Four in race for two selectman seats
It’s not a contest for the town’s top elected office, but the race for selectman is one of the most contentious for Nov. 7, pitting four candidates against one another for two seats available.
Two of the candidates are political haymakers, former GOP chairman Al Alper, who is running on a petition, and Democratic Town Committee Chairman Deborah McFadden, who, unlike Alper, has her party’s endorsement.
Joshua S. Cole and Lori Bufano, a Republican incumbent on the Board of Selectmen, round out the mix. They have received the endorsement of First Selectman Lynne Vanderslice. Her letter of support appears in this issue.
The four are chasing after the most votes from an electorate of 12,454 voters, including 4,717 unaffiliated, the majority, 4,177 Republicans, and 3,478 Democrats.
The Bulletin asked the candidates to discuss top issues and qualifications.
McFadden has received the endorsement of U.S. Rep Jim Himes, who said “Having known Deb for many years, I have no doubt that she has the vision and expertise to lead the Town of Wilton as selectman. She will be a tireless advocate for residents and i am proud to support her.”
McFadden said her top three issues are:
- Fiscal responsibility, economic development and updating the Plan of Conservation and Development, executed with sensitivity toward preserving open spaces and historic preservation and growing the grand list.
- Quality of life for all citizens, with emphasis on first-rate schools and support of senior citizens.
- Open and transparent government. Encouraging communication with the public and between town boards and committees, to benefit from the best ideas and work in a united effort.
“My commitment to Wilton and our community values coupled with experience and skills will allow me to contribute immediately to this town I love,” she said. “I want to return to the Board of Selectmen so the voices of all of the citizens of Wilton — no matter what their political affiliation or personal background — are heard. We need to engage community-wide dialogue and collaborative action so, together, we shape the future of Wilton. ”
Republican candidate Joshua Cole listed his top three issues:
- Grand list growth through responsible development.
- Attaining and retaining new businesses.
- Continuing to promote accountability and access to government to ensure that the voices of all residents are heard on important town issues.
“Many people in town have young children, but that population segment is underrepresented on the Board of Selectmen. That said, I also have older relatives in town and can see the difficulties facing our aging population,” Cole said.
“However, my candidacy is not just about demographics. No candidate should be elected solely based upon demographics or party. I believe these two diverse populations, and all our residents in between, need solutions — solutions for our vacant properties, our tax base, and for smart planning.
How do we find these solutions and make them work for us? All the ideas in the world will not make a difference if the members of the board, the public, and people interested in contributing to our town do not work together. As an attorney handling large-scale financial and real estate transactions, I work with all personalities to solve problems and bring people to agreement. I believe it is time for a different perspective, a new perspective. I believe the citizens of Wilton have spoken and want to hear a new voice on the Board of Selectmen. I am that new voice and will work hard with the other members of the board for all residents.”
The Republicans’ other endorsed candidate, Lori Bufano, already sits on the Board of Selectmen as an appointed member.
Her top three issues are:
- Fiscal responsibility: Board of Selectmen under budget for FY 16. Fiscal year 2017 budget trending lower than 2016. Costs must be managed through review of open positions, standardization and purchasing policies.
- Economic development: Growth must be balanced by the thoughts of our residents. Increasing pressure from the state makes growth a key priority. The Plan of Conservation and Development is extremely important as developer interest increases.
- Transparency: Continue to support transparency in town business by listening to feedback and providing appropriate FOIA training to all boards and commissions.
“ I am happy to be serving the town where I was raised and working to assure that future generations will enjoy the same wonderful experience that I had,” she said. “I truly believe that Wilton’s best years are ahead and would be honored to continue as part of the leadership team.
“Prior to joining the Board of Selectmen, I served nearly 10 years as an elected member of the Zoning Board of Appeals and Planning and Zoning Commission. My experience on these land-use boards has been extremely valuable to my current position. Great accomplishments have been made during my tenure by working collaboratively with my fellow members. I bring a different perspective to the Board of Selectmen with more than 30 years of experience in health care supply chain logistics. A large portion of my career has been spent being employed by a Fortune 500 company, Cardinal Health. I am also experienced with emergency management and Six Sigma programs. I am seeking election to a second term to continue the important work started by our current administration and to serve the citizens of Wilton.”
When his party failed to endorse him, Al Alper chose to petition his way onto the ballot. His top three priorities are:
- Ensuring forgotten citizens have a strong voice, such as seniors, and families finding the burdens of taxes and the economy stifling.
- Streamlining government to drive more efficiency and lower taxes.
- Making Wilton a destination for business and families.
“I have the longest tenure of public service experience of any candidate, and the most diverse of all of them as well. With a public service background in finance and land use I will bring that same strong, fiscally conservative voice to Board of Selectmen that I lent to the Board of Finance for eight years and to Planning & Zoning, Zoning Board of Appeals and the Southwest Regional Planning Agency. My tenure as town committee chair also gives me the unique perspective of knowing virtually every member of every board or commission. I have built lasting relationships that bridge divides and deliver consensus-driven results.
As a 30-year entrepreneur, the successes I have enjoyed demonstrate an ability to identify opportunities and deliver results, doing so in a fiscally conservative, financially responsible way. This experience and these results are something Wilton’s government needs, and Wiltonians want by way of greater efficiency and lower taxes.”