Sunday, November 28, 2021
HomeNewsKillingworth Town GovernmentCatching Up with Killingworth First Selectwoman Cathy Iino

Catching Up with Killingworth First Selectwoman Cathy Iino

By Meghan Peterson, Ph.D.

MP: Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you come to live in Killingworth? What drew you here?

CI: I moved from New Haven to Killingworth in 1996, attracted by the beauty of the town, the quality of the schools, and the antique house that we bought.

MP: What moved you to run for office in Killingworth? What are some of the key things you love doing as part of your job?

CI: Before I lived in Killingworth, I had lived in a number of large cities: I grew up in New York City; I went to college in Chicago: after college I lived in New Haven and Washington, D.C. When you live in a big city and you see something wrong, you think, “Somebody should do something about that.” After living in Killingworth for a little while, it dawned on me that there was no “somebody”—that if I wanted something to happen, I had to make it happen. And I looked around and saw all the wonderful volunteers in Killingworth who do make good things happen every day here. So that moved me to get involved.

If you had told me fifteen years ago that I would run for political office, I would have laughed. It wasn’t something I set out to do, and frankly, I still don’t love the running-for-office part. But the job is immensely satisfying, because I can actually make things happen, whether it’s a new stretch of curbing or a senior lunch program. I certainly don’t do this on my own; I like to say that I am the drum major of an exceptional band of volunteers. My job is to make sure that they have the instruments they need to make beautiful music and that they are all marching in the same direction. I love it when I can link up organizations and individuals who share interests or capabilities. Our volunteers are generous and talented; more than appreciation, they want to be effective, and I try to give them the support they need to be effective.

One unexpected aspect of the job that I enjoy is working with other towns in the region and the state to find ways to improve services and protect our interests. This function is largely invisible to our townspeople, but it is vital to the health of our municipalities. We are one of 17 towns in the Lower Connecticut River Valley Council of Governments, one of 8 COGs in the state, and I served as chair of RiverCOG, as we call ourselves, for its first three years. I sit on the board of directors of the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities and the Connecticut Interlocal Risk Management Association, CCM’s mutual insurance arm. I chair a working group on regional school districts for the Connecticut Council of Small Towns. I attend meetings of the Middlesex County Revitalization Commission, which advises and makes loans and grants to small businesses in our area. Especially as the state looks for more regionalization of services, it’s crucial that we speak out about the ways in which that approach makes sense, and the ways it doesn’t.

MP: What are your hobbies/interests? What activities do you like to enjoy in Killingworth? How about in neighboring Haddam?

CI: My most active hobby is cooking and baking. I’ve got a sourdough starter that’s over 30 years old, and I bake at least one loaf of bread a week. Because I love to cook but I often attend evening meetings, my husband and I eat really late. The Killingworth Farmers Market on Wednesdays is a great source of ingredients and inspiration. I would not have thought to make the phenomenally good lettuce soup I cooked up earlier this summer if it hadn’t been for the beautiful, large head of lettuce in my bag.

Of course, for virtually everyone in Killingworth, walking outdoors is a regular hobby. It’s just so beautiful, and we have such great trails at Chatfield Hollow, Cockaponset forest, Parmelee Farm, and Auer Park. We even put in a paved, accessible trail at Sheldon Park for people who might have trouble negotiating more rustic pathways. I can walk down the road from my house to Chatfield Hollow State Park, and every time I do, I think about how amazing it is to live in a place like this.

MP: Any other thoughts/ideas you’d like to share with readership in Killingworth and Haddam? (perhaps you could comment on the communities of Killingworth and Haddam…what is unique about these communities, what you like about the people, etc. – it could be anything!)

CI: Here’s the most remarkable thing about the Killingworth community: we are not about status. We don’t care about the size of your salary, your house, or your car (although we might be impressed by the size of your pick-up 😉 On our town committees, our civic organizations, our emergency response companies, our churches, and our sports leagues, executives of major corporations, small contractors, custodians, and college professors work side by side. People care more about your service to the community than about your job title. I think that sets Killingworth apart from a lot of other places.

Photo courtesy of Amy Etra.

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