Wennberg to head DPW, Romeo to become city attorney
By Gordon Dritschilo
Staff Writer | March 19,2013
According to City Hall legend, Jeffrey Wennberg took every opportunity when he was mayor to act as the public works commissioner.
The former mayor is poised to take the job full time. Mayor Christopher Louras nominated Wennberg to the position Monday, saying current commissioner Evan Pilachowski will return to his former position as city engineer. Nominations were tabled until the next meeting of the full Board of Aldermen.
With Wennberg’s successor in the mayor’s office, John Cassarino, rejoining to the Board of Aldermen on Monday, Wennberg’s confirmation would mean that every living former mayor of Rutland is involved with City Hall in some official capacity.
Louras also appointed Alderman Charles Romeo to replace City Attorney Andrew Costello, who is leaving at the end of the month. Unchanged among the mayoral appointments are EJay Bishop as recreation superintendent, James Simonds as building inspector/zoning administrator and Henry Heck as city clerk.
According to the most recent city report, the public works commissioner makes $80,214 a year while the city attorney makes $81,006.
Louras said that once Romeo’s nomination is confirmed, he will put forward Melinda Humphrey, who mounted an unsuccessful campaign for the board this year, to fill Romeo’s seat. Louras said Humphrey, who garnered 1,296 votes at town meeting and came in seventh of 12 candidates, was “young, extremely energetic and comes from a professional background.”
“She recognizes the city’s best days are ahead of it and wants to be part of our renaissance,” he said. “It’s the type of individual we want on the board.”
Louras also said he has asked Romeo’s father, Tony Romeo, to resign from the Police Commission to avoid potential conflicts, and will nominate former Alderman Sean Sargeant to fill that seat.
Wennberg’s nomination also creates a vacancy as the former mayor was sitting on the Development Review Board. Louras said he will name Steve Wilk, already a DRB alternate, to plug that hole.
Louras said Wennberg’s nomination was suggested by Pilachowski after a review of resumes from candidates for the vacant city engineer position.
“Evan had my greatest confidence to continue as commissioner, but ... he felt that he could best serve the city if he returned to the job that he loves,” Louras said.
Louras said that Wennberg’s management skills are “unrivaled” and that he had “national-level caliber” knowledge or stormwater and wastewater issues.
Wennberg followed his time as mayor with, among other jobs, a stint at the head of the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation. He most recently served as executive director of Vermonters for Health Care Freedom. Wennberg said he was interested in getting back into public service and to management, which he described as “applied politics.”
“There’s a great deal of satisfaction that I have missed in these last five years from being able to not just influence decisions, but make them,” he said.
Wennberg also said that there has been a lot of delayed gratification in his professional life.
“Look how it took 10 years to see changes in downtown Rutland,” he said. “There’s nothing quite like going to work in the morning and doing your job and seeing that something’s better than when you showed up. ... Of all the jobs, I suspect, in city government, this is the one that will feed that desire more than anything else because there’s always work going on.”
Louras noted that Romeo clerked in the city attorney’s office and is presently a deputy state’s attorney, a post Costello held before coming to City Hall.
“During his tenure on the Board of Aldermen he took a very legalistic view of matters that came before the board,” Louras said. “He has a very clear understanding of the challenges before the city in employment law, litigation and negotiations.”