Special Election: Bateson wants to continue what he started
FAIRFIELD — The son of a former schoolteacher, Republican Edward Bateson wants to continue as one of the town’s selectmen, after being appointed in December to fill the vacancy created when Selectman Laurie McArdle resigned.
He finds himself in a controversial election, one he and fellow GOP Selectman Chris Tymniak have fought in the courts, though unsuccessfully at this point. Because of the pending court case, Bateson did not participate in either of the two candidate forums that were held, and began putting out lawn signs.
Bateson wants to be on the board, he said, to assist in “keeping Fairfield well financed, provide reliable, professional and cost-effective services,” as well as maintaining the town’s desirability and affordability, while also ensuring the quality of the town’s public schools.
A small business owner, Bateson, 52, served on the Representative Town Meeting from 2007 until 2016, when he was appointed to the Board of Selectmen. Bateson is listed as the owner of Blue Penguin Inn LLC in Fairfield and owns a restaurant “upstate” along with various real estate investments.
The state’s fiscal crisis and its impact on the local budget — the town stands to lose millions in state aid — have been a hot topic for all elected officials.
Married , one child
2195 North St.
Employment: KPMG 1986-1990; small business owner 1990 - present
Elected positions: Representative Town Meeting, 2007 - 2016; Board of Selectmen, 2016 present
“We must lobby to keep the state’s financial issues in Hartford,” Bateson said. “Hartford views Fairfield County as its personal ATM.”
He said that was evident when Gov. Dannel P. Malloy proposed having Fairfield pay $9 million into the state’s teacher pension plan. “We can’t let that happen,” he said. “State managed pension funds are just that — state managed, and, as such, a state-incurred liability cannot be allowed to be buried in local budgets.”
Bateson said Fairfield needs to “rethink” its revenue model and “chart our own destiny without relying on state reimbursement.”
The recently created Strategic Plan Committee, which was scheduled to hold its first meeting Thursday, could help with that.
“The Strategic Plan Committee will be developing a road map for Fairfield over the coming decades,” Bateson said. “Do we want to maintain the sleepover commuter image we have held for decades? Do we want a thriving and eclectic arts, business, residential and dining mecca in downtown?”
With Sacred Heart University’s purchase of the former General Electric corporate headquarters, Bateson said Fairfield continues to see education be the town’s dominant employer. One question, he said, is whether the town embraces this identity and builds Fairfield as a premier location for higher learning.
“I’m looking for this committee to provide a community vision for the future of Fairfield,” Bateson said.
As for attracting new business to town, Bateson said the Commerce Drive corridor holds the greatest potential for commercial development.
“We can also look to our universities to develop incubator programs for the development and retention for businesses,” Bateson said. “We have the workforce, we just need to keep services and the cost of those services reasonable and business-friendly.”
Fairfield has, in the past year or so, seemingly become a magnet for assisted-living facilities, and that is not necessarily a bad thing for Bateson.
“I think there is a growing demand for this service,” Bateson said. When his mother, a lifelong town resident, had a stroke in 2007, Bateson said they had to go to Stamford to find professional and affordable long-term care. “I see this service industry as beneficial to our community, with a low impact on residential services, job sourcing and it satisfies market demand.”