on town life and business.
Looking to give back to the town that had raised him, Rudy sought and won a seat on the Planning and Zoning Commission. He was developing a passion for public service and was soon elected to the Board of Selectmen. He served two terms there before bidding for the top job in 1997.
Rudy lost by a slim margin, but vowed to return in two years. In the meantime, he renewed his commitment to town service by becoming chairman of the Democratic Town Committee. In 1999, Rudy Marconi was elected to the office of First Selectman, unseating the Republican incumbent with an historic 63% of the vote.
During Rudy's first term, he convened the first-ever Town Summit, which brought town officials and citizens together to solve a stubborn sanitation dilemma for a new middle school. This marked the beginning of a refreshing new approach to town business, one that encouraged open communications between the town's various boards and commissions.
When he first stepped into office, Rudy insisted, despite opposition, on putting together an unprecedented 10-year financial plan, and he has been firm in sticking to it. This effort to secure financial security for the town of Ridgefield has paid off, earning the town a AAA bond rating for the 10 consecutive years he has been in office.
Rudy has made economic development a priority, notably brokering a $382 million facility expansion of Boehringer-Ingelheim, a leading pharmaceutical company, which was a significant economic boon for Ridgefield's taxpayers.
With the continued pressure of development, Rudy has worked together with others to preserve open space. He has acquired over 600 acres to that end, helping Ridgefield near its goal of 30%. A portion of that, beautiful Bennett's Pond, has been converted to a state park for the enjoyment of all.
Rudy has been a strong advocate for seniors, paving the way for a Senior Center that has become a model for other towns, and he continues to work towards adding more affordable housing for Ridgefield's elderly. Rudy has demonstrated commitment to health and safety as well. He's raised the town to a new level of emergency preparedness. He works with the Lyme Disease Task Force and has testified in Hartford on this problem as well as many other important state issues.
Rudy has emerged as a regional leader known for his work throughout the state. He led the successful effort to oppose casino expansion in the southwest corridor of Connecticut as a member of the CT Alliance Against Casino Expansion. He continues his efforts to oppose the FAA's ill-advised plan to move the current LaGuardia-bound traffic from Westchester to Fairfield County and he has testified in Washington on the state's behalf. Rudy is Chairman of Alliance for Sensible Airspace Planning, representing 13 communities in Fairfield County and New York; he is secretary of the Housatonic Resources Recovery Authority; and is a member of the Saugatuck River Watershed Partnership. He is past chair and currently vice-chair of the Housatonic Valley Council of Elected Officials, the regional planning agency. He also serves on the boards of the Connecticut Conference of Municipalites and the Council of Small Towns.