By Bruno R. Morasutti.
(March 27, 2019) — On March 22, 2019, we lost Tony Bondi. I came to know Tony when he campaigned for the office of first selectman of Haddam. He would later jocularly refer to himself as the “king of Higganum.” At first Tony came across as a smart-aleck and I wondered whether to take him seriously. However, after he won the election in 1999 I saw a different side of his personality; behind his clownishness he was a serious, smart and savvy business person who nevertheless did not take himself too seriously. Tony went on to win 4 more consecutive elections making him the longest continually serving first selectman of Haddam ever.
Tony lived by a simple creed: be honest to yourself and others. As a lawyer, I am expected to advocate the client’s position without judging the right or wrong of it. When Tony needed legal advice or an opinion, he wanted to know what the law said and did not ask for or want any particular outcome. He simply wanted sound direction in order to do the right thing for the town.
As a good administrator, Tony had to make difficult decisions on behalf of the town and he did not shy away from making them. Whether he made cuts in personnel, reassigned people to other departments that suited them, or made policy changes, he always respected town employees and was completely upfront with them as to his reasoning. Consequently, you could disagree with him for something he did, but you respected the way he did it.
While enjoying good relationships with town employees and contractors, Tony always had his eye on town finances. He was a very good negotiator and spent town money prudently. In addition to keeping taxes in check and getting the best deals he could, he played a game with himself, which was to annually save the town money at least equal to his salary.
Tony’s underpinnings and his sense of right and wrong derive from his parents, John and Lucy Bondi. Tony often talked lovingly about his parents, especially his father, from whom he learned by example to live and enjoy life (and how to be a wisenheimer). Tony was in love with his wife Barbara and counted his blessings regularly for having her in his life. Barbara knew no bounds when it came to caring for Tony, whether in health or illness. Tony was devoted to his children, Dustin, Lynn and Jennifer, and he doted on his grandchildren. The love he gave throughout his life rebounded to him and sustained him to the very end. Tony will be missed.