The Race for First Selectman: Lynne Vanderslice

Following 20 years of active involvement in the Wilton community, during which she’s acquired a “deep knowledge” of various aspects of the town, Republican Lynne Vanderslice has decided to run for first selectman because, she said, “I think I can make a difference.”
Vanderslice, a Wilton resident of 28 years, not only has financial experience as a former certified public accountant (CPA) with PriceWaterhouseCoopers but also has relevant management experience from her 12 years as corporate controller for Coca-Cola Bottling Co. of New York Inc., where she managed a department of 150 people, “which is the same size as the town staff,” she noted.
“I have unique financial skills as a CPA, and with the biggest issue in town being property taxes and them being too high,” she said, “I think that particular set of skills would be very helpful in addressing that situation.”

Community involvement

Vanderslice has been active in local organizations, including 15 years with A Better Chance of Wilton, during which she was vice president for four years, president for two, and was chair of its capital campaign to raise funds for its second house.
Her involvement in town didn’t stop there — Vanderslice, who is currently the vice chair of the Board of Finance, also served as development chair of the Wilton Library Association board, member of the Collective Bargaining Negotiations Team-Teacher Contracts, and treasurer of the Wilton Playshop.
Vanderslice said Wiltonians should vote for her because she has a “proven track record of working collaboratively” and “accomplishing things in Wilton.”
“I ask a lot of questions, I listen carefully to the answers and I have a lot of ideas about how I think we can reduce costs, about how we can stimulate economic development, and how I think we can do things to improve the town,” she said, adding that the first selectman is going to inherit a town that is “very fiscally strong” and needs to make sure Wilton not only maintains that fiscal strength but also improves.
“We’re fortunate that we’re in really good shape,” said Vanderslice. “The question is, ‘Where are we going for the future?’” As first selectman, Vanderslice said, taxes would be the first area she addresses.
“As a member of the Board of Finance, I’ve not only demonstrated my financial skills but I’ve demonstrated my commitment to keeping taxes down,” she said.
“In order to address the tax burden, you have to look at reducing costs, managing debt and increasing revenues.”

Sharing resources

Vanderslice believes there are opportunities to “share some resources with the Board of Education,” which she has identified and will pursue, she said — “and I’ll do the same thing with the towns, because I think that there are ways that it can be done.”
She has also been looking into what other Connecticut towns — and even municipalities outside the state — are doing in terms of sharing resources.
“Redding and Weston and Ridgefield all have the same issue as us — a high mill rate,” said Vanderslice, “so I would hope they would be as incentivized as I am to work together so that we can collectively reduce our costs.”

Wilton Center

Vanderslice said economic development is going to be “the biggest impact on revenue” and Wilton Center needs to be made into a destination that’s not just supported by the town’s residents — “we have to have other residents come into Wilton Center.
“That means we need better signage so they know where it’s located; it means we need a website and other means of marketing Wilton Center to people,” she said, “and it means we need to have the right kind of retail shopping in Wilton Center to attract people.”
As first selectman, Vanderslice said, she would like to make Schenck’s Island more accessible and visible in order to attract people, including Wilton’s own residents.
“I think Schenck’s Island is underutilized because you can’t see it, so I would like to open up access and the view to Schenck’s Island [and] put a footbridge coming from town,” said Vanderslice, who also proposed opening up the view of the river.
Vanderslice said First Selectman Bill Brennan has “done some great things” in Wilton Center, and her ideas for Schenck’s Island would expand on his efforts to make Wilton more attractive and enhance its “New England charm.”


Keeping businesses in town would also be on Vanderslice's list of priorities as first selectman.
“The lower Route 7 corridor is an attractive location for national corporations and we’ve done a good job there, but we need to be responsive to changes that are happening,” said Vanderslice, who believes it’s important for a first selectman to talk to business owners.
“I’ve talked about having listening lunches with the business owners and commercial property owners,” she said. “I think that’s a good way for us to keep that dialogue going.”


The town’s senior citizen population is another area of concern for Vanderslice, who believes it’s “really important that we do things to encourage people to stay in Wilton.”
“A lot of people leave Wilton as soon as their last child graduates from school. We have to be more [than] a place that attracts people because of the schools, because if that’s all that we are, people are going to leave after their children leave the schools,” she said.
“A lot of the things in economic development that need to be done, as well as reducing the tax burden, are about trying to keep everybody here. I don’t want to lose Wilton seniors.”
Not only are senior citizens “valuable volunteers,” but they’re also “important to the community,” said Vanderslice, who supports providing tax relief to seniors.
“In 2009, there was a committee that put forward recommendations, all of which were not adopted, so I think we need to go back and reopen that document and take a look at it again,” she said. “Some of the things that we’ve adopted aren’t that well used, so we have to re-think all of that.”
Vanderslice said she would like to form a seniors affairs subcommittee to “centralize” all town offerings for seniors and “serve as an advocacy group for seniors and senior-related issues.”

Public-private partnerships

Vanderslice believes public-private partnerships are “the right way to add amenities to this community,” and as for Middlebrook’s field, she said, she is thrilled that parents are willing to come forward and fund it.
While it’s important that “we make sure that it’s the right field,” she said, “the concept of residents paying for that field, I think, is the right concept.”
“There’s been a lot of public-private partnerships in town. The teen center is one example — the town provided the land and all the money was fund-raised — and I think that’s the model that we need to use to go forward to improve our amenities,” said Vanderslice, who has experience with such partnerships.
In the late 1990s, she started her own nonprofit called the Student Outreach Program Inc., which addressed the academic needs of Danbury students living in low- and moderate-income housing projects.
“I provided free summer school, free after-school programs and a free camp,” said Vanderslice, “so I know how to use private money to get things done.”
As first selectman, Vanderslice said, she would help facilitate public- private partnerships in town.

Deborah McFadden

Vanderslice said there are some key differences between her and Democratic opponent, Deborah McFadden — one being her experience in Wilton.
“I have a lot of Wilton-based experience and I haven’t heard from her that she has a lot of Wilton-based experience,” said Vanderslice, who has been on the Board of Finance for seven years.
“She has been on the Board of Selectmen since January, so I think I have a lot more experience in town government,” she said, “and as I’ve noted, I have the financial and management skills, which I don’t think she has.”
At their joint candidate events, Vanderslice said, McFadden has “talked about six years of experience in Salt Lake City … in the public affairs office of the mayor, but otherwise, she hasn’t discussed what she’s done for the last 30 years.”
One thing Vanderslice said she does know about her opponent — from McFadden’s spoken views at town meetings, public hearings and various referendums — is that she “tends to speak in support of the budgets that have been submitted … suggesting that cuts not be made.”
“I, as a Board of Finance member — other than this last budget where we let it go through as it was — I’ve always voted for cuts,” said Vanderslice.


During her time in Wilton, Vanderslice said, she has been nonpartisan.
“I’ve been endorsed by the people who worked with me the longest and know me best, and if you look through the list of people, you’re going to see Republicans, Democrats and unaffiliated voters,” she said.
“What I think is really striking is that the six people on the Board of Finance who have worked with me the longest have all endorsed me, and that includes Andy Pforzheimer and Jim Meinhold — the two most recent Democratic members to leave that board.”
In a community like Wilton, where the largest number of voters are unaffiliated, Vanderslice said, she believes “it’s really important that the first selectman be somebody who has demonstrated that they have the support of people across the spectrum and not just within the party that they’re running on.”
Vanderslice has been endorsed by:

  • Warren Serenbetz, Republican Board of Finance chair.

  • Jim Meinhold, former Democratic Board of Finance member.

  • Jeffrey Rutishauser, Republican Board of Finance member.

  • Andy Pforzheimer, former Democratic Board of Finance member and Wilton Library Association Board member.

  • Gail Lavielle, Republican state representative of the 143rd District and former Board of Finance member.

  • Al Alper, Republican Board of Finance member.

  • Bruce Likely, Republican Board of Education chair.

  • Maureen Graham, former vice president of ABC of Wilton.

  • Rita Garland, former treasurer of ABC of Wilton.

  • Amy Roberts, former ABC of Wilton board member.

  • Jane Lee, former ABC of Wilton board member.

  • Zelie Pforzheimer, former president of The Wilton Playshop.

  • Donna Savage, Wilton Playshop board member.

  • Danielle DeCrette, former Wilton Playshop board member.

  • Linda Prinner, retiree of the Coca-Cola Bottling Company of New York, Inc.

  • Shaun Higgins, retired president of Coca-Cola Enterprises Europe and former chief financial officer of the Coca-Cola Bottling Company of New York, Inc.

  • First Selectman Bill Brennan.

  • Toni Boucher, Republican state senator of the 26th District.

Vanderslice’s campaign website: