Monday, September 21, 2020

Person of the Week

Out of the Spotlight, Willie Fritz Stays Engaged

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Longtime former first selectman Willie Fritz, Jr., has remained an active supporter of youth sports in town. Photo by Eric O’Connell/Harbor News

Longtime former first selectman Willie Fritz, Jr., has remained an active supporter of youth sports in town. (Photo by Eric O’Connell/Harbor News | Buy This Photo)

“Grass will never grow under Willie’s feet, he’s always going”—that’s how one acquaintance described Clinton’s former longtime first selectman Willie Fritz, Jr., and his penchant for constant activity.

“I’m proactive. I like to keep busy,” Willie says.

Willie is able to find some time for chat before he heads out to watch the Morgan girls’ basketball team in its Shoreline Conference Semifinal matchup.

“People asked if I was going and I said of course I’ll be there!” he says.

Willie was a five-term first selectman in Clinton from 2005 to 2015. He also served one term on the Board of Selectmen from 2015 to 2017. Once his political career was over, it was time for Willie to find work elsewhere.

“I didn’t know what I would do. I’d been in construction for 20 years,” says Willie.

Initially he worked for about two years at a wealth management firm in Madison, but he admits it wasn’t the right fit.

“My heart wasn’t in it,” says Willie.

However, starting in October 2018, Willie has since found a new career he enjoys: working as the project manager at Millstone Power Station in Waterford.

“I like it, it’s right in my wheel house,” says Willie.

As a project manager, Willie is responsible for overseeing a crew of 10 and reviewing prices, plans, and ideas for any project the plant needs to undertake.

“They actually like the fact I was in politics because you have to talk to people and represent yourself,” Willie says. “I love people and I work with good people at Millstone, between my own guys and the people I know up there.”

Work isn’t the only thing that keeps Willie busy these days as he can be found supporting the Huskies at various games throughout the year.

“Oh, it’s crazy,” Willie chuckles to himself about his involvement with the sports.

On Friday nights in the fall, Willie can be found running the concession stands at the football games, and supporting the Morgan baseball and basketball teams as well.

“I like it, it’s a chance to stay busy and to see people,” says Willie.

Sports has always been big part of Willie’s life. He played baseball and basketball in high school and played baseball at UConn. Now, Willie’s three sons AJ, Will, and Brady all play sports and Willie is involved in supporting and occasionally coaching their careers.

“It’s all about the kids. It’s always been,” he says.

Willie grew up in Wallingford and says it’s there that he made his first foray into politics.

“We were a very political family, it was almost like a rite of passage,” Willie says, noting that he joined that town’s Democratic Town Committee when he was just 18.

Willie got involved in Clinton politics not long after he moved to Clinton in the early 2000s. He started on the Public Works Commission and then decided to run for first selectman in 2005.

Now that he hasn’t been a member of the town’s top board in almost three years, Willie says it’s been good to get away.

“It was probably the best thing that ever happened. My stress level dropped way down,” Willie admits.

Asked a favorite accomplishment from his time in town politics, Willie says, “The new high school is a shining star.”

Willie notes that the town took a step-by-step, systematic approach to the decision to build a new school and that he was able to garner bipartisan support for the building.

“I had fun with it, it was my background,” Willie says.

He also points to being able to bring in grants for different town improvements.

“I got more money for the town than they expected,” he says.

Willie and his wife Sondra moved to Clinton in July 2000. Willie had been working in Long Island, but was transferred back to Connecticut, so the couple began looking for places to live.

“My wife is a Long Island girl and she wanted to be by the water, so we found Clinton,” Willie says.

In his spare time, Willie can be found golfing—admittedly not as much as he’d like—and watching his sons play ball.

In addition to watching his sons play, he says he enjoys seeing people at the games. He enjoys the friends he’s made in town. “It takes me two hours to grocery shop because I run into so many people I know,” Willie says, laughing.

Willie says it’s the people that make up the town.

“We’re not Madison, we’re not Old Saybrook, we’re not Westbrook. It’s always been a blue-collar, diverse, middle-class town and 95 percent are good, hardworking people,” Willie says. “I’ve been a fortunate to work with a lot of good people.”


Eric O’Connell covers news for Clinton for Zip06. Email Eric at e.oconnell@shorepublishing.com.

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