Good evening. Tonight I am announcing my candidacy for the office of first selectman of the town of Trumbull.
I’m gratified and humbled to see so many people here tonight. I see not only democrats, but republicans and independents. I see the entire spectrum, from seniors to the very young. This represents what we are all about—bringing together the very best of Trumbull to make our community better.
As A lifelong Trumbull resident, i am proud of my local heritage, and the way my community has shaped who I am.
It is as a result of that character shaping experience, provided by our neighborhoods, our neighbors, our leaders and our educational system, that i now seek to return to our community a leadership that looks, thinks, and acts in a positive way, and to restore to our government an environment characterized by mutual respect and thoughtful dialogue.
I am not running to oppose any one person, but to bring fresh ideas to the debate and to offer a new tenor in the rancorous political atmosphere that has left many wondering whether Trumbull—a place we have always been proud to recognize as special—is still governable.
Over the last 18 months, with astonishing speed, many residents have come to believe that Trumbull is ungovernable. this is a shocking and unacceptable development.
I don’t believe Trumbull is ungovernable. I don’t believe the current climate of rancor will continue, not if we truly intend to get things done for our residents. I do believe that the voters agree with me on this point. And Ido think it’s time for a change in the first selectman’s office.
My candidacy is based on several things. First, I believe any aspirant to the office of first selectman must submit to you—and to the voters—his or her record and views. Second, she should clearly demonstrate a competence and experience—in government and in life—that will be essential for success in the office and bring a level of assurance to the electorate. And last, I’m convinced that I can win your nomination and the election.
The job of Trumbull first selectman cannot be one where we find out after the fact, as we did in 2009, that the occupant isn’t ready. Competence and Experience can be easily sold to an unwitting electorate, but maturity, wisdom, and thoughtfulness must be characteristics that go along with competence and experience.
My friends, I’ve spent a good part of my life in the service of Trumbull. In the political realm, I spent the last eight years on the Town Council. But my service has not just been in the government. Even as I built a career as a medical illustrator—I graduated summa cum laude from the University of Bridgeport and I have a masters degree from the Medical College of Georgia—I served in other ways, like being a PTA volunteer, a member of the Nichols Garden Club, a member of the Rotary Club, and, among others, a member of the Historical Society.
And let me say this: A lifetime of service in non-political organizations provides an invaluable perspective regarding participation in the life of the community. It teaches you about how those and all community organizations—and their people—enrich our town. It teaches you about the values of our residents: How they support each other, and how they go the extra mile. It teaches you to look beyond just political groups when you’re seeking to do the right thing. Some of us understand that. Our political opponents don’t.
In other cases, the roles I’ve played have been significant. I was president of the Nichols Improvement Association. There’s no question how much that helped me when I led the fight last year to defeat the fuel-cell energy plant. I’m a member of the Trumbull Land Trust. That taught me the value of open-space preservation, something I’ve consistently supported on the Town Council.
As a member of the Council, I participated in—and often I led the way—as our town made its biggest decisions during those eight years. Among those decisions was:
- Our sustained support for education. The Trumbull school system is our crown jewel. It’s the key to the future for our kids and it’s a key to the appeal of the town of Trumbull. People buy houses in towns they believe will protect their investments. Great schools do that. If I receive your nomination and I am elected, I will continue to support our school system as a top priority.
- I strongly supported the high-school renovation project, and helped build support for it among my council colleagues. Now we have a magnificent new campus. That facility will serve our young people well for the next 40 years. BY DOING IT NOW, WE HAVE SAVED at least $4 MILLION UNDER THE ORIGINAL projections.
- I was a major supporter of the Early Childhood Education Center, one of the most innovative and valuable education initiatives our town or any town has made in the last decade or more.
- Our seniors have told me time and again how much they love our town. And we know the value of their wisdom and their contributions. So I’ve IMPLEMENTED a variety of senior tax-relief programs in my time on the Council. I also supported the renovations of the senior center. It’s a small way of saying thanks, and helping seniors make ends meet.
- I helped restore the Hillcrest Planetarium after years of disuse.
- Let me also say this: It goes without saying that Ray Baldwin is a great Democrat. He did more for our town over his career than anyone I know. That said, since 2004, I voted five times to reduce the first selectman’s proposed budget. When the Republicans claim, as they surely will, that I’ve been a down-the-line supporter of budget increases, you need to know that’s NOT TRUE. And you need to remember, too, that our town’s budget-making process is intended to be conducted in a way that engages twoparties in the decision-making, not one. That is one of our strengths as a community.
From all of this experience, and more, I’ve developed a sense of what Trumbull is. Our town is a special place. It’s a town that works. Our government is lean and responsive. Our roads, historically, have been well paved. Our workers are talented and dedicated. Our parks are beautiful, well equipped, and impeccably maintained. Our emergency services are the best there is. Our schools are among the best in the state, even though our funding levels have always been prudent. We produce the best, most spirited young people in the world. Our neighborhoods are magnificent, and our people—a mosaic of diversity—are our backbone.
But in the last two years, an unwelcome change has come to Trumbull. The outlook has become pessimistic and gloomy. The hand at the tiller is anything but steady. Our current leadership has been telling us that we should fear the future. Our current leadership tells us that in Trumbull, we’re no longer able to think big. Our current leadership says that we’re edging close to a precipice. That leadership tells us that the current Trumbull is a place where individuals and communities working together no longer have the ability to prevail in tough circumstances. And that is why i no longer believe in the current leadership. My belief is that by being here tonight, you don’t believe in it either.
I ask: Do you believe that Trumbull has a bright future?
I ask: do you believe that Trumbull’s leaders can and should work together in an atmosphere of mutual respect?
I ask: do you believe that we can support high public services – including an exceptional school system – without overburdening our taxpayers?
If, yes, then I ask you to believe in me.
I believe our current leadership has taken us down the wrong path. their leadership IS the problem. Beyond their negative outlook, there’s a mean-spiritedness in the air. There is a penchant for attacking and ostracizing—for not acknowledging differences in perspective and working to find common ground. This is unseemly and counterproductive. It is not representative of Trumbull.
And Beyond the mean-spiritedness is a troubling track record of broken promises and bungled management. This year alone:
- The Board of Finance, for the first time in 17 years, failed to produce a budget.
- The Town Council, in a bizarre, chaotic session, voted to create a “placeholder” account for Board of Education money, then a few minutes later reversed itself and voted to actually remove money from the school board’s control, in an apparent violation of state statute.
- The Board of Education came close to suing the town over this shift.
- Eight members of the Council walked out of a meeting called to consider a veto that they believed is in violation of the Town Charter.
- increasingly, major decisions are made based on legal opinions, not legislative consensus.
- The town of Trumbull was embarrassed and made smaller when Tim Herbst played political games with the state government—and lost—over the proposed Bridgeport magnet high school. Herbst’s heavy-handed behavior cost Trumbull at least $3 million in immediate payments, and far more in additional funds over the projected life of the magnet school.
- Because of harsh budget cuts, our school system had to eliminate TEACHING POSITIONS AND PROGRAMS THAT SUPPORT student ACHIEVEMENT. Think of how that $3 million in foregone funds from the magnet-school inter-municipal agreement would have helped with the school budget this coming year!
- Our roads have not been paved.
- Our taxes have gone up two consecutive years, but our quality of life is declining. That’s a toxic combination.
- A Republican-controlled Charter Revision commission is proposing the most Radical changes in our history. It’s an array of solutions looking for a problem—there are none! And it’s also an array of initiatives that will forever tear asunder the system of governance that has been built and supported by both parties over 50 years. If passed, these charter changes will change trumbull as we know it.
- And all through this, our town government has become a spectacle throughout the region.
People have asked my why I’m running. And I say this:
I run because Trumbull is on the wrong path, and we need to right it.
I run because I refuse to stand on the sidelines as our town is led in a radical new direction, a direction that destroys what we’ve built together over half a century.
I run because it is clear that the only way to change the acrimonious, divisive direction we’re moving in is to change the acrimonious, divisive people in charge.
I run because I have a vision of Trumbull that’s directly in conflict with the current leadership.
I run because I seek a government marked by consensus and respect, not hard-heartedness and small-mindedness.
I run because I refuse to be the first generation that hands its children a diminished Trumbull, not a better one.
I run because I seek to honor the tradition of Trumbull Democrats, who have had the privilege of occupying the first selectman’s office for 30 of the last 36 years. There’s a reason for that record—we’ve done good for the town.
I run because I, for one, still believe in the Trumbull credo—and I know you do too: “Pride in our Past, Faith in our Future.”
Before I finish, let me take a minute to thank my family—my husband, Scott, who has been my partner through the worst times and the best, and my children, Emma and Sara, who keep me grounded as a parent.
And let me acknowledge our past first selectmen, Ray Baldwin, Dave Wilson, Paul Timpanelli and jim butler. Should I win the nomination, and then the election, I hope that I can do half the good things that those leaders did for Trumbull.
And let me also acknowledge Nancy DiNardo, our extraordinary town (and state) chairwoman, whose wisdom and leadership guides all of us.
Fellow residents of Trumbull, We have a winnable election coming up in the fall. Let’s remember the Trumbull credo. let’s work hard for the next six months. and let’s work together as we move on to November and victory!