I am running for First Selectman to make a difference.
The next first selectman will inherit a Town, which is fiscally strong, yet the tax burden for most has become too high. Holding the line on taxes through lower costs, managed borrowings and increased revenues through economic development will be a primary focus.
I will lead the Board of Selectmen in thinking differently to identify efficiencies. This includes building budgets up from zero and justifying all expenditures. I have ideas on initiatives to share resources with the schools and will work with the BOE to explore and implement them. I will also reach out to area towns to explore sharing resources with them, starting out small and then building on those small successes. Other towns have done this, such as Milford and Ansonia, who are sharing public works equipment.
The same “thinking differently” approach to will be applied to capital projects. We will look at needs over a 10-year horizon and consider all possible solutions. The BOS will continue to challenge the Miller-Driscoll Building Committee to bring the project in under budget and I will recommend we challenge them to set aside their cost savings rather than adding them to their contingency fund.
Economic development is the driver of increased revenues. I will continue to work with the Economic Development Commission in developing initiatives to differentiate Wilton, including additional housing options and incorporating a view of the the river into downtown and improving access to Schenck’s Island to encourage people into the town center.
As first selectman, I will reach out to commercial taxpayers by co-hosting “Listening Lunches” with the Economic Development Commission, with invitations extended to all town board members including Planning & Zoning. We must be out in front of economic development and participate in the vision for future opportunities.
Voter outreach and communication will be expanded through a multi prong approach. To allow residents to have a greater voice, I will have First Selectman Open Office Hours for residents to come in and share their thoughts. If they have an idea for a new initiative, where appropriate, I will help facilitate their idea. To increase voter awareness and turnout, I will use the town phone notification system to alert voters of town meetings, public hearings, and other critical events and will encourage greater exchanges at these meetings.
We must continue to encourage our seniors to stay and assist them in doing so. In that regard, I will recommend a standing Senior Affairs Committee to bring forward topics and to document needs and resources. I will recommend to the Board of Selectmen a re-examination of the senior tax relief program in order to improve its effectiveness and reach.
My executive experience qualifies me to take on the challenges of this CEO position. At the Coca-Cola Bottling Company of New York, I managed a staff of 150, equal in size to the Town’s workforce. I have reorganized and restructured departments and functions, and I have the additional experience of having been a CPA with PriceWaterhouseCoopers. My seven years on the Board of Finance (BOF) have given me a deep understanding of Wilton municipal government. On day one, I will be able to hit the ground running.
During my fifteen years with A Better Chance of Wilton (ABC) including two as president, I managed an organization comprised of over 75 volunteers and managed the expansion and renovation of the houses on Godfrey Pl. and Cannon Rd.. Through ABC, four years as treasurer of the Wilton Playshop and two years as development chair at the Wilton Library and the numerous other organizations I have been involved with, I have come to know the community well.
As a BOF member, I have advocated for and facilitated increased transparency and outreach to the community. I have always served in a nonpartisan manner as evidenced by endorsements from the six BOF members who have worked with me the longest: four Republicans⎯Warren Serenbetz, Gail Lavielle, Al Alper and Jeff Rutishauser⎯and two Democrats⎯Andy Pforzheimer and Jim Meinhold.
In addition to financial and management skills, I bring a unique perspective to the position, a perspective demonstrated during the 2011 Teacher contract arbitration hearing in which I provided testimony, which in the words of one arbiter was unlike anything he had seen in his 40-year career. The Board of Education attorney credited me with having a significant role in the outcome, which was the best contract by a CT district for that year.
Thank you for taking the time to read and learn about my qualifications. In my next column I will write in greater detail about my vision for our community. In the meantime, please visit my website.
Please contact me with any questions and please vote for me on Nov. 3.