WEST HARTFORD — Mayor Shari Cantor will continue her tenure as mayor, and Liam Sweeney will be the town’s new deputy mayor, the town council decided.
Cantor, who received the most votes of any town council candidate in this month’s election, has been on the council since 2004. She was named deputy mayor in 2011 and was named mayor in 2016.
“I’m very honored and privileged to have the support of our residents and voters,” Cantor said. “I take this responsibility very seriously and put a lot into the care and the leadership of the community and the councils. We have a great team. I’m very excited to work with the council. There are tremendous opportunities ahead. We’ve got a lot of work to do.”
Sweeney, who received the second most votes in the election, was approved as the council’s new deputy mayor at their meeting last week. Sweeney was nominated by council member Leon Davidoff, who served as deputy mayor for the last two years.
“Liam has the experience and knowledge to understand the legislative process, which has proven quite helpful in navigating issues that relate to a state and local partnership,” Davidoff said at the meeting. “I’ve witnessed Liam’s dedication and commitment to the work of the council. Liam has been visible in the community, attending a wide variety of events and conversations that affect our community.”
Sweeney, who grew up in West Hartford and attended Morley Elementary School, King Philip Middle School and Hall High School, was first elected to the town council in 2017.
He said he’s excited about being deputy mayor in his hometown where he lives with his wife, Whitney, and two children, Rory and Claire. The couple is soon expecting a third child.
“It’s an honor of a lifetime to be able to serve the community I grew up in and has given me all the opportunities in my life to do what I’m doing,” Sweeney said. “As deputy mayor, I’m here to serve the community in any way the mayor asks me to.”
Cantor said Sweeney actually grew up five houses down from where she and her husband raised their family. Sweeney, she said, is four years older than her oldest son, adding that he brings a younger perspective to the council and the position.
“Liam is obviously of a different generation,” Cantor said. “He brings the perspective of a young family. He brings an energy and a freshness and enthusiasm. He has a passion for youth engagement. He is a politically aware and astute young man. He’s been involved in the political world for a long time for a young person.”
Sweeney said he’s hoping that he can bring that perspective to the town council as he continues to voice his support for the planned community center that would house a new teen center at the former St. Brigid School property. He mentions that West Hartford is among the top-10 populated municipalites in the state but doesn’t have a state-of-the-art community center.
“I just hope to be able to bring the perspective of a young working family to the local government,” Sweeney said. “We have a ton of young families in town. I think a lot of them appreciate and want people to understand what they’re going through. I’m looking forward to working with the state delegation and any other community partner who wants to help us make the best community center in town.”
Cantor said she’s excited about the new energy the Democratic group has, with Sweeney assuming a new leadership position and a newcomer in the form of Adrienne Billings-Smith being elected to council.
“We work very well as a team,” Cantor said. “It energizes a team when you have a new person on board like Adrienne and Liam’s excitement about being in leadership. I’m very touched and moved by the support that I got, but it’s a different kind of excitement when it’s new.”
Sweeney said it was an honor to be nominated by Davidoff, and that Billings-Smith seconding that nomination was the “icing on the cake.”
“Leon has been a real mentor for me ever since I got onto the council,” Sweeney said about Davidoff. “I’m just so excited about [Billings-Smith]. She’s an absolute rock star and I can’t wait to see what she can do here along with Ben [Wenograd] and Carol [Blanks]. We just love this team. We feel like a family.”