It's about quality of life, not arbitrary budget cuts
Published 1:20 pm, Tuesday, November 1, 2011
"Today we got our freedom, and our dignity, from the simple act of voting." Such was the quote of the day in the New York Times, Oct. 24, from a Tunisian man casting his first vote.
My undertaking in this piece is to provide reasons for voters to vote Democrat on Nov. 8. This presumes that voters will vote. Did you know that less than half our voters voted in the last municipal elections? Do you engage in issues of the day applauding the actions of lawmakers you approve and scowl with disapproval at those other hooligans? But do you vote? Did you know that numerous local races over the past several years were decided by less than 10 votes, some by a mere one or two? Your vote counts. Exercise your freedom and your dignity.
If you want to keep your taxes low, vote Democrat. Michael Tetreau has already put School Superintendent David Title on notice that he expects to be involved with the school budget in the early stages of development. Why? To identify unnecessary waste and keep the budget real in these tough economic times.
All candidates, regardless of affiliation, want low taxes. Delivering is something else. Michael Tetreau delivers, as we have seen in his tenure as interim first selectman. It was Mike who identified the cost overruns at the Metro Center. Was that enough for Mike? No, he supported an audit of the project in open forums. Was that enough for Mike? No, he pursued an attorney's opinion to determine if the town has contract rights. Was that enough for Mike? No, he engaged the state and the developer and came away with $3 million from the state. He participated in multiple meetings of Board of Finance (and subcommittees) and of RTM (and subcommittees). Mike's method of operation is honest, direct, transparent, with one major goal -- to save us taxes. His ability to deliver has been acclaimed by Democrats and Republicans.
When I look at the Republican side of the ledger, I don't like what I see. I don't see their top of the ticket candidate, Mr. No-Show Rob Bellitto, attending the Metro Center meetings; I don't see Mr. Bellitto taking leadership on anything, yet he wants to be first selectman -- for what, his attorney resume? I see secret meetings of the Republican super majority RTM at budget time, making decisions behind closed doors far from public view and without disclosure to their Democrat counterparts -- hardly transparent. And I just can't help thinking back to the time of our last Republican first selectman, John Metsopoulos, who for one disastrous term spent school board money like a drunken sailor. Mike Tetreau has earned your vote. He is completely vested in fighting to save us dollars. And unlike Mr. Bellitto, Mike Tetreau always shows up -- and he delivers!
Cristin McCarthy-Vahey has distinguished herself to the highest degree of integrity. She is a great communicator, calm, intelligent, caring for our citizens' needs. Cristin quickly rose to leadership in the RTM, gaining respect from both sides of the aisle. There are some people who you meet that you just know will accomplish great things, and that is Cristin. She is a fact gatherer, a fact interpreter, a planner, and she pursues and gets results -- and, she'll bring you along with her -- this team of Tetreau / McCarthy-Vahey is as open and transparent as this town will have ever seen.
Our Board of Finance candidates are newcomers Patrick McCabe and Elaine Gaffney. Clearly, running against incumbents is a challenge, but Patrick and Elaine have risen to the occasion. Patrick is an attorney with a strong financial background. Patrick demonstrated his skill at the League of Women Voters' debate -- in fact, he stole the show. Patrick is a rock star. There was no question he couldn't handle, and he was clear and concise. Elaine, who has a long history in our community, is also a fresh face. Quite frankly, the Board of Finance, long a male-dominated board, can use an occasional challenge from a different gender perspective.
I wish I had more space to discuss our five Board of Education candidates, who are running for three seats (the Republicans have their two candidates; they will win by just being on the ballot). We offer choices. Stacey Zahn is a veteran -- she is reasonable, solid, and has that veteran background that is necessary so the board doesn't repeat mistakes. Jennifer Kennelly has worked in the schools; Jessica Gerber is well known in the school community for her dedication to PTA work; Neal Fink has a technology background and is active in PTA; Philip Dwyer has run a YMCA, been on a Board of Education in Westchester County, and his resume is otherwise most impressive. Most importantly, all five understand that the Board of Education is not a building committee -- its main function is to serve the children of Fairfield with the best education that can be delivered.
Right now there are just 12 Democrats on a 50-member RTM. It is crucial to the success of our town that this imbalance be corrected. Fairfield cannot afford back room secret decisions by a Republican RTM. Mike Tetreau and the Democrats will always stand for openness in government. If it were possible for each voter to meet all 100 candidates for the RTM, Democrats would applaud this possibility -- as we believe we have the best people to serve-- we are a true cross-section of our community. We are seniors, parents, professionals, financiers, managers, workers, and even unemployed. We believe we are most qualified and represent the face of this town. The same is true for our zoning board candidates.
We live in Fairfield for our quality of life. Our Democratic candidates understand that each decision made for this town will engage the endless balance of cost to the taxpayers and providing the services that are needed. We all want a competent police force. We all want a capable fire department. We all want good schools, smooth roads, and parks and recreation facilities we can be proud of. The Democrats understand this balance, and unlike the Republicans, will not simply slash arbitrary dollars and kick the can to the next board as the Republican RTM did this past year. Irresponsible! What they are kicking down the road is our quality of life that brought us to Fairfield in the first place.
In closing, I urge you to vote on Nov. 8, and to support Mike Tetreau and Cristin McCarthy-Vahey and the Democratic team. We are ready to lead in substance. Vote for openness in government, vote for quality service, vote for lower taxes. We will never let you, the taxpayers and voters, down. Democrats deliver!
Ellery Plotkin is chairman of the Fairfield Democrat Town Committee.