I love New Canaan. I am running for first selectman because I want to preserve and build on what is great about our town. I have the experience necessary to tackle some of the key issues that will make New Canaan even better.
My background is financial. I have an MBA in Finance. I worked in the securities industry for eight years; I served on New Canaan’s Board of Finance for eight years. In addition, I was elected for two terms on the Town Council; served on the Charter Revision Commission, and currently serve on the Parks and Recreation Commission. I have served on many nonprofit boards, frequently with budget responsibilities. These experiences give me a unique vantage point to understand both New Canaan’s strengths and the areas that we can improve.
I have many goals, but being a fiscally responsible steward of residents’ tax dollars is my top priority. I believe there are concrete ways to stabilize our taxes. As first selectman, I pledge:
- To adopt zero-based budgeting wherever possible.
- To streamline the mid-budget cycle process to make it less punishing. Thus, department managers could avoid the need for budgetary safety margins.
- To rationalize our fees in all areas – permitting fees, user fees, fees-in-lieu. Some are fully priced, while others should be reassessed. As a simple example, the requirement for parking spaces can be satisfied by paying a $17,500 fee-in-lieu per space while it costs considerably more to build new decked parking.
- To find efficiencies in the operating budget. I will convene monthly meetings with the finance heads of the Town and of the Board of Education to identify ways that we can save money together.
- To seriously investigate installing solar energy on our public buildings. This is not solely for sustainability, but also because we can save significant dollars. According to the Fairfield Clean Energy Task Force, Fairfield is realizing a $2,400,000 savings per year with their clean energy installations – with minimal installation costs.
We must ensure our schools continue to be top-rated. Education is the foundation of our children’s futures.
Cell service and parking
Our community needs town-wide cell service. Many developing nations have vastly superior cell service to ours. As a result of recent public meetings, West School is off the table, but there are other areas that will allow us to move forward. When the Utilities Commission resolves the cell service problem at the water tower, and can focus on the wider problem, we should heed what they recommend and move forward. Let’s make sure that our Police, Fire, Ambulance and C.E.R.T. have the appropriate communications ability – town-wide. This is a safety issue for you, for me, for our kids, and for our public safety organizations.
We need to address our parking issues for our commuters and for our town-center. Is the Lumberyard the optimal lot to deck? Is it possible, for instance, to strike a deal with the state and deck the Pine Street side of the train station? We could potentially gain 100 spaces with much less disruption to the 351 commuters that currently park at the Lumberyard. Is it possible to turn some of the parking on Cherry Street into permitted commuter parking? What about decking Talmadge Hill? I will ensure that all options be thoughtfully considered and will follow through with a cogent and effective plan.
In the town-center, more than 400 employees currently seek parking on a daily basis. Think how much easier it could be to park on Main and Elm if we provided adequate off-street parking for the people who work in our town.
Different from opponent
What, you might ask, is the difference between me and my opponent?
I would answer that I have a different approach to problem solving. I believe in collaborative efforts. I believe in building consensus and working together. I believe that an elected official is a public servant. And I believe it is the first selectman’s job is to hear beyond the loudest voices, to put aside personal opinion, to understand what is the will of the community as a whole, and to deliver what is best to preserve and improve our New Canaan.
Original at the New Canaan Advertiser