Why to vote for Republicans / Time for a real change in town leadership
Published 1:20 pm, Tuesday, November 1, 2011
Fields need tilling, car oil needs changing, computers need rebooting; plain and simple, it is time for a genuinely new administration in Fairfield. The reason voters should vote for the Republican ticket is really quite basic: Fairfield needs genuinely new leadership. Fairfield's government needs a fresh new start -- a governmental reboot, if you will.
The choice for the voters this year is clear: Rob Bellitto represents real change and a fresh tilling of the chief executive office in town, whereas Mike Tetreau represents the continuation of the Democratic administration that brought us secret deals, millions in cost overruns and union contracts that will burden the taxpayers for years to come. It's as simple as that.
Of course, my opinion is decidedly partisan, but it is nonetheless genuine and heartfelt. I understand there are many equally partisan Democrats who want to see the current Tetreau administration continue, however I have not met a single one who wants to continue the (former First Selectman Kenneth) Flatto administration. Even the politically savvy Flatto knew it was time for a change, so he handed the reigns over to the Democratic Town Committee's anointed candidate, Mike Tetreau.
When he took office as interim first selectman, over Republican objections, Democrat Tetreau had the opportunity to distinguish his administration from his predecessor, but there is no denying that nothing has really changed, despite claims otherwise. In fact, Tetreau has not implemented a single change in the makeup of the executive office staff, town administrators or the vendors who receive millions of our hard-earned tax dollars.
The so-called termination of Dick Saxl as town attorney was just a symbolic change: Saxl resigned for his role in advising Mr. Flatto in entering into the agreement with the state, leading to our obligation to pay the $7.5 million in cost overruns and losing our $6 million in long term parking revenue. Mr. Tetreau gave as a reason for asking for Mr. Saxl's resignation, "His credibility with me and, I believe the public, has been greatly impaired." But astonishingly enough, Mr. Saxl wasn't really relieved of his duties in Fairfield -- he has been kept on to represent the town with of all things, the appeals from the recent tax assessments. If he thinks Mr. Saxl's credibility is impaired, how do you think homeowners feel that he's handling their appeals? It's incredibly tone deaf to keep this work with the former town attorney.
The Democrat-led machine in town hall continues down the path of the Flatto administration they supported for so many years. This fact alone is compelling reason to vote for Republican Rob Bellitto for first selectman, but there is much more to it.
It is abundantly clear that Fairfield is becoming less and less affordable for families, single households and senior citizens. A high cost of living combined with reduced property values have made it difficult for many residents to simply make ends meet. This is one of the primary reasons why the upcoming local elections on Nov. 8 are so important. Make no mistake about it: There are broad-based philosophical differences between Fairfield Republicans and Democrats when it comes to spending your hard-earned tax dollars.
Fairfield Republicans believe that the problem is systemic and primarily driven by out-of-control costs relating to poorly negotiated labor agreements by our former first selectman. We also believe the situation could have been avoided over time. Instead it was exacerbated by inaction, poor planning, financial mismanagement, and incompetence. Unfortunately, years of placating unions at the expense of taxpayers has brought us to a tipping point where it's impossible to balance the budget without high tax increases or deep budget cuts each year into the foreseeable future. This is the Flatto-Tetreau legacy.
A vote for the GOP will put us on a track to recalibrate our poorly negotiated labor contracts, the real driver of the alarming growth in taxes and spending we've experienced in the last decade. Fairfield Republicans have taken action to address the issue by voting down labor contracts for the first time ever and by transitioning new employees to 401k from traditional pensions -- all with resistance from the Democrats and with intimidating protest by unions. Republicans have also been bold about cutting spending, scrutinizing appropriations, protecting our credit rating and improving the standard of conduct in town government. Rob Bellitto is the only first selectman candidate to address the issue in the debates and in his campaign platform. He said, "We cannot have a meaningful discussion about reducing the budget without talking about union contracts."
Don't get me wrong: I am not advocating one-party rule in Fairfield like the dysfunctional city of Bridgeport next door, or our state Capitol, where Democrats run the political table. Fairfield is blessed with a political tradition and system which enlists scores of volunteers to its elected and appointed boards and commissions.
These concerned citizens are usually affiliated with one of the two major parties, but for the most part are dedicated first and foremost to the town and not their party affiliation.
Republicans are eager to work with anyone who acknowledges the problems we face and is ready to take the necessary steps to overcome them. However, we are tired of the kind of leadership that believes we can manage the problems in the short-term and hope they will resolve themselves over time. This is precisely why Fairfield needs a regime change led by the Republican ticket of Rob Bellitto, Jim Walsh and Betsy Browne. Furthermore, open-mined voters are urged to vote row `B' Republican to continue, or at least maintain, the paradigm shift that occurred just two short years ago when Republicans gained the majority on the RTM.
Finally, I want to address the accusation made by my Democratic Town Committee counterpart that I have made an ad hominem attack against Tetreau for raising the fact that he has not paid real estate property taxes in over a decade. Is it wrong to point out what many voters would consider a relevant component of the candidate's life experience or lack thereof? Is this any different than four years ago when Democrats raised the issue of John Nelson and his wife's failure to vote in several municipal elections? Both candidates tout their professional and life experiences in support of their candidacy. The voters should get their complete resumes, including such facts -- not just the good stuff. Many will not give importance to this information. However, there are others who will find relevance in the fact that Bellitto has a more tangible stake in seeing that Fairfield holds the line on spending because, like most of them, he has experienced real property tax-bill increases over the past decade while Tetreau has not.
We have recruited some of the most dedicated, civically minded and fiscally responsible members of our community for the Republican ticket. As chairman of the Republican Town Committee I urge Fairfielders to vote for a regime change. Vote for greater accountability, less lockstep partisanship and a more responsible and more transparent budget process. On Nov. 8, vote for the Republican team on Row "B".
For more information about our candidates and more articles and op-ed articles about the election, please visit the RTC website at FairfieldRTC.com.
James T. Baldwin is chairman of the Fairfield Republican Town Committee.