WESTON, Conn. The Daily Weston sent a questionaire to candidates in the Nov. 8 election to help voters as they make their choices. The following answers were provided by David Muller, a candidate for re-election as a Weston selectman.
Why should people vote for you?
I bring more than 10 years of experience to the table, having served on all of the major boards and commissions (selectmen, finance and planning and zoning) in Weston, as well as having served as chairman of the Committee on Town-to-Town Partnership following Hurricane Katrina. [First Selectman] Gayle [Weinstein] and I have completed our first term together, having fulfilled our dual goals of fiscal and social responsibility, and we both believe our skills will be useful as the town continues to confront economic pressures. Importantly, I view myself as a public servant, not as a politician. I strive to create an environment of active volunteerism, demonstrating for my three school-aged children the importance of involvement in civic affairs.
What are the biggest issues facing Weston?
The biggest issues facing us are the continuing financial pressure in a questionable economic environment, how to deal with a static grand list (= flat revenue) and constraints on state funding, and how to deliver budgets that avoid or minimize property tax increases.
Is Weston going in the right direction? If you are an incumbent, what were your biggest achievements?
I am certain Weston is going in the right direction. We have been able to maintain town services in spite of extreme pressure on financial resources. We have addressed issues that have lingered on the town's agenda, including the Revson field remediation, the Lachat property and the question of a town cemetery. We have taken steps to bring the town into the 21st century through advances in Internet access to town government. We have also reflected our concern for the environment through our new bulky waste ordinance, establishing the Bicycle & Pedestrian Committee and re-launching the Sustainability Committee.
What is one change you would like made to the town's charter? What's one thing you do not want changed?
The most significant change to the town's charter should be establishment of procedures for town meetings both the regular meetings called throughout the year on multiple topics and the annual town budget meeting. With information available electronically, and with an ability to access meetings remotely via Internet and TV, we need to recognize that town residents can interact and participate in governing the town in ways that were not available when the charter was last reviewed. However, I want to ensure that the concept of participatory democracy, whereby the voters are asked to decide issues that impact their lives and the lives of their neighbors, remains at the forefront of the town charter. I therefore do not want to move the town in the direction of having all decisions taken by elected officials, maintaining the Connecticut tradition of the people coming together on matters of significance.
What's your plan for the future of the Lachat property?
My primary concern is the current safety of the structure. In keeping with the intent of the original gift to the town, my preference would be to maintain the building and to develop the property into a useful and beautiful facility for the town to enjoy. I have therefore supported giving adequate time for such funds to be raised. Absent private-sector support, however, I do not believe it is within the financial means of the town to rebuild the house.
How will the town prepare for another natural disaster? What was done well during Hurricane Irene? What could have been done differently?
There is an ongoing project to review and augment the existing disaster plans. Following my proposal, we have prepared a questionnaire to gather suggestions on how the town can improve its communications with residents, which will be distributed along with a letter reminding residents about the Code Red system. Looking back at Irene, I believe the establishment of the comfort station at WMS and the regular Code Red updates were executed extremely well. I am extremely proud of our first selectman's hands-on problem-solving skills, marshaling resources and negotiating with CL&P to get Weston, which was the hardest-hit town in the region, back "on line."
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