Board of Selectmen candidates Dubow and Saxe will run unopposed
On Election Day, Selectmen Dick Dubow (D) and Jim Saxe (R) will be uncontested in their run for re-election to the Board of Selectmen. The candidates’ presumptive re-election would ensure both men a four-year term extension.
First Selectman Bill Brennan is not up for re-election during this cycle, nor are Selectmen Hal Clark (R) or Ted Hoffstatter (D).
Mr. Dubow is a 35-year resident of town who put all seven of his children through Wilton public schools. His political life started on the Board of Education, and he also previously served two terms on the Board of Selectmen. He was also a Board of Finance chairman for the last year of his eight-year term on that board.
His biggest concern as a selectman, he said, is capital project organization.
“I think we need to devise a comprehensive capital plan that allows the town to maintain existing infrastructure,” he said, “get a better handle on capital expenditures, and manage the financial impact of those expenditures on debt service and the town’s operating budget. We’ve reached a point where we can no longer defer certain capital requirements.”
Describing a difference between what he calls short-term and long-term savings, Mr. Dubow said he wants to take a holistic approach to capital project management.
“We are addressing the problems,” he said, “but we need to continue to do that in a comprehensive way. Worst of all cases is a failure to maintain infrastructure in the name of cost savings, to find out that the false savings only increase future costs well beyond what they would have been up front.”
The work of the town’s new Economic Development Commission, he said, is another aspect of town government that he hopes to explore during the next term.
“I really want to see the work of the Economic Development Commission bear fruit,” Mr. Dubow said. “I want to improve our tax base, attract new business to town, and make it possible for businesses here to expand if they want to. It’s a slow and gradual process, and we are making progress.”
Mr. Dubow also stressed his desire to increase the capabilities of Wilton, and its surrounding towns, to share community services. This idea is contentious in the area, he said, but constitutes a good way to save many communities from providing everything by themselves.
“Regionalization is a difficult process. There are all kinds of problems with it, including in terms of labor unions,” he said. “Having said that, we must find ways to explore those options. We must break down traditional barriers associated with local control here in New England. That’s built into the culture, and I understand that, but I would like to see us at least try.”
Mr. Saxe and his wife are 14-year residents of Wilton, with one daughter in college and one in Wilton High School. He has worked as a regional account director for AT&T for 10 years, and is responsible for sales and marketing to multinational banking and manufacturing clients. He spent six years as a director of the Wilton Library Association, and has completed a full four-year term on the Board of Education. He is currently a Wilton selectman, and is seeking re-election to that post as a Republican.
“I want to thank the town and give back,” Mr. Saxe said. “My family has enjoyed the town, the schools, the community, and our friends. I’ve really enjoyed serving on all of the community boards.”
His knowledge of government budgets and construction planning — learned during former government posts and as a businessman, he said — qualifies him for re-election to the board.
“I’m a fiscal conservative,” Mr. Saxe said. “I’ve saved the town millions of dollars by controlling construction and education budgets without compromising the quality of our education. I have a thorough understanding of the town’s budgets and a track record of success in business and community services.”
For the past two years, he said, he has contributed to the town’s ability to maintain budget growth of less than 2%.
Stagnation in the growth of business in town, he said, is one problem he hopes to address thoroughly during the next term.
Now that the Economic Development Commission is almost prepared to present a plan to heat up the local business climate, Mr. Saxe considers the implementation of the plan to be a pressing need.
“It’s a matter of executing the plan,” he said. “From our experience, it takes about 18 months from the commissioning of the plan to see positive results. It takes six months to execute after 12 months of planning. We have to manage that and keep managing it.”
Energy conservation by the town, and by residents, is one of the selectmen’s important platforms, he said.
He supports the hiring of a town facilities manager, and wants to see the town make changes that were suggested by a recent energy audit.
“We are working with local communities to put some plans together for their reduction of energy consumption,” he said, “And we are talking to some firms about putting solar array panels on the town facilities.”
Improving the town’s energy consumption, he said, is both fiscally responsible and a great way to educate residents on the positive aspects of adding energy conservation measures to their own homes. Solar energy, for example, would save the town money and act as an educational tool.
“It would definitely save money over the course of a 20-year capital investment,” he said. “The savings would be significant over that course of time to offset electrical bills.” It is also a form of “citizen education that sets the example” for the town, he said.
Also of concern to Mr. Saxe is a capital projects plan.
“Another of our big challenges will be all of the big capital projects we have coming our way. There should be an effort to take a holistic, long-term view of these projects,” he said.
He also said that, though he is happy as a volunteer selectman, he will not count out a different position in the Wilton local government.
“I am open to all options,” he said. “I’m happy in my employment now, and happy volunteering, but who knows what the future holds.”
Both Mr. Dubow and Mr. Saxe said they are proponents of the proposed Yankee Gas plan, as it will save the town money and give citizens another option for providing energy to their homes.
“[The Yankee Gas plan is] very positive,” Mr. Saxe said. “Once it is in, it will save us $500,000 per year.”