The crowd was larger for First Selectman Michael Tetreau's ceremonial swearing in Friday morning than the official swearing in Thursday night, and the two most important people in shaping the new town leader's life had front row seats.
"Very proud," said Rowena Tetreau, Michael Tetreau's mother, when asked of her feelings in seeing her son take the reins at Sullivan-Independence Hall. "He was 19 months old when we moved to Fairfield; he was born in Bangor, Maine."
Rowena Tetreau said she and her husband, Fern Tetreau, who guided Andrew Warde High School's football team to a state championship in 1958, lived on Nutmeg Lane in Fairfield for more than 50 years.
"I wish I could vote for him," Rowena Tetreau said. "We live in Bridgeport now."
Fern Tetreau said he and his son didn't have a football rivalry while Fern was coach at Andrew Warde and Michael Tetreau was quarterbacking cross-town rival Roger Ludlowe High School's football team. "It didn't make any difference. We just chatted about the game," Fern Tetreau said.
Fern Tetreau had coached Roger Ludlowe High School's football team before switching to coach Andrew Warde's, and, when Warde won the state championship in 1958, the future first selectman was in elementary school. "He was the water boy," Fern said.
After Town Clerk Betsy Browne administered the oath of office to Michael Tetreau, Fern Tetreau said he was proud of his son. "I just feel wonderful. He worked hard. He did well in school and athletics," he said. "He just carried it all the way."
"He wants to get things done in a nice way," Fern Tetreau added.
Michael Tetreau said everyone has been "super supportive" of him as he transitions from a member of the town's Board of Finance to the town's top job and that the staff in the first selectman's office "is just great."
During his speech, Tetreau gave special thanks to his brother, Bill, who is serving in Afghanistan and who e-mailed congratulations to him Friday morning. And he said an old high school friend named Dave Seres had read that former First Selectman Sherri Steeneck's toss of keys to Town Hall had slipped through Tetreau's hands Thursday night and "reminded me that he caught every pass that I threw his way."
Tetreau said he'd received a lot of e-mails since Thursday night and that one gave him pause because the sender of congratulations was John Sullivan. Tetreau said it was "kind of a Twilight Zone moment" because a man named John Sullivan had led the town from 1959 to 1983 and is considered the most influential first selectman in history. But Tetreau opened the e-mail and found it was from his high school friend, John Sullivan, and not the late first selectman, whom Tetreau initially thought was still on the job.
Tetreau paid tribute to Steeneck, who served as first selectman from June 3 until Thursday evening, saying she had arisen at 4:30 a.m. on her last day to buy fruit and water for town Department of Public Works' employees to thank them for their hard work. "She showed us how much she cares about the town, the people and our employees," he said.
Tetreau also thanked "all my friends and neighbors who have given me tremendous support and encouragement during the adventures of these past 30 days" and said he wanted to "let everyone know that I am ready to get started and excited about meeting the challenges ahead." Tetreau's election as first selectman by 17 Democrats in town came after Steeneck and Selectman James Walsh couldn't agree on who the interim first selectman should be. Steeneck wanted Tetreau, the unanimous choice of the Democratic Town Committee, while Walsh didn't favor Tetreau because Tetreau planned to run for first selectman in the fall.
Tetreau concluded his speech Friday morning by saying, "Fairfield is a great community. There is so much that is special about this town."
"There is a saying that 'You can't go home again.' But, in many ways, coming back here has been even more special," he said.