On Monday, Sept. 21, Lynne Vanderslice, candidate for first selectman, held an open discussion focused on issues of concern to Wilton seniors. Approximately 40 residents attended the talk in the Wilton Library’s Brubeck Room, and shared their thoughts on subjects including property taxes, increasing Wilton’s commercial tax base, the Miller-Driscoll renovation project, and more.
Leading off the session, Vanderslice described her background and her beliefs and ideas, telling those who felt their taxes were too high that she agrees and feels the same way about her own taxes.
She also said that she is uncomfortable with the growing “fracture” within the town and noted that while she voted for the Miller-Driscoll renovation project, she did agree that it’s a project that needs to be watched carefully and needs to come in under budget. She noted that in general, “it’s important to get out the facts, and that better communication from the town is critical,” and “needs to be done on a more regular basis.”
Vanderslice also told the crowd, “The head of Sensible Wilton said he respects me.”
Vanderslice described what her approach to town budgeting would be if she took office, noting that it would be similar to how she said she has approached it as a member of the town’s Board of Finance, and that looking carefully at costs was “what I did professionally.” She noted that she would aim to keep any increase “flat to 1-percent.” Similarly, she would hope to work with the Board of Education to keep their increases low, noting that while the first selectman has no oversight of the school district’s budget there should be ways to explore sharing costs as a way to help the town’s financial process.
She told the attendees that she would hope to do more outreach to business and property owners as economic development is a priority.
One of the main topics discussed was ways to keep seniors in town. She said that while she hadn’t been as familiar with the Stay at Home Wilton organization previously, she has started looking into it and has liked what she’s learned about it. She added that she’s concerned that empty nesters looking to downsize in Wilton don’t have a lot of housing options, but was encouraged to learn that of the first houses sold in the River Ridge housing development, “15 of 17 homes were sold to empty nesters or snowbirds.” She added that she wants her own friends to be able to stay in Wilton in the years to come.
Several residents who attended expressed their support for her candidacy in the preambles to the questions they posed. One member of the audience told her that he felt, “Wilton doesn’t give us the message they want us to stay.”
Much of the discussion also revolved around Wilton’s low voter turnout, and Vanderslice noted that when she first moved to Wilton turnout was much higher but has steadily declined. She told the audience that she “doesn’t agree with” the charter’s current mandate that without 15-percent voter turnout to a Vote of the Town Meeting, the town budget as presented by the board of finance is automatically approved.