ELECTION 2021: Meet the Candidate — Mangtao “Monty” Du, Board of Finance

Interview

Bio

Mangtao “Monty” Du is an engineer trained at Columbia University. He has spent the past 25 years designing and building transportation infrastructure in Connecticut, New York and worldwide. He is a principal and Board member at a Connecticut-headquartered engineering firm, well versed in business, finance, marketing and management.

Monty has been in the United States for 28 years and has lived in Wilton for seven years with his wife and son. As a first-generation American, Monty embraces our democracy and civil duties that come with citizenship. He has been an active participant in many community activities relating to local and state issues. Wilton’s self-sufficient, locally controlled, small-town government format constantly inspires Monty to be part of it and to help carry on this invaluable tradition.

Op-Ed

The Board of Finance (BOF) is one of the most important elected boards in Wilton. It oversees the Town of Wilton’s finances, including the budgets (tax dollars) for the town government and for the Wilton School District.

In my opinion, from the perspective of BOF, the single most pressing issue facing our town is how to maintain the quality of town services and improve school performances, while keeping the spending under control and maintaining a reasonable mill rate. My understanding is that BOF doesn’t have control over the line items in the Board of Education budget, while it has limited power over the line items in the Board of Selectmen budget. However, in either case, BOF can ask questions in public meetings aimed at ensuring that the money spent is spent purposefully, and not on things that don’t matter in terms of the town services or quality of education. There is no doubt that BOF must support our school system and the town services; however, spending more money is never the only key to improving services or educational quality. The more important question is, rather, exactly how the money is spent. If we don’t question these things, we can’t find out. BOF must exercise this power of fiscal check-and-balance on behalf of Wilton’s residents. BOF should always encourage the school district and the town government to look for ways to run operations efficiently and look for savings. Wilton’s residents are entitled to monitor how their own tax money is spent. As an elected member of BOF, I will have the obligation to inquire on these issues, on behalf of the constituents.

Several other issues are also critical within BOF’s purview:

  • Keep the debt service levels below 10% of budget, and preserve Wilton’s AAA rating with Moody’s, which ensures lowest bonding cost.
  • Meet Wilton employees’ pension obligations. Currently, it is 99% funded, but we must ensure it stays this way.
  • Work with the Town to maintain a sensible long-term capital plan for major improvement, maximizing the opportunities to tap into State and/or Federal Funding.
  • Comply with Freedom of Information Act, use Annual Audit to improve our financial robustness, and be alert for fraud risks. In other words, we must avoid “troubles”!

Throughout my life, I have exercised fiscal prudence, on personal finance as well as in business.  As a BOF member, I am going to apply the same principle, which is simply “living within your means.” [The] BOF needs to provide solid support for our school system and town government, but never “blank check” or “rubber stamp.”

I am an engineer, trained at Columbia University. I have spent the last 25 years designing and building transportation infrastructure in Connecticut, New York, and many other parts of the world. I am a principal and Board member in a CT-headquartered engineering firm.

As an engineer, my mind is strong in quantitative analysis. In other words, I am “good at numbers.” More importantly, in my line of work, I am always solving tangible, challenging problems with rational and practical solutions, which also must be cost-effective at the same time. As a corporate executive, I am well versed in business, finance, accounting, and management. This combination of skills and experience is highly relevant, and uniquely beneficial, to the BOF position that I am seeking.

I am passionate about serving our community. I was elected to Wilton’s Zoning Board of Appeals in 2019 and have been serving as its vice-chair since then. In this role, I have been focused on upholding Wilton’s zoning regulations, protecting quality of life, while always seeking opportunities to help those Wilton residents with true hardship.

In addition, I have been an active advocate on issues affecting Wilton and its residents. Among other things, I have actively participated in the Hands off Our Schools effort, worked closely with our state legislators, and testified before the State General Assembly in Hartford against the proposed school regionalization. Recently, I have testified once again to support Wilton’s effort in redistricting the CT House Representative District 143, so that Wilton can have its own state representative to adequately represent Wilton’s interests and unique characteristics. I hope that there will be a positive outcome from this effort.

I have lived in Wilton for seven years with my wife and son. I have been in the United States for 28 years. As a first-generation American, I embrace our precious democracy and civil duties. Wilton is a great American town that my family calls home. Wilton’s self-sufficient, locally-controlled, small-town government format constantly inspires me to be part of it, and to help carry on this invaluable tradition.