NEWINGTON - When Town Council first welcomed Maureen Klett in 1985, the political arena and the world were vastly different. Now, after decades serving in town government - most of that time on the council and seven years as vice chairwoman of the Board of Education - the lifelong Newington resident is bidding politics farewell.
“It’s been my honor to have been a part of the Board of Education and Town Council for over 30 years,” Klett said this week.
The decision not to run for another term in November was motivated by a recent development in her professional life. After 35 years in the nursing field Klett retired from a position with regulatory affairs for the state Department of Public Health. She took a new job at a national health-care corporation, overseeing compliance in three Connecticut facilities.
Her wider-ranging responsibility gives her limited time to dedicate to town operations.
“The job was the primary reason; I’m really very busy now,” Klett said.
Still, it wasn’t the only reason.
A Democrat most of her life, party differences in 2015 were grounds to run on the Republican ticket. Then a desire to allocate more funding to schools and town services than her GOP counterparts led to another party change, this time - to Independent.
“I think I’ve always been pretty independent-thinking my entire career,” Klett said. “I’ve always done what I think is right for the community.”
Over the last few terms the council’s round-table disposition became more divisive. She plans to bow out gracefully.
“In the past it didn’t matter if it was Democrats or Republicans in the majority,” she pointed out. “It’s nowhere near as nice and fun to serve on the council as it once was. The dynamics have changed. The nastiness seems to be pervasive. I don’t have any desire to continue fighting those kinds of battles.”
Although she’ll be departing her council seat, voters can still expect to see Klett around town this fall.
“I will be out banging on doors on weekends, supporting the Democrats,” she explained. “I feel very good about the slate running. There are excellent choices for the public. Hopefully if the right people get elected, the community will continue to move forward.”
She added that giving of her time has never been about holding an important title.
“It’s a volunteer job I do because I believe in and love the town of Newington.”
Klett’s proudest moments in service were making improvements to town facilities and parks, including the Lucy Robbins Welles Library, the Newington Senior and Disabled Center and the Clem Lemire Turf Field. She also oversaw revisions to the town’s Charter and Blight Ordinance.
The 2017 holiday season will mark the start of a whole new chapter in her life.
“I’ve given up a lot of my time doing things I really enjoy doing, running to meeting after meeting,” Klett said. “I’m so looking forward to having time to spend with my two beautiful granddaughters.”
She also loves to sew and embroider, and she and her husband plan to do some traveling.
Erica Schmitt can be reached at 860-801-5097, or firstname.lastname@example.org.