Wilton Board of Selectmen candidate: Joshua Cole
As the father of two young daughters under the age of 8, Joshua Cole would like to continue serving on the Board of Selectmen as a representative of parents with young families. “That population segment is underrepresented on the board,” he said.
A Republican, Cole, 43, was appointed to the Board of Selectmen in July 2018 to fill a vacancy due to the resignation of attorney Michael Kaelin. He is now running for his own term.
An attorney with the law firm Pullman & Comley, Cole specializes in real estate and commercial finance.
He has lived in Wilton for 11 years. “I moved to town before having kids,” he said.
Board of Selectmen candidate
Current job: Attorney - Pullman & Comley, LLC
Education: Sacred Heart University (1998); Juris Doctor - Syracuse University College of Law (2002)
The most important issue in this election: Taxes - I will continue to work with the First Selectwoman and the other members of the Board of Selectmen to ensure that we continue to deliver responsible and efficient budgets. I will continue to support ways in which we can further reduce town expenses through shared services and consolidation of services where appropriate.
Other issues: Development - I will continue to support and encourage responsible development in areas and with projects that are consistent with and respect the rural nature and asthetic beauty of our Town. Growth of the Town's Grand List is necessary and essential to reduce the real estate tax burden on our residents.
Family: Married for 11 years to Melissa-Jean Rotini, a current member of the Planning & Zoning Commission and a candidate for election to the Planning & Zoning Commission in the November 2019 municipal election. Two daughters ages 4 (a kindergarten student at Miller-Driscoll School) and 7 (a second-grade student at Miller-Driscoll School).
Previous elected offices, community group affiliations: Board of Selectmen (currently serving - appointed by Board of Selectmen in July 2018 to fill a vacancy for an unexpired term ending Nov. 30, 2019)
Zoning Board of Appeals (appointed by Board of Selectmen in October 2014 to fill a vacancy for an unexpired term ending November 30, 2015; elected in November 2015 municipal election to a new four year term expiring November 30, 2019 - resigned effective July 31, 2018 when appointed to the Board of Selectmen)
Wilton Chamber of Commerce (member of Board of Directors - September 2018 - Present)
Wilton Republican Town Committee (January 2015 - Present)
Campaign website: Facebook page: @ColeforWilton
Cole and his wife Melissa-Jean Rotini, a member of the Planning and Zoning Commission, have two daughters, Veronica, 4, and Giovanna, 7. Both girls attend Miller-Driscoll School.
He went to high school in Red Hook, N.Y., where he played football and basketball, ran track, and was on the weight-lifting team.
He then attended Sacred Heart University, where he majored in political science. As a member of the college’s debate team, he competed in the 26th annual World Debating Championship at University College in Cork, Ireland.
His next stop was law school at Syracuse University, where he was the form and accuracy editor of the National Italian American Bar Association Law Journal.
Before serving on Wilton’s Board of Selectmen, Cole was chairman of the Zoning Board of Appeals.
He now sits on the board of directors of the Wilton Chamber of Commerce, and was appointed by the Board of Selectmen to serve on a subcommittee in 2016 to select the town’s new counsel, hiring Ira Bloom of Berchem Moses.
Cole has been a member of the Republican Town Committee since 2015, and is a member of Our Lady of Fatima. He has volunteered at the annual Townwide Cleanup Day, annual street fair, Kiwanis Oktoberfest, and Ambler Farm Day.
In 2018, he was a delegate for the Republican state convention.
“I’ve always been interested in serving the town and giving back to the community,” he said.
“I believe the town is well run and Lynne [Vanderslice, first selectwoman] has done a great job in the past four years. The town is on good financial footing,” he said.
One of his goals is to make Wilton more affordable for families. “I have young kids in the schools and other board members do not. It’s an underrepresented demographic,” he said.
Cole brings his legal background and skill set as an attorney to the board. “I work with other people to bring consensus between parties,” he said.
His background as a real estate attorney is especially helpful he said, for reviewing town-owned properties and how to best utilize them.
The top three issues in Wilton he is paying attention to are taxes, development, and amenities.
“I attended Planning and Zoning meetings when they were updating the plan of development, and future development and town amenities came up at those meetings. They were on people’s minds,” he said.
As far as taxes go, he said he will continue to work on delivering lean and efficient budgets with “minimal tax increases.”
He also wants to continue to explore ways to cut expenses and consolidate services. “Some things are contractual, such as salaries and health insurance, but we can look at ways to cut expenses and consolidate services,” he said.
As a positive example of consolidating services, he cited the Board of Selectmen’s work on the Virtual Net Metering partnership Wilton entered into with the town of Weston. “Once fully implemented, it will significantly reduce the town’s utility expenses,” he said.
Regarding development, Cole said he supports “responsible development” to grow the grand list but still “protect the history and quality of the town” that brought people to Wilton.
He also supports the Architectural Review Board to ensure development is done in a responsible manner. “It’s important to preserve the historic qualities of the town,” he said.
As for amenities, he said people want things in town such as dog parks, more open space, and more walking trails. “I would like to explore private/public partnerships to bring some of these amenities to town,” he said.
But he notes that while people may want these things, they aren’t necessarily willing to pay higher taxes for them. “You have to be careful on projects that will cost money. You need to be creative to bring things in that won’t result in higher taxes,” he said.
He was very concerned about the last state legislative session when a bill was proposed that would force regionalization of schools. “The board needs to be vigilant of state proposals to make sure the community is aware of them. Part of leadership is to prepare for the unexpected,” he said.