Mezzo to join Ion Bank after term ends


Robert Mezzo
Robert Mezzo

NAUGATUCK — Mayor Robert Mezzo will join Ion Bank as a business development officer in its commercial lending department after he leaves office in the fall.

Senior bank officials approached Mezzo about the position in March after the 44-year-old Democrat announced he would not seek a fourth term. The bank, headquartered in Naugatuck, formally announced Aug. 20 that Mezzo will start in the new role in December.

“When Bob announced he was not going to run again, myself, my chief financial officer, Dave Rotatori, and Deb Wheelahan (executive vice president and chief operating officer) met that same morning and said, ‘we’ve got to give Bob a call’,” said Charles Boulier III, the bank’s president and CEO. “He’s a people person, he’s got a great attitude and he’s going to be able to serve our customers, without any doubt, to the highest standards possible.”

Mezzo, who served as a burgess and deputy mayor in the 1990s, was elected mayor by a two-to-one margin in 2009, when he knocked off then-incumbent Mayor Michael Bronko, a Republican. Mezzo was unchallenged the following election and handily defeated Republican challenger James O’Sullivan in 2013. On March 8, Mezzo announced he was not seeking re-election.

Since making that announcement, people involved the local political arena have speculated as to what Mezzo might do when he officially leaves office Nov. 16. Until last week, he has remained mum on his future plans.

Before being elected mayor, Mezzo, a Naugatuck native who was educated in public schools and received his bachelor’s degree and law degree from the University of Connecticut, served as director of government and economic affairs at the Waterbury Regional Chamber of Commerce for two years between 2006 and 2008. Before and after the Chamber job, he ran his own law practice out of an office in downtown Naugatuck.

He said every job he has had since graduating from law school has involved some sort of constituent service.

“There was an orientation toward business and business development in regards to the chamber and my law practice,” he said. “Obviously economic development has been a big part of my administration and something that I think is an ongoing process, and something I hope to continue as an employee of the bank.”

Mezzo said he was excited about the job opportunity because he believes the bank is one of the most respected institutions in the community and that it affords him an opportunity to remain committed to Naugatuck, where the bank has been headquartered since it started in 1870 as Naugatuck Savings Bank. It changed its name to Ion Bank in October 2013.

Mezzo said he had concerns that any path he might take following his time in office might have forced him to stop being involved as much in the community.

“At Ion Bank, community service is not only allowed, but it’s expected of the employees,” he said. “And that gives me the opportunity to still remain very active in a lot of the civic and philanthropic endeavors that I think are really at the core of Naugatuck and the Greater Naugatuck Valley.”