I Am Fairfield — Mike Tetreau: Weathering storms

Tetreau-SOT-fiFairfield has a lot to celebrate for its 375th anniversary. The town’s rich history and its residents demonstrate great resilience and community. From the town’s significant role in the Revolutionary War to the recent display of stamina in the face of hurricanes Irene and Sandy, Fairfielders have displayed great altruism and courage.

These are among the qualities that compelled First Selectman Mike Tetreau to return to the town he grew up in.

“Part of what defines Fairfield … is the spirit of volunteerism,” Tetreau said. “I think that makes our town very special.”

Tetreau estimated that Fairfield residents volunteer more hours per person than any other town in the country, and recalled that spirit following Hurricane Sandy.

“I remember driving around town and seeing extension cords going from one house to another, because somebody had power and somebody didn’t,” Tetreau said.

Meeting people and witnessing all of the volunteer work they do for the town is his favorite part of the town’s top elected job.

In celebration of the 375th anniversary, the town of Fairfield sponsored a food drive for which, “600 volunteers came together for two days to collect food, brought by thousands of Fairfield residents,” Tetreau estimated.

Although the community spirit has remained since he grew up in Fairfield, a lot has changed.

“When I was growing up here, it was still very much a small town,” he recalled.

In 1950 the Fairfield’s population was roughly 30,500. Since then, the town has nearly doubled in size. Fairfield today is almost “a city trying to be a town,” said Tetreau, who added that’s what makes the town unique.

“I think the typical Fairfielder wants to live in a small town,” he said, “but wants to have big city amenities.”

Tetreau’s drive to “give back to the community,” is what eventually led him to the office of first selectman.

He credited this motivation to his father, who was a legendary football coach at Andrew Warde High School. Tetreau himself played quarterback for rival Roger Ludlowe.

A graduate of Princeton University with a degree in civil engineering, Tetreau noted that he was not particularly interested in politics when he was younger.

He built a successful career in finance and business, working for companies such as Arthur Andersen and Medeco. After returning to Fairfield, he worked for William Raveis Real Estate alongside his dad.

He also gave back to Fairfield, volunteering with the Red Cross, then working with the Town Plan and Zoning Commission, the RTM, and eventually the Board of Finance before considering running for first selectman.

Tetreau was acting as interim first selectman when Hurricane Irene hit in 2011. His leadership training and team spirit would serve him well as Sandy hit in 2012.

“Storm Sandy was no doubt the biggest challenge,” he said.

The Fairfield beach area was under water, and many people lost their homes. The town tried to give as much money as they could to the residents.

“It was a very difficult time,” Tetreau said, “because there wasn’t enough money to go around.”

During that time, Tetreau spent almost two weeks away from his desk, preferring to be at emergency operations command center to assist in the aftermath of the storm.

He has kept up the dedication. The First Selectman has a busy schedule; he often works as much as seven days a week, with meetings scheduled even on nights and weekends. His day begins at 9 a.m., and doesn’t end until 6 or 7 p.m.

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