As a longtime employee of the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities, Jim Finley has been working in New Haven for the past 34 years.
He has since risen to be the organization’s CEO, and he remembers the days when stores were closing in the Elm City.
“In the early 1980s, the downtown was a mess – a lot of empty storefronts,” Finley recalled this week at The Russian Lady, a downtown nightclub where DeStefano announced to a packed crowd that he was not seeking reelection after 20 years in office. “He’s transformed this city. He’s left a lasting legacy.”
Even before he became mayor, DeStefano learned the ropes in New Haven as a municipal employee.
“John grew up in city government,” Finley said. “He knows city government inside and out, so he brought a combination of talents that you rarely see in a mayor. His institutional memory and knowledge are almost irreplaceable.”
Beyond New Haven, DeStefano is known in municipal circles.
“He was the first Connecticut guy – and the only Connecticut guy – to be president of the National League of Cities,” Finley said.