When Wiltonians go to vote this November, they will see three Board of Finance candidates on the ballot \u2014 Republicans Walter Kress and Peter Balderston and Democrat John Kalamarides.Kress and Balderston will be replacing Al Alper, whose term ends Dec. 1, and Lynne Vanderslice, who is running for first selectman.Kalamarides, a current finance board member who replaced former Wiltonian James Meinhold following his resignation on May 31, 2014, is running for another term on the board. Walter Kress After being approached by \u201cseveral people\u201d in town, Kress said, he decided to consider running for a spot on the finance board. Even before he was nominated by the Republican Town Committee (RTC), Kress said, State Rep. Gail Lavielle (R-143) first approached him and asked if he would be \u201cwilling to serve in that role.\u201d \u201cThen others in town, who were aware as well, also approached me to get a serious consideration,\u201d said Kress, a managing director with J.P. Morgan and the chief operating officer for its retirement plan. Kress said he met with Board of Finance Chair Warren Serenbetz and other members of the board to get to know them more. After that meeting, he said, \u201cI felt very comfortable committing myself to that and then I received the nomination from the RTC.\u201d From New Jersey, Kress moved to Wilton with his wife in August 2010 and \u201cquickly engaged with the town,\u201d becoming a member of the Wilton Energy Commission. \u201cI had a lot to do with working with Bruce Hampson, who is chairman of that commission, on getting the natural gas pipe extension in and working with some of the financial analysis behind that,\u201d said Kress, who resigned from his position on the commission in January. As a member of the Board of Finance, Kress said, fiscal responsibility would be one of his top priorities. \u201cI\u2019d like to see the end result be arresting the rate of growth of our mill rate, and how to do that includes working closely with the Board of Education,\u201d he said. \u201cIt also includes working with the Board of Selectmen, but I mention the Board of Education first because it\u2019s the larger piece of the operating budget of the town.\u201d Kress aid he would also like to look for areas where \u201cperhaps there are shared services between the two\u201d boards. \u201cI know that\u2019s already underway and some progress has been made there, but where they\u2019re assessing shared services between the town and the school, continuing to serve both effectively is one area where I\u2019d like to look for opportunities,\u201d he said. The capital budget is another area that Kress said he would like to focus on as a finance board member. \u201cEverybody focuses on mill rate and the operating budget, and it\u2019s equally as important to look at the capital budget long term \u2014 what is coming down the road and how that might impact the operating budget,\u201d he said. Kress, who considers himself a thoughtful and responsible person with \u201ca lot of pride in the town,\u201d said communication would be another focus area. \u201cI\u2019m keen on communication. You know, I can find out about these budgets by digging around a little bit, but I don\u2019t think the average Wiltonian really understands the process of the budget,\u201d he said. \u201cI think very few people understand the long term capital plan and how that impacts not only the capital budget, but bleeds back into the operating budget, so I\u2019d like to work on that \u2014 I\u2019d like to see more and frequent communication surrounding that.\u201d Kress said he would also like to \u201cat some point, think about working with other towns\u201d to look for \u201copportunities where there might be shared services even beyond the borders of Wilton.\u201d \u201cSomewhere out there, there are some services that we all have to go through, and it might be interesting to look at where those can be combined for better pricing for the benefit of towns beyond our border,\u201d he said, \u201cbut the initial focus will be on Wilton.\u201d As for the upcoming election, Kress said, it\u2019s \u201ckind of a strange\u201d one. \u201cPeople say, \u2018You\u2019re running for election,\u2019 and I say, \u2018Well, I\u2019m kind of walking for election, because we\u2019re unopposed,\u2019 but I\u2019m hoping that we do see good count on the votes,\u201d he said. \u201cQuite honestly, I\u2019m more concerned about voter turnout than people voting for me specifically, which sounds quite strange coming from somebody who should be a candidate \u2014 I have a hard time thinking of myself as a candidate, per se.\u201d Nonetheless, Kress said people should vote for him because he has \u201c30 years worth of financial and investing experience and analysis of complex organizations.\u201d Although he doesn\u2019t have a huge team in his current role, Kress said, he has \u201cled significant organizations\u201d with more than 200 people in previous ones. Peter Balderston A Wilton resident of 23 years, Balderston said he feels \u201cstrongly about giving back to the community and being involved in the community,\u201d which is why he decided to consider the finance board position. With 20 years of finance, operational and funds management experience, Balderston said the finance board position is \u201can important role\u201d that suits his background. \u201cI have a strong orientation towards finance and numbers, and I thought I would be most useful in the role,\u201d said Balderston, a portfolio manager and adviser at Falcon Capital Management in Wilton. As a finance board member, Balderston said, he would like to address taxes. \u201cOne of biggest issues I think our town faces is that we have an issue with respect to taxes on real estate,\u201d he said, \u201cand in the face of that, we have a projected declining enrollment in the schools.\u201d Managing through that projected decline in enrollment, Balderston said, is going to pose a challenge for the Boards of Education and Finance. \u201cIf you talk to Realtors in town, and pretty much anyone, they have real concerns about the rate of growth in our taxes over the last 10 or 15 years, and that will be exacerbated in the reduction in enrollment,\u201d he said. \u201cWe have to be very mindful of how we manage those changes so that we\u2019re not further burdening our homes with additional taxes.\u201d When it comes to finances, Balderston said, \u201cthe devil is in the details,\u201d which is something he enjoys looking into. \u201cI\u2019d like to dig into the details regarding our finances because I think we\u2019re going to have to be very creative in terms of how we cut costs without impairing the excellence in our school system,\u201d he said. \u201cI think it can be done, and it\u2019s a matter of looking deeply into the numbers \u2014 looking at how we square up against our peers in the surrounding towns and where there might be opportunities for cost-sharing where we could reduce costs without impacting services at all.\u201d The Board of Finance would be the first time Balderston has served on a town board, commission or committee, and he said is confident that he will do a good job. \u201cI\u2019ll certainly bring a thoroughness that I think is necessary to be on the board,\u201d said Balderston, who considers himself a thorough, well-rounded person with broad interests. \u201cThere\u2019s always a conflict between wanting to have great schools and town services, but also being fiscally responsible. That's going to be a conflict that just is part of the Board of Finance role,\u201d he said. \u201cI think I can run in between those two conflicting goals in a way that brings to the table a measured approach to things, and I think I can do a pretty good job of managing through that challenging conflict.\u201d Balderston said voter turnout and engagement also concern him. \u201cI don\u2019t think in the last four years we\u2019ve ever reached the threshold of 15% that\u2019s required by the town charter to accept a vote, and that troubles me,\u201d he said. \u201cThe message I would try to make to voters is to try to be as engaged as possible because it\u2019s very easy to be critical of something, but if you\u2019re not voting, you\u2019re not sending a loud and clear message.\u201d Balderston said participation is not only crucial to the voting process, but in helping members of the finance board. \u201cI think we\u2019re going to go through some challenging times in the next couple of years,\u201d he said, \u201cand having that kind of feedback and input from the voters is a very important ingredient in making appropriate decisions on the Board of Finance.\u201d John Kalamarides Kalamarides has lived in Wilton since 1982 and is a certified financial planner and vice president of wealth management at Source Capital Group in Westport. He also chaired the Wilton Democratic Town Committee (DTC) for six years before resigning in 2013, and is currently an officer of the Wilton Kiwanis and member of the Our Lady of Fatima Church Finance Council. When former finance board member Meinhold announced his resignation from the board in May of last year, the DTC\u2019s nominating committee recommended Kalamarides to serve the remaining year of Meinhold\u2019s term. At the time that he joined the finance board, Kalamarides had 16 years of working in development in higher education and non-profits, as well as 30 years in financial services. Kalamarides said his experience on the Board of Finance has been \u201crewarding.\u201d \u201cIt has been interesting and enjoyable to work with my fellow board members. It was revealing at first how much there was to town government and to monitoring the school budget. It is complex,\u201d he said. \u201cDuring the budget preparation season, I gained a greater appreciation of all the work that went into preparing the town budget. I attended all the department presentations to the first selectman \u2014 this allowed me to get deep into each budget request.\u201d During a visit to the town garage and the fire department, Kalamarides said, he saw first-hand what each was requesting for the capital budget. \u201cI attended a statewide conference with other financial officials on how to prepare a town budget and learned that Wilton\u2019s method was just fine,\u201d he added. \u201cI also served at the Board of Finance representative on the Miller-Driscoll Building Committee and the Town of Wilton Pension Committee \u2014 both assignments I felt honored to serve on, attended all the meetings, and offered my thoughts when appropriate.\u201d Kalamarides said his role on the board has also allowed him to better know Wilton\u2019s town and school employees, who he found to be \u201cintelligent, skilled and dedicated individuals.\u201d In his upcoming term, Kalamarides said he would \u201clike Wilton to be able to maintain and improve its fine school system and still provide all the town services\u201d Wiltonians expect, while keeping any tax increases very minimal. \u201cThese next few years are going to be financially challenging for our town,\u201d said Kalamarides. \u201cHow we maintain a balance between what our residents expect and what they can afford is going to take some new ideas, some real diligence and some hard work by the Board of Finance.\u201d Kalamarides said \u201ca spirit of cooperation and civility on our board and by all with whom we talk\u201d will be needed. \u201cWe will also want to encourage some cross-pollination of ideas between the town, the school district, and all the boards,\u201d he said. \u201cThere are no quick fixes to the issues that have arisen this year. We need a reasoned approach to a solution.\u201d While the finance board \u201ccannot do a lot about expanding the grand list,\u201d Kalamarides said, \u201cI think we need to discuss ways that we can encourage business and corporations, as well as new residents to move to Wilton.\u201d \u201cInterestingly, as we consider holding down any future tax increases, I am interested in making Wilton a more attractive place for residents,\u201d said Kalamarides. \u201cWe need more opportunities for recreation. I see a much greater role going forward for Parks and Recreation. We need more fields, tennis courts and playgrounds spread around the town. We may need an ice rink. We need to think about how to make Wilton Center the go-to place for residents, which would incent businesses to locate there.\u201d At the same time, Kalamarides said, he believes the town needs to \u201cbe sure that any new donated turf fields have an endowment to maintain them\u201d because \u201cour present turf fields will soon need some renovation, yet there is no sinking fund or money set aside for this work,\u201d he said. Kalamarides said the board needs to also think about how to keep senior citizens in town. \u201cAgain, what the Board of Finance can do may be limited, but it should be on our members\u2019 minds,\u201d he said.