Candidate for First Selectman
Q. Why did you decide to run for office in 2021 and again in 2023?
A. My decision to run for First Selectwoman in 2021 was prompted by overwhelming resident concerns that the progress of several town projects was stalled and critical responsibilities were not being met. As your Selectman, I have made some impact on a few of these issues. But we still have a long way to go. I believe that residents deserve a leader who will listen to their concerns, create strong fiscal budgets and bring consensus among groups who are working on the same projects. My skill-set and prior experience will enable me to address these challenges. I know that I can make further improvements to project planning and budget preparation.
Q. What accomplishments from your first term are you most proud of?
A. There are many things I am proud of, one being how hard I have worked to create a more bipartisan working environment on the Board of Selectman and other areas of town government. There were obviously many issues that Tim, Matt and I didn’t agree on but I strived to make sure we were each not only listening to each other, but took the time to think about and consider each other's opinions. Matt and I were able to step up together and work very cohesively when there was an employee gap in the First Selectman’s office and co-chaired the Shoreline Gateway Committee together. I think that the future of our town depends on our ability to bridge political divides and work together at every level.
During my term I was responsive to town issues and worked to offer thoughtful solutions. I worked on developing a town process for hiring an Human Resources consultant and revising the employee handbook. I communicated with our state senator, Martha Marx, to begin the process for receiving a $12 Million grant for our HVAC upgrades in our school renovation projects and $500,000 for the Lyme’s Senior Center renovation and expansion.
Thanks to my experience as a Teacher’s Union President, I was able to effectively resolve grievances with Town employees. And I understand that problems that seem small in the “big town picture” can be a huge concern to individual residents who reach out. I have strived to not only listen to resident’s concerns, but act swiftly to respond to them.
Q. What have you learned while serving on the Board of Selectman the past two years?
A. When I joined the Board of Selectman in 2021 I realized how important it is to have at least one returning member each term. There are so many ongoing projects in our little town and I firmly believe that transition would have been much more challenging without some continuity on the Board. I therefore think it is vitally important to elect a candidate who has served before and is intimately familiar with the current status of the ongoing projects. Without some degree of continuity we face additional cost and time delays while an entirely new team gets brought up to speed.
During my time serving on the Board of Selectman I have also learned how the Board interacts with the various other boards and commissions in our town. This work is critical for the planning and funding of projects all over town. One of my first positions was as an ex-officio member on the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) Committee, where we made recommendations for the distribution of $1 million in ARPA funding. As a part of this committee I was instrumental in finding a consultant who helped us distribute $300K in economic recovery grants for our local businesses. In order to make sure that money was properly spent, I worked with the town attorneys on the legal agreements for our non profits and town departments that received this valuable funding.
Q. What do you plan to accomplish next as First Selectwoman?
A. As first selectwoman I would like to meet with public safety departments, Police, EMS, and Public Works to determine if their department and staffing needs are currently being met and how we can help fill in any shortages. I would also meet with department heads to begin a more transparent discussion about their needs and how town departments can work together more efficiently & effectively.
I plan to work with our Finance Director to begin planning for Budget Season and work to streamline the budget prep & review process. I would ask all department heads to be present at Board of Finance meetings when their budget is under review. This saves valuable time and allows the Board of Finance to work in a more effective and timely manner.
I will be prioritizing reactivating the Flood & Erosion Control Board which has been inactive since 2018. Our town has seen an increase in flooding issues this year and we need to be proactively planning for the changes that climate changes are bestowing upon us. I would have the Town Engineer provide us with possible solutions for the extensive Cross Lane trestle flooding that we have seen several times this year, and have our storm water systems evaluated to make sure they are capable of providing us with effective measures for increasing amounts of rainfall.
I will create and utilize a more effective way to inform the public about the available openings on town boards and committees. We have so many residents with experience in specific fields that would benefit our town greatly. I hope we can reach more non-partisan residences that would like to participate in town government.
As First Selectwoman I plan to be responsive and communicative to the residents of this town. And I plan to work in a bipartisan manner on all projects and will encourage board and commissions to do the same.