Selectman Ted Hoffstatter will ‘stay involved’

Selectman Ted Hoffstatter left his position with a heavy heart on Monday, telling his fellow board members it was a great “privilege and honor” to serve with them.

After seven years of service to the town, the scheduling of one of his final graduate level classes forced him to step down from the Board of Selectmen at its meeting on Dec. 15.

His time on the board was one that was marked by collaborative efforts, Mr. Hoffstatter said during an interview at his home last week.

“I’ve thoroughly enjoyed serving the past seven years. I enjoyed the fact that in watching a meeting, a person wouldn’t know which political party they are watching. We’ve always been more issue-oriented than partisan-oriented,” he said.

Though there may have been brief moments of argument, the former selectman said, he is proud of the way the board is often able to come to a consensus.

“My job as a board member was always to work together with the board as a team to serve the constituents of the town,” he said. “If I’m hearing from voters at large they disagree with the board, of course it’s necessary to voice that if it doesn’t go along with my colleagues. But there is a positive and amicable way to speak against someone so that you don’t cause bad blood between board members.

“It doesn’t need to be nasty.”

Referencing childhood experiences going door to door with his mother, Republican Town Committee chairwoman Judy Hoffstatter, Mr. Hoffstatter said the “grassroots” feel of politics in town is what he will miss the most.

“I can be with my kids in the Village Market, and someone can come up and ask a question about land use, or taxes, and I can do my best to answer, or do my homework and find out for them. Having a direct connection with the people of this town is something I really appreciate,” he said.

Of the many challenges that face Wilton today, Mr. Hoffstatter said, the most difficult task for the Board of Selectmen is helping the town “hold on to its middle-class roots.”

“If we want this town to hold on to its middle-class roots and values, we can’t spend an unlimited amount of money. That’s the biggest challenge the boards face — fiscally sustainable budgets. We’re trying to hold spending down, but if you look at the way taxes have been going up, we are going to price people out of this town,” he said.

Making fiscal sustainability difficult, he said, are quickly expanding capital projects.

“Our capital projects are well-meaning, but the size and scope of the projects tend to grow. It starts when we look at the statement of requirements and the price tag rises to a level beyond what most voters find acceptable.

“It’s up to our boards coming back to the building committee and saying, ‘This is what we are looking to spend.’ It’s not a vindictive or a mean thing.”

The class forcing Mr. Hoffstatter to step down from his role as selectman is part of his studies to become a school guidance counselor. He is already a state-certified social studies teacher, but wants to have a more direct role in children’s future than he has as a teacher.

“I really want to work with kids from a counseling perspective. Overall personal growth is the most important thing for me,” Mr. Hoffstatter said.

“The class I have to take to finish this year is only offered on Monday nights. We have budget season coming up, and I can’t take six months of not being at a meeting and not serving the town. It just didn’t work out.”

Nonetheless, Mr. Hoffstatter will remain active in statewide politics, and hopes to remain active at the local level as well.

“I don’t feel like I have to just stop,” he said. “I’ll continue to be involved in some way. I would love to run for office again in some capacity when the time is right for me and my family.”