As part of GOOD Morning Wilton‘s coverage of the elections for the 2019 municipal elections, we have set out guidelines inviting each candidate to submit one 800-word op-ed piece before Election Day. Joshua Cole is a Republican candidate for the Board of Selectmen.

My wife and I moved to Wilton in 2007 for the natural landscapes, open spaces, and small-town charm. Wilton stood apart from neighboring towns because of the sense of community. We started our family here, and now have two young daughters attending Miller-Driscoll School.

As a current member of our highly effective Board of Selectmen, I have been able to bring to the Board a unique perspective as a father of young children, a member of a two-career household, and a commercial real estate and finance attorney.

I understand the pressures of balancing a home with two full-time careers and family life in today’s society. I understand what young families in Town, and those moving to Town, need from Town government to ensure a strong education for their children and a wonderful quality of life for their families. One example is when the Parks and Recreation Department recently acted to fill the void in after school childcare programs.

I understand the need to keep, maintain, and improve essential services, and the need to watch our “bottom line.” I also understand that most of our residents are in the midst of the same balancing act that I am, and need representation that will take the time to monitor changes in law and mandates that will impact that “bottom line.”

I also understand the pressures on our older residents, as my wife’s aunt also lives in town. I know that my friends and neighbors throughout Wilton need an advocate who will plan and help them protect what we have built.

I am a practicing commercial real estate and finance attorney representing large institutional lenders, developers, and property owners throughout Connecticut and New York. I have earned a professional reputation as someone who brings people with differing interests together to find common ground and solve complex problems. My legal background and experience allow me to critically and thoroughly evaluate all issues that come before the Board.

During my time on the Board, I have earned a reputation as a strong and reasoned advocate for all residents. I have promoted frank and open dialogue about the external challenges facing our Town. This was evident earlier this year when our Town found itself up against State legislators who proposed bills to force consolidation of our schools, re-direct the Town’s vehicle tax revenue to the State, and require Wilton to pay the State’s share of underfunded teacher pensions even though we have no ability to participate in union negotiations.

Any of those proposals, if passed, would have had a profound impact on Wilton taxpayers. Fortunately, none passed during the last legislative session, but because of the State’s fiscal issues there is no guarantee that something similar will not be proposed in the future. Strong leadership requires preparing and planning for the unexpected and keeping our residents informed about external matters that may impact our Town, and I have taken those steps during my time on the Board.

I have worked with First Selectwoman Lynne Vanderslice and other Board members to reduce costs and long-term borrowing. I am proud that our Board was able to change the scope of the Fire Station 2 renovation from a proposed project requiring bonding of more than $1 million, to a $250,000-$300,000 repair and maintenance project without sacrificing public safety and still providing our first responders with all the tools needed to do their jobs and keep our residents safe.

Through cooperation with Weston, our Board has implemented a plan to use up to 70% renewable energy sources for municipal and school buildings which, when completed, will result in projected average annual savings of up to $250,000.

Prior to joining the Board of Selectmen, I served as chair of the Zoning Board of Appeals and was a member of the Town Counsel selection committee. You may have also seen me volunteering at our Town’s Annual Clean-up Day, or watching my daughters play soccer, cheer for the youth football team, or at one of their dance recitals. Wilton is home to me and my family; it has had a proud past and a bright future.

Once elected, I will continue to be committed to:

  • Making necessary improvements to infrastructure, including our roads, high school track, and municipal buildings;
  • Encouraging appropriate development that balances the need for growth while preserving our natural landscapes and historic assets;
  • Reducing the growth of costs through appropriate shared services;
  • Ensuring Wilton remains a financially strong, safe, and nurturing environment;
  • Offering a quality education; and
  • Supporting an inclusive, compassionate, and welcoming community for all to live and work.

I appreciate your support. Thank you.