Ridgefielders head to D.C. to witness presidential transition of power

Pageantry and parades, tuxedos and ball gowns, a solemn oath — a presidential inauguration marks the ascendancy of a leader and a political party. It is also a celebration of democracy.

“I look at this as being one of the greatest traditions in our country, the peaceful transition of power, that we and very few other countries share in,” said Board of Finance member Mike Raduazzo, who will be attending the inauguration of Donald Trump as the nation’s 45th president Friday.

“I look at it as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” said Raduazzo, who will be going to Washington with his wife, Maria, and a handful of other Ridgefielders.

Brett and Pam West are also planning to attend with some old friends — people who were involved in helping the Trump campaign move people around, using private jets.

“We were involved originally with the Great America PAC and we were just contributors,” Brett West said. “Then we got to know folks running it. We were going to events in the private jets and they asked people to donate time in the jets to move the inner team around.

“A whole big team of us, we were going to all the battleground states the last three weeks of the campaign, plus we were heading out to the debates. We were moving people. … It was quite the ride, it was exciting, so now we celebrate after all the hard work.”

West said he’s a longtime admirer of Donald Trump’s approach to business, and was a strong supporter of his candidacy from the beginning.

“1988, when I was in college, The Art of the Deal come out. And I read that book and I was absolutely enamored with it, as a young, impressionable man, trying to take on the world,” he said.

“I got a cat in 1989, and I named my cat Trump. So, yeah, when he finally threw his hat in the ring I was full-in on him from the beginning.”

Frey in Washington

It will be state Rep. John Frey’s second inauguration — he also attended one for President George W. Bush.

Frey spoke Tuesday, from Washington, where he’d gone for a meeting of the Republican National Committee, which he serves on.

“We have an RNC meeting in advance of Friday. I came down here a little bit early justs to see some friends,” Frey said.

“I’ve got tickets to pretty much everything. There’s a concert at the Lincoln Memorial on Thursday afternoon,” he said. “I have seats for the swearing-in — I’m not sure exactly where they are. And then, I have seats for the parade.

“I have tickets to one of the balls, it’s called the Freedom Ball. It’s at the convention center,” Frey said.

“There’s three official balls, which is many fewer than have been done in the past. But there are probably 20 other balls, unofficial ones, either put on by states, or other organizations."

Having represented Connecticut on the Republican National Committee for years now, Frey admits to being a bit of an insider.

“I’ve got a lot of friends — several who are going into work in the administration. So that makes it more personal and exciting,” he said. “Reince Priebus, chairman of RNC — his term is up tomorrow — he’s been appointed Trump’s chief of staff. I’ve known Reince for nine years.”

Frey is confident Priebus will do well in what is sure to be a challenging and demanding job.

“He’s brilliant,” Frey said.

But the excitement of an inauguration reaches a lot of people, not just the high rollers.

“I was downtown last night,” Frey said. “People are excited for witnessing the transition of power. From the hotel staff, friends — non-political types that I saw last night — it’s exciting.

“Look, the election’s over. Not everyone’s happy — that’s an understatement. But now it’s time to witness the peaceful transition of government, which is a hallmark of our country. We all want, or at least need, the president to succeed.

“All the members of Connecticut congressional delegation — all Democrats — they’re attending. Governor Malloy’s attending. The campaign’s over, and politics is set aside — at least for that one day, I’m sure it will all resume on Monday.

“This is the process,” he said. “It’s really great to be able to witness it firsthand.”