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. Lynne Vanderslice is the Republican candidate for First Selectwoman.
My husband and I have lived in Wilton for 32 years. We raised our now-grown son here. We’ve remained because of our friends, Wilton’s sense of community and its wonderful quality of life.
Four years ago, I was elected first selectwoman because I understood how the state’s serious financial situation impacts Wilton. I presented a vision to help insulate Wilton from the state’s economic pressures by reducing the cost of government, growing the grand list and protecting our most valuable assets: our schools, infrastructure, natural environment, and quality of life.
Working with town personnel, the BOS, and others boards and commissions, we have delivered on that vision. I am seeking re-election because there is still more to do. I continue to have the support of unaffiliated, Democrat and Republican residents, who served with me on the Boards of Selectmen and Finance, the Security Task Force, and Wilton nonprofits, and who worked with me professionally.
My administration has delivered:
- A more efficient town government with fewer personnel
- Joint initiatives saving the schools $400,000 per year in energy, personnel, and non-teaching related costs. These savings help make possible building upgrades like those just completed at Cider Mill
- Annual increases in the commercial grand list, with the October 2019 growth expected to significantly exceed the three-year previous growth rate and there’s future growth in the pipeline
- A more responsive government, with accelerated road paving, technologies like SeeClickFix, e-alerts and road scanning, expanded elderly tax relief, senior and prescription discount programs, and aftercare programs
- Recreational improvements, including coconut husk infill turf fields and Wilton High School tennis courts
- Environmental initiatives, including eliminating crumb rubber playing fields and enhancements to ensure the long-term health of the Norwalk River
- Increased and improved communication to residents and potential residents and businesses
Long-term planning has resulted in:
- Our recently approved Plan of Conservation of Development (POCD), which provides a roadmap for development, while maintaining our history and natural landscapes
- Our plan to meet 70% of building electricity needs through renewable sources is being executed through roof-top solar and sponsorship of Virtual Net Metering solar fields
- Committees charged with long-term recommendations for Schenck’s Island, Merwin Meadows, and municipal buildings
- Our ongoing 15-miles/year paving plan
We have focused on the Center to ensure its vitality and appeal:
- We began with improvements to Schenck’s Island and the river to open views and draw people into the Center
- We will begin development of a Master Plan for Wilton Center and surrounding Rte. 7 in early 2020
- Construction of the pedestrian bridge from the train station to the Center is a reality through a new grant award. The bridge will facilitate mixed used development around the train, where the current office building has significant vacancies and the town owns undeveloped land. The bridge will also incentivize new residential options within the Center
- This greater residential density is required to ensure economic vitality within the Center
As first selectwoman, I am a hands-on CEO. I have proven my ability to professionally and responsibly manage the Town’s finances and operations by reducing annual average budget growth to .82%, returning budget savings of more than $3 million, injecting more data into decision making to allow for better decisions, and seamlessly transitioning through the retirement of key town employees.
My pragmatic and transparent approach to problem solving combined with my ability to build consensus among people of different views was evident through the sharing of services between the town and schools, the joint solar project between Wilton and Weston, and my working with other leaders to build a stronger sense of community.
My strong advocacy skills and responsiveness to residents’ concerns were evident in how I addressed Aquarion’s Cannondale application, school regionalization proposals, the state proposed roundabout at Belden Hill Rd. and Wolfpit Rd. and the March 2018 storm.
My deep understanding of town government; extensive volunteer service with leadership positions in A Better Chance of Wilton, the Wilton Library and the Wilton Playshop, and as founder of a free educational program for economically disadvantaged and immigrant children in Danbury; and my professional experience as a financial executive and auditor, and someone responsible for a staff of 150 are unique among the candidates.
While remaining realistic about the state economy, we will continue to work to ensure Wilton remains attractive and affordable for current and future residents and businesses by:
- Sharing services and resources with surrounding communities
- Making necessary infrastructure and amenity investments, including completing the 15 miles/year paving plan, replacing the stadium track, and continuing to address municipal building needs
- Working with regional partners to address cell service issues
- Advocating for state legislative changes, such as binding arbitration and mandate reforms, to allow us to better control and manage our costs and decision-making.
I hope over the past four years, I have earned your confidence and your vote. Learn more on my website. Thank you.