ELECTION 2021: Meet the Candidate — Ken Hoffman, Planning & Zoning Commission

Bio

Ken Hoffman has lived in Wilton for over 21 years. Before moving to Wilton, he lived in Easton, where he served on the Board of Finance. Ken and his family have built or restored four homes in Wilton, giving him a strong appreciation of how our Planning and Zoning regulations contribute to Wilton.

Since 2018, Ken has served on the Wilton Pension Investment Committee, helping guide our investment strategy. Ken is the president of Optima Group, a consulting firm to the financial services industry. He holds a BA from Claremont McKenna and MS from Yale. Ken sits on the board of Access Help, a national charity providing peer-to-peer counseling.

Ken and his partner have four daughters and one son, all of whom graduated from Wilton High School.

Op-Ed

When our family chose to move to Wilton, we were excited about how much the town offered our growing family. We discovered great schools to educate our children, sports and recreation programs that nourished all levels and abilities, ample open space to enjoy biking and hiking, and a downtown that seemed to be attracting an expanding mix of businesses, entertainment, and dining.

Twenty-one years later, although our children have grown and moved on to careers across the globe, we still love living here, enjoying the lifelong friendships we have made and the opportunity to give back by serving on local town boards and committees.

On the surface, Wilton seems to have weathered the pandemic well. We have preserved the high quality of our schools, maintained our police, fire and town infrastructure, and protected the beauty of our open spaces while managing use and recreation.

Once you scratch below the surface, however, I think you will also find opportunity for positive change. When you walk through the center of town or drive past the empty buildings on Route 7 you may observe an uncomfortable truth — that Wilton is having trouble attracting and sustaining commercial and retail businesses. Well-managed growth is essential to what we need to ensure Wilton can thrive in the future.

But to thrive, Wilton needs to compete. We are surrounded by other towns that also offer excellent schools and a balance of urban and rural amenities. Yet some of these towns may be doing a better job attracting new businesses as well as creating an environment where employees of these businesses can live, work, shop, and dine.

While many of us can be thankful for the effect the rising real estate market has on our own personal finances, we need only to look at the cost of housing in Wilton to see that our beautiful town is simply unaffordable for many of the families who work for our schools, fire and police departments, town infrastructure, and town hall.

Wilton is entering a process of refining the town’s Master Plan. This will help us modernize and codify our zoning regulations, but more is needed than simply an update of code.

Through the planning process we can address key questions that include:

  • Can we better coordinate planning and zoning with economic development so that businesses will want to move to Wilton as well as expand in our community?
  • How can we support a range of housing that offers people who work in Wilton many different types of opportunities to live in Wilton?
  • What ways can land use be regulated to promote better access to transportation and walkable access to dining and entertainment?
  • Can we increase housing choice by encouraging and working with developers who will build multi-family housing that will still blend well with our rural community?
  • Will Wilton attract tomorrow’s successful workers who may be interested in different housing and amenities than their parents?
  • Will we strategically look at how our open space will be preserved and expanded while ensuring that we plan for easy access and upkeep?

As a future member of the Planning and Zoning Commission, I believe I can add substantially to these efforts. As a business owner, I lead teams that are responsible for the strategic plans of some of the world’s largest financial service companies. These plans include recommendations for tough yet practical decisions where the way forward balances the costs, risks, and benefits for employees, clients, and shareholders.

I look forward to serving with Eric Fanwick who is also running for the board as well as all the members of Planning & Zoning. This commission has long operated in a bipartisan manner. I hope to help continue that tradition.

I am also excited to be part of a fantastic Democrat slate for all of Wilton’s open positions. As we serve, we are ready to cooperate with all of the town’s boards and commissions — so we can move forward while respecting what already makes Wilton a wonderful place to live.

If you share our belief in making Wilton an even greater place for people to live, work, and enjoy their free time; if you believe in being part of a community that embraces and helps its neighbors; please vote for us and for the whole Democratic slate on Nov. 2.