Michael Passero ’79 M’89 was elected mayor of New London in a landslide election Nov. 3, beating his Republican challenger by a ratio of more than 2 to 1.
Passero, whose bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the College are both in English, has been a firefighter in the city for 31 years and a city councilor for the past six years. He is also a part-time labor attorney. He will retire from the fire department and wind down his legal cases before taking office on Dec. 8. Passero will be the second strong mayor to lead New London after a 2010 change to the city’s charter.
In an article published in The Day newspaper before the election, Passero expressed his affection for the city he will now lead.
“It's my piece of earth, and it's given me everything,” he said. “The life that New London has given me you couldn't dream of it, plan it, plot it, achieve it. My parents chose to live here, and they made a great choice, as it turned out.”
And Connecticut College was a great choice for him. He never lived on campus, but that didn’t limit his connection to his alma mater; rather, it gave him a different perspective on his experiences.
“I was a townie, so I didn’t have the same kind of bonding experience (as students who lived on campus), but I think I have a greater appreciation for what Conn did for me. I wouldn’t be where I am without Alice Johnson and other faculty there,” Passero said.
He credits Johnson, a former dean of the College and English professor, with helping him secure a spot at the competitive University of Connecticut School of Law.
“Alice was a good friend and I stayed connected with her until the end of her life,” he said. “And I wasn’t unique to her. She had that kind of relationship with many other students.”
Passero hopes to expand relations between the city and all three of its colleges, including using the wide roadways in the Hodges Square area to create multi-use trails that will “invite students to come down the hill,” he said.
Passero believes Conn students can help aid economic development in New London.
“Students are an asset to the community, especially to the school districts, and they’re important to the economy. I want to educate residents about the value Conn brings to the community,” he said.