PHOTO — Dorinda Borer, accompanied by son Drew Borer, 22, right, shakes hands with state Attorney General William Tong after being sworn in as West Haven’s second female mayor during an inauguration of elected city officials in the West Haven High School auditorium Sunday morning, Dec. 3. (City Photo)
WEST HAVEN, Dec. 5, 2023 — Dorinda Borer formally began her inaugural two-year term as West Haven’s second female mayor after being sworn in during a ceremony at West Haven High School on Sunday morning, Dec. 3.
Borer, a former three-term state representative, was administered the oath of office by state Attorney General William Tong in front of a spirited crowd of more than 500 well-wishers in the school auditorium at the inauguration of elected city officials.
She was joined onstage by her son, Drew Borer, 22, and West Haven Democratic state Rep. Treneé McGee, the master of ceremonies.
Among the dignitaries in attendance were former West Haven Mayors Nancy R. Rossi and Edward M. O’Brien, along with East Haven Mayor Joseph A. Carfora, Hamden Mayor Lauren Garrett and North Haven First Selectman Michael J. Freda.
Watch the inauguration on West Haven YouTube.
Borer, a Democrat, defeated Republican candidate Barry Lee Cohen and write-in candidate Steven R. Mullins in the Nov. 7 general election, earning one of the highest vote totals for mayor in decades. Rossi, a Democrat, did not seek a fourth term.
Borer is West Haven’s 13th mayor since the city’s incorporation in 1961.
In her inaugural address, “A Bridge Forward,” she congratulated her fellow elected officials, thanked her son, family and supporters, and outlined a number of goals for the next two years.
“Our story has been a frustrating one to say the least recently, but that’s not the story that we are going to let define us,” Borer said. “I am reminded of the words of Victor Hugo, who said, ‘Even the darkest night will end, and the sun will rise.’ Our sun is rising, West Haven!
“We may have faced challenges, but it is the resilience of our people that has always prevailed. Our story is going to be about our strengths. Our story is going to be about our successes. And we will celebrate and leverage everything West Haven has to offer.”
Borer pledged to celebrate the city’s shoreline, restaurants, school system, public safety departments, business owners, train station, West Haven VA Medical Center, University of New Haven, youth sports, older residents, diversity, history and development opportunities.
Lastly, she pledged to celebrate all residents, affectionately known as Westies.
“You demonstrate pride and passion, and you are the heart and soul of this city,” Borer said. “Let’s not imagine, let’s reimagine. Let’s write our next chapter by turning the page. And when all is said and done, we will promote West Haven to the world, because we know what an amazing city we really are, and it’s time the rest of the world knew it as well.
“The best is yet to come, West Haven!”
The inauguration commenced with a presentation of the colors by the West Haven Police Honor Guard, followed by a procession of elected officials and police and fire chiefs led by bagpiper Coreyanne Armstrong.
The hourlong ceremony featured the keynote speech by interim UNH President Sheahon Zenger and a patriotic performance of “America the Beautiful” by 2019 West Haven High graduates Hannah and Olivia Coppola, accompanied by Phyllis Silver. The rendition was highlighted by attendees waving their cellphone flashlights in a display of unity.
West Haven Veterans Council President Dave Ricci led the Pledge of Allegiance, and 2023 West Haven High graduate Madelyn Roche sang “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
First Congregational Church Senior Pastor E. Carl Howard and Vertical Church Outreach Pastor Paul Bronson gave opening and closing prayers, respectively.
A public reception was held after the ceremony in the school cafeteria.
The West Haven Charter mandates that all elected officials take the oath of office on the first Sunday in December.
Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz administered the oath of office to elected Democratic City Clerk John W. Lewis, who she noted is West Haven’s first Black city clerk.
Bysiewicz also swore in elected Democratic Treasurer Ronald M. Quagliani and elected Democratic Tax Collector Eric Murillo.
U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., swore in the five incumbents and eight newcomers on the City Council.
Returning council members are Sarah J. Ackbarali, D-3; Gary Donovan, D-4; Katherine Tucker, D-7; Steven J. Johnstone, R-10; and Meli Garthwait, R-at large.
New to the council are Anne Heffernan, D-1; Michelle Coletti, D-2; Edward McMillian, D-5; Dawn Callahan, D-6; Christopher E. Vargo Jr., D-8; Kathleen Mueller, D-9; Brian Laucks, D-at large; and Nicholas A. Pascale, D-at large.
State Treasurer Erick Russell administered the oath of office to members of the Board of Education, including incumbent Democrat Caryll “Cebi” Waterfield, incumbent Republicans Robert J. Guthrie and Patricia B. Libero, and elected Democrats Heather Shea and Jonathan E. Jones.
Russell also swore in incumbent Democrat Joseph W. Harvey III, incumbent Republican David Riccio Jr. and elected Democrat Suzanne Mink to the Board of Assessment Appeals.
Borer, a lifelong Westie, has devoted much of her life to public service.
She was elected to represent West Haven’s 115th General Assembly District in a special election in February 2017.
She was a deputy speaker of the House of Representatives and the chairwoman of the General Bonding Subcommittee of the Finance, Revenue and Bonding Committee.
Borer was also the chairwoman of the Veterans Affairs Committee and a member of the Environment and Public Health committees.
In 2009-13, Borer served on the city’s Board of Education. She also served a stint as Bailey Middle School’s PTA president.
Her work in the thriving Irish American community includes serving as the grand marshal of the 2003 Greater New Haven St. Patrick’s Day Parade and West Haven’s Irishwoman of the Year in 2014.
Borer has also been honored by the West Haven Black Coalition and the West Haven Hispanic Society for her contributions to build better communities through diversity.
For 10 years, she worked in municipal government as the personnel director of the town of Stratford and the city of Bridgeport.
She also worked in banking as an auditing manager and a branch administrator for seven years.
Borer, a 1981 graduate of West Haven High, earned a Bachelor of Science in business administration and management from Southern Connecticut State University and a Master of Business Administration from UNH.
A longtime resident of the 8th District, she is the former wife of former seven-term West Haven Democratic Mayor H. Richard Borer Jr., who served from 1991 to 2005.
Dorinda Borer, accompanied by son Drew Borer, 22, right, shakes hands with state Attorney General William Tong after being sworn in as West Haven’s second female mayor during an inauguration of elected city officials in the West Haven High School auditorium Sunday morning, Dec. 3. (City Photo)