In February, Gov. Lamont came to Wilton to have coffee with First Selectwoman Lynne Vanderslice to after stirring up old school regionalization fears and mischaracterizing Wilton. He wanted to to smooth things over and pledge again: "No forced regionalization!"

Governor Ned Lamont may have hit a rough patch with Wilton last week, when he made some offhand comments about the town during an interview with the CT Mirror. The best way to smooth things over and reinforce his relationship with Wilton and its first selectwoman? Sit down over coffee at one of the town’s landmark spots, Orem’s Diner.

First thing Monday morning Lamont and First Selectwoman Lynne Vanderslice did just that, meeting in a corner booth and talking for almost an hour.

The Governor’s office had called Vanderslice last Friday morning with the invite to meet one-on-one over coffee. It followed that day’s publication of a GOOD Morning Wilton article about reaction here to the off-the-cuff remarks Lamont had made–unnecessarily and erroneously–about Wilton, reopening fears about forced school regionalization.

In Friday’s GMW article, Vanderslice invited the governor to visit and get to know Wilton better, beyond the stereotype of a wealthy, Fairfield County suburb.

Vanderslice told GMW she wasn’t surprised that Lamont reached out. “I met with the Governor several times in 2019, so I know he is someone who likes to meet and talk.”

GMW was alerted by a source who happened to be at Orem’s on Monday morning alerting us to the Governor’s arrival, so we hustled over to ask him a few questions before he headed back to Hartford. On his way out the door after the meeting, Lamont spoke with us for a few minutes.

First and foremost, he wanted to address the talk about regionalization that he’d inadvertently brought back into the spotlight.

“I heard that people are getting anxious about things like forced regionalization and I reinforced with Lynne and everybody else that that has never been our intent, it’s not what we’re going to do,” Lamont told GMW.

“What we try and do is get the government out of the way and make it easier for Lynne and others to share back-office services–the ways that we can hold down property taxes to save people some money,” he added.

During their meeting, Vanderslice tried to reinforce that Wilton isn’t what some legislators in Hartford might have portrayed last year during the battle over regionalization–as some wealthy, elitist town that wanted to keep socioeconomic and racial lines clearly drawn.

“I shared some of the demographic data that was in my presentation to the three boards, including income and housing data. We talked about what matters to the community, what makes Wilton unique and how in many ways we aren’t the stereotype,” she told GMW, adding, “I mentioned A Better Chance of Wilton, which he immediately connected with, as one of his roommates was an ABC student. He understood what it said about Wilton.”

There were other topics they covered–transportation and housing needs among them. Also on Vanderslice’s agenda were things that make a difference to the budget and her bottom line:  “We talked about the state health partnership plan and I again asked for help with binding arbitration reform,” she said.

Vanderslice also gave him feedback about the impact his remarks about Wilton had. “I was honest in what I told him,” was all she’d say. “After this meeting, I think he has a better understanding of Wilton and what we are about.”

And the governor’s response? “I felt it was genuine,” Vanderslice added.

Lamont was highly complimentary to Vanderslice as well. “Lynne’s  a star. She’s a good friend who I often talk to just to get a lay of the land,” he told GMW.

On the heels of last week’s rocky road, the two seem to have gotten the Governor’s relationship with Wilton on steadier ground. And it’s clear the two have a mutually respectful relationship–something that can only benefit the town, Vanderslice pointed out.

“As Wilton’s first selectwoman, anytime I can get 45 uninterrupted minutes with the Governor, it is a good thing for Wilton.”

One reply on “ONLY on GMW: Gov. Lamont Comes to Wilton for Coffee and “Better Understanding””

  1. Now, that’s the way things should work – get together and share your thoughts and find common ground! Thank you Governor Lamont and First Selectwoman Lynne Vanderslice!

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