Derry Gorski: 2020 Bethany Citizen of the Year

NOTE: We’ve moved the Spaghetti Supper to June 13, 2020 in light of concerns about COVID-19.

The Bethany Democratic Town Committee is proud to announce that Derrylyn Gorski is the 2020 Citizen of the Year recipient. This nonpartisan award is given each year to a special member of the community. No one could have worked harder to make Bethany a better place to live than Derry Gorski.

Derrylyn Gorski, First Selectman
Derrylyn Gorski, 2020 Citizen of the Year

Derry, Bill and their two children, Allyson and Erin, came to Bethany 26 years ago. They built their “dream” house on Tawney Drive. Despite having two young children, Derry quickly became involved in town. Within a year, Derry became assistant registrar of voters and eventually, registrar of voters. One of her proudest accomplishments from her time as registrar was the creation of Bethany’s first unified database of voters. Until 1986, the democratic and republican registrars each kept separate lists of all voters.  Derry worked with the republican team to reconcile the lists to create a single database, reducing the workload for all and increasing the reliability of our voter rolls. Derry was also an election moderator. She moderated her first election when she was eight months pregnant with her third child.

When that third child, Katy, was unexpectedly born on her bedroom floor, Bethany’s volunteer Ambulance Core was there to assist. Although they arrived just after the actual event, they took care of the family and accompanied the new mother and baby to the hospital. 

When Bill tragically died of a heart attack at home, the Ambulance Core was on hand was well. They lent comfort, support and aid. Derry is eternally grateful for the help and caring of the volunteer fire department the happiest and saddest of times.

After Bill’s death, the Gorski’s moved to a smaller home on Old Fairwood Road Extension. Derry continued not only her involvement in town politics, but also volunteered her services and expertise to other community organizations. She provided leadership for her daughters’ Scout troops and taught Sunday School, both at St. Vincent’s and at Christ Church.

Derry joined the Lion’s Club in 2000 and quickly became an active member. She was 3rd Vice President of the Lion’s Club when she was elected as Bethany’s first Democratic First Selectman in Bethany since 1919 and the woman ever to hold the position. Derry says that “serving as First Selectman has been my way of giving back to this community which has been there for me and my family at our darkest hours and our most joyous moments.”  She was pleased to be able to bring services and facilities into our community that we have never had before, and to it in an inclusive, nonpartisan way. 

Derry’s accomplishments as First Selectman are almost too many to name. For a number of years, the Bethany Volunteer Fire Department was in dire need of a new building.  In her first term, Derry was truly pleased to able to move this important safety initiative forward. 

During her tenure, she applied for and received over $3 million in grants. These grants funded projects such as energy-efficient windows and a foyer renovation in town hall, solar panels on town buildings, a pavilion and handicapped accessible playground in Veteran’s Memorial Park and a new playground at BCS. 

Derry worked tirelessly to control taxes improve the financial stability of our town. In addition to obtaining grants that helped reduce costs by saving energy, she renegotiated contracts for trash pick-up, energy purchases and employee medical benefits cutting in half the average annual tax increase from approximately 4% to just under 2%.  At the same time, her administration was able to provide tax relief for veterans and seniors. 

In her years as first selectman, Derry maintained and broadened the town’s business tax base, increased the amount of open space for Bethany citizens to enjoy, and helped to make Bethany Connecticut’s number one small town.  

 “Bethany works on volunteers and I am proud to count myself among them during my 36 years here in town.  I love Bethany and all it entails.  It was an honor to serve as First Selectman for 16 years and I am proud of all of our accomplishments.”

Derry Gorski

Join us as we honor Derry’s life and her work for Bethany at the annual spaghetti dinner at Town Hall on June 13, at 6 pm. For tickets and information, Call Carol Goldberg at 203-393-0350.

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