Op-ed / Why to vote for Democrats
I am chairman of the Fairfield Democratic Town Committee. I urge voters to reject the extremist views of Republicans on the Representative Town Meeting and vote for Democrats in your districts. Republicans hold a slight majority on the RTM, our legislative body. A Democrat majority is vital for balanced, responsible leadership of this all-important government body. Fire the Republicans and hire the Democrats. Republicans are propagating falsehoods in this campaign and have demonstrated extremism that Fairfield can ill afford.
Here is why:
Republican falsehood No. 1: Republicans say Democrats proposed a 6.4 percent tax increase this year, and Republicans reduced that to about 2 percent. No democrats were or are in favor of a 6.4 percent increase. First Selectman Tetreau went to work to bring that number down before the Board of Finance received the budget and again before it reached the RTM. This flies in the face of Republican claims that "pressure from the Republicans" brought your 2014 taxes down.
Democrats on the RTM will always be truthful with the citizens of Fairfield and will continue to do the hard work in reducing taxes.
Republican falsehood No. 2: Republicans say Democrats have raised taxes for the past 14 years. In fact, Republican majorities have had the final say on our taxes for many years. The RTM finalizes the budget. The Board of Finance sets the mill rate. Republicans will remain a majority on the Board of Finance after this year's election. If Republican Town Committee Chairman Jamie Millington really believes in the checks and balances he has espoused, then he should support Democrats for the RTM. Their sign says: "Stop raising taxes, vote Republican." Is that a bad joke? They have been in control of your taxes for years.
Democrats, in contrast, won't make false promises -- the R's sound like Bush's promise of "no new taxes." Fake and phony. Democrats will work to reduce tax increases and bring labor contracts and debt service under control.
Republican falsehood No. 3: Republicans are fond of saying Democrats like to tax and spend. Rubbish! No one wants to raise taxes and overspend. In fact, through Democratic leadership, Fairfield's property taxes per capita and expenditure per pupil are lower than those of Greenwich and Westport. We believe Fairfield is special because of the services we provide. Our downtown is the envy of our neighbors, as are our beaches. People move to Fairfield for our schools. Student population increased by 1,700 students over the past 19 years. Our property values remain high because of our school system. If you are looking to the equity in your home for retirement, investment in the schools should be your priority.
Republican falsehood No. 4: Republicans on the RTM claim they voted to cut the education budget "because of identified savings to health insurance and retirements." Not true! They resulted in cutting programs our students need. RTM Democrats voted "no" to Republican cuts in student programs. There are Republican RTM members who may believe in education, but actions speak louder than words. Collectively, Republicans this term have embraced extreme views: World language is cut; music is cut; library hours in schools are cut; high school athletics are cut; a special ed program is cut; students pay for sports and parking spaces.
Vote Democrat to reverse course -- not the course of continued cuts to students programs, which will make our schools second rate. (Then, watch your property values go down.)
Sadly further, Republican leadership has shown disrespect for the law and bad government.
The Republican RTM violated the Town Charter and state law to force through their unbalanced voter redistricting plan this year. When they discovered the map they voted for had illegalities, several Republican leaders, including GOP Registrar of Voters Roger Autuori, tried to change the map behind closed doors after the RTM vote. Sleazy politics. Democrats will provide you with honest, transparent government on the RTM.
This month, Mr. Autuori physically attacked his Democrat counterpart. I called for Mr. Autuori's resignation. My counterpart, Mr. Millington, did not. Democrats reject violence in the workplace. No exceptions. (Autuori admitted he struck him).
District 1 Republican RTM candidates produced a campaign video using newspaper photos and may have broken intellectual property laws. They claim it was only a farce. Well said.
You've seen Republican "stop" signs all over town. Those signs violate a state statute against imitating a traffic sign -- and police had to get involved. Democrats just don't embrace that type of arrogance for the law.
Vote for good schools and reduced taxes. Protect senior tax relief and an improved senior center. Vote Democrat.
Vote Catherine Albin for Board of Finance. She has demonstrated that she is the fiscally conservative Democrat running and deserves your vote. She is smart, prepared and respected by her peers.
Democrats also have excellent candidates for the zoning boards. I hope you get to know them and vote for them.
If you desire your elected officials to reflect honesty and hard work, vote for Democrats for the RTM. Democrat majority would restore balanced, responsible leadership to Fairfield. Reject extremism. And yes, save our schools.
Ellery Plotkin is the chairman of the Democratic Town Committee.