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The Newtown Republican Town Committee (RTC) recognized former four-term First Selectman Patricia Llodra and former four-term Selectman William Rodgers for their years of dedicated service to the community with a special farewell ceremony in the Alexandria Room of the Edmond Town Hall on February 4.
Friends and family throughout the area, as well as members of Connecticut’s state delegation, all came out to show their support and gratitude for the work of Mrs Llodra and Mr Rodgers.
After attendees enjoyed a catered lunch, Newtown RTC Chairman Jeff Capeci welcomed everyone and introduced the afternoon’s speakers, which included colleagues of the honorees.
The first to address the crowd at the podium was Senator Tony Hwang who said, “Thank you all for coming; in a true bipartisan manner I see community leaders coming forward to recognize two individuals who have given their heart and soul to this community.”
Crediting Mrs Llodra’s background in teaching, he said that she has been a great teacher to him throughout the years and given him guidance on how to be the best representative for the town up in Hartford.
Reminiscing back to meeting Mr Rodgers, nearly a decade ago, Mr Hwang said he remembers thinking “how fortunate Newtown is” to have him serving the community.
Mr Hwang concluded by saying, “Thank you both for being inspirations and tremendous role models for all of us.”
Fellow state delegation member JP Sredzinski spoke next and shared a vivid memory he had witnessing Mrs Llodra in action standing up for her town with “class and dignity.”
He summed up his sentiments by saying that Mrs Llodra can be defined with the quote by John Maxwell: “A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.”
Even while leading Newtown through the times of unprecedented tragedy, he said, she always found a way using compassion, love, care, and common sense.
Former Newtown Selectman Bill Brimmer spoke about the impact Mrs Llodra had on the Newtown community, as well as on him personally.
He recalled what “a joyous day” it was when she decided to run for first selectman and that the joy of her leadership never stopped.
Mr Brimmer went on to share a personal story, telling of Mr Llodra’s character, that had him choked up remembering it. He spoke about how he and his wife Barbara arrived late at an event out of town and saw the tables for representatives from Newtown were full and everyone had already started eating dinner.
“We went to the only table we could find, which was an empty table. Two minutes later, who brings her dinner, her silverware, and her napkin over to sit with us — but Pat. Folks, it’s the actions that count, not the words,” Mr Brimmer said, expressing his appreciation for her kind gesture.
When addressing Mr Rodgers, Mr Brimmer said, “Will is a leader — a true leader. The things you have done for us and this town and what you have done for the country, we owe you a debt of honor.”
Former Monroe First Selectman Steve Vavrek spoke of the bipartisan teamwork that was able to be accomplished during Mrs Llodra’s term as Newtown’s first selectman in the wake of 12/14 and how efficiently they were able to communicate to get the children of Sandy Hook Elementary School into Chalk Hill.
He also lightheartedly joked that he did not think it was a coincidence he and Mrs Llodra both decided to not run for reelection again considering they are the best golfing partners, which had the crowd laughing.
Democratic former First Selectman Herb Rosenthal was the last guest speaker of the afternoon and started off by telling how his late father — who he said was very good judge of character — was very fond of both Mrs Llodra and her husband, Bob.
Mr Rosenthal himself has known the Llodras for more than 35 years, originally through school events for their children, as well as through their elected careers in government service.
“While we may not have always agreed on every issue, it was never personal,” Mr Rosenthal said. “I never doubted that Pat always did what she believed was in the best interest of our wonderful town.”
He went on to thank her for her many years of dedicated service.
Having known Mr Rodgers for more than 20 years, Mr Rosenthal remembered how his friend was one of the first people to call him to wish him well the morning after he won the first selectman election in 1997.
They worked together for the entire ten years Mr Rosenthal was first selectman, and he said, “I have to recognize and publicly thank him for the advice and support he provided to help make our administration a success.”
Mr Rosenthal additionally thanked him for his years of service to the community and for his bravery and service to our country.
After the speakers shared their remarks, Mr Hwang and Mr Sredzinski presented Mrs Llodra and Mr Rodgers with framed proclamations. Mr Hwang explained the proclamations are a profound reflection of the State of Connecticut and the General Assembly’s appreciation of their work.
After thanking those in attendance, Mr Rodgers spoke fondly about fellow honoree Mrs Llodra.
“She was the best person possible to guide us through 12/14…” Mr Rodgers said, adding, “[but] what you don’t hear is about her skill as an administrator and day-to-day-duties.”
He gave credit to her ability to navigate through the daily challenges that came her way and expressed that it was “a real pleasure to serve with her.”
Mr Rodgers also took the time to personally thank his wife Maura, as well as the Capeci family who he enjoyed getting to know more during his recent campaign with Mr Capeci.
He also addressed First Selectman Dan Rosenthal saying that he “has been a friend for years and the town is in really good hands with Dan.”
When Mrs Llodra spoke at the podium, she started by explaining how she moved to Newtown with her husband and three children when she was 27 years old.
“It’s a town I have tremendous affection for and great commitment to…” said Mrs Llodra. “I was always so proud to say I was serving Newtown, and I was extraordinarily proud when I was Newtown’s first selectman.”
She says she will continue to be committed to Newtown but shared her excitement for her upcoming adventure to Florida and Cuba with her husband, the latter being where her father had lived before emigrating to the United States.
Honoring Mrs Llodra and Mr Rodgers for their years of service to the Newtown community, the farewell ceremony concluded with the crowd giving them a standing ovation.