ELECTION 2021: Wilton Democratic Town Committee Op-Ed

Tom Dubin is the chair of the Wilton Democratic Town Committee.

The funny thing this year is that it can be hard to tell the difference between the parties’ campaigns. Both support fiscal responsibility, great schools, increased amenities, a vibrant downtown, and control over local matters. Both propose candidates with kids in our schools, and all candidates are our neighbors. But dig a bit and the quality of the Democratic candidates is clear. Dig further and concerns about several Republican candidates may also be apparent. All politics are local, and this year’s choices may affect the character of the Wilton we love.

Wilton’s Democratic candidates are experienced and well-informed. Electing them will continue the Democratic majority on [Board of] Finance and chairmanship of [Board of] Education. Bas Nabulsi brings years of experience on Wilton’s P&Z and extensive legal background to our Board of Selectmen. He will ensure excellent follow-through on the well-conceived Plan of Conservation and DevelopmentKeith Denning brings community and health expertise as former chief anesthetist at two hospitals and years of volunteerism with Operation Smile and similar charitable organizations. Bas and Keith will broaden the expertise and perspectives of Wilton’s selectmen.

Sandy Arkell was appointed to Finance with unanimous, bi-partisan approval and now deserves election to a full term. She brings expert skills as the principal accounting officer at MasterCard. Frank Bria brings extensive financial, commercial, and legal experience as senior vice president at GenRe. Sandy and Frank insist on fiscal responsibility while supporting our schools and supporting disciplined strategic investments (e.g. new police headquarters).

Our schools are meeting the high challenges of COVID and are operating wonderfully (while always engaged in continuous improvement). Debbie Low deserves to be re-elected chair of Education. She celebrates the non-partisan nature of the Board, which has created responsible budgets and developed important new initiatives such as “Portrait of the Graduate.” Our schools will further benefit from the skills and engagement of Pam Ely (Children’s Day School in Wilton and a true leader in special education), and Nicola Davies (all PTAs, currently treasurer of Wilton High School‘s PTSA, and deeply involved with several town organizations).

Republicans also offer several qualified candidates, but too many embrace excesses of their party today. Their two candidates for Education oppose Wilton’s teaching of equity, with one stating, “It is very important to me that this concept of ‘equity’ be removed from our vocabulary.” On the contrary, our schools have embarked on a deeply-considered program to address concepts of equity and inclusion, and it would be a disservice for that to be interrupted. Further, both Republican Education candidates have aggressively opposed our schools’ masking response to COVID, even prior to vaccine availability. Another Republican candidate claims: “The single most pressing issue facing our town is that legitimate health concerns are being used as an excuse to further erode personal liberties…”  We disagree and believe she misplaces personal liberty and personal responsibility. These Republican candidates are likely fine neighbors and friends, but they should not be setting policy and leading our town.

Wilton’s Democrats have no single litmus test, but we support the thoughtful, difficult decisions our schools have made regarding COVID, including masking. We believe personal responsibility is key to moving beyond the COVID crisis. And we support our schools’ determination to address issues of diversity and equity, which we believe is required for a strong 21st-century education.

Wilton’s Democratic candidates understand and love our town. They’ll continue Wilton’s positive path with optimism, collaboration, and energy. They are among the most qualified candidates ever to run for office here. Please learn more about them online — and please vote Row A for an even stronger Wilton.

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