A Passion for Politics

In victory photos, Daryl Finizio ’99, New London, Conn.’s first elected mayor in nine decades, wears a lapel pin that features the URI seal.

“My father (URI math professor Norman Finizio) bought it for me on the day of my graduation,” Finizio, 34, recalled. “I’ve worn it every day since, and I will wear it for the rest of my life.”

As mayor, he works on the challenges that come with governing, applying many of the lessons he learned at URI. He remembers a class taught by former Gov. Bruce Sundlun that discussed issues similar to those New London is grappling with now.

“I think about the examples and the stories he had,” Finizio said. “I look to them for guidance for some of the situations we have to handle here at City Hall. They definitely stuck with me.”

Finizio’s passion for politics motivated him to get involved at URI. He worked on campaigns, obtained a state government internship via the Political Science Department, and former Gov. Lincoln Almond ’61 appointed him as a student representative on the Board of Governors for Higher Education. He was the University’s first openly gay student body president.

“It gave me exposure to politics and government,” said Finizio, a lawyer who is legally married to Todd Ledbetter. “That is where leaders of tomorrow get their training, participating in student activities. It’s amazing how much of those experiences really inform your career development.”

He credits the Honors Program’s faculty and staff for helping him win the prestigious Harry S. Truman Scholarship for academic achievement and public service: “It really catapulted my career.”

He earned a master’s degree in public administration from New York University and a law degree from Roger Williams University.

An amateur kick boxer and boxer, Finizio laughed when asked if his pugilistic skills had helped in political life: “Absolutely. You learn to bob, weave, take a punch, and give a punch. This is politics. And this is how it goes.”

By Ericka Taveres ’88