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 Dennis Tracey , who is running for selectman.
1. Why should people vote for you?
The most important things to people in Weston are (1) ensuring the continued excellence of our schools; (2) controlling our expenses so we can afford to live here; and (3) having a civil, inclusive and effective town government. I am committed to these goals and will make them my key priorities.
The schools. The Weston schools are a key asset of our town. As a parent, I recognize the importance of a strong commitment to our schools and their critical mission. I will work with the Board of Education to ensure that we are always focused on excellence and that we allocate our resources in a way that will best serve our students. The schools are a tremendous asset to our town and even those who do not have children in the public schools benefit from the excellent educational system we have.
Affordability. We all need to recognize the importance of an affordable Weston. The schools benefit everyone, but high taxes hurt everyone. As a selectman, I would review all expenditures proposed by the Board of Education to ensure that tax dollars spent on education are well spent, efficient and disciplined. I will not hesitate to express my views if the budget fails to use our residents' taxes wisely.
Effective town government. If elected selectman, I would work hard to be sure that our town government is as effective and efficient as possible. I have worked for many years to help improve our town, including chairing the Legal Review Committee and the Lachat Building Committee, and co-chairing the Charter Revision Commission. In everything I do, I put the town's interests first and foremost. I have a record of no-nonsense solutions. No politics and no agendas. Just a focus on a strong, effective, non-partisan government.
2. What are the biggest issues facing Weston?
In my discussions with people in town, I hear two things. First, high taxes. People are concerned that we are spending too much money and that our taxes are pricing some residents out of the town they love. The other issue is civility. Our town is small and we are all neighbors. We need a town government that is civil and responsive, where every resident can feel comfortable expressing their views.
3. Is Weston going in the right direction -- If you are an incumbent, what were your biggest achievements? If you are a challenger, what has your opponent done wrong while in office?
I believe I will bring to the office of selectman a fresh and independent view that will bring significant benefits to the town. I will take an independent view, and make decisions that are on the merits and non-political. I will bring professionalism and dedication to town government.
4. What is one change you would like made to the town's charter? What's one thing you do not want changed?
I think our town charter is fundamentally sound. The most important element of our town government is its participatory democracy. We need to ensure that all of our voters can be heard and that the ultimate decisions rest with the town's residents, and so I would not change our form of town meeting government. However, in order to allow more residents to participate and encourage voting, I would like to see the modification of the voting process on the annual budget to allow private ballots, and more flexible voting times so that more of our town can participate in the budget vote.
5. What's your plan for the future of the Lachat property?
I believe the Lachat property is among the most beautiful and historic sites in all of Fairfield County, and the town should take advantage of this precious asset. As the chair of the Lachat Building Committee, I have participated in the negotiation of a new agreement with the Nature Conservancy to allow the town to use the property as it sees fit.
I think we should solicit the views of town residents and neighbors as to what the best use would be. Among the ideas that I find particularly appealing is to establish a community farm that would bring town residents together on the property, offer sustainable small-scale agriculture, and provide a learning opportunity for our town and particularly the children about sustainable farming.
I would also very much like to see the preservation of the Lachat farmhouse and its use as part of a community farm - as long as the funds can be raised privately. We have a number of residents, led by Carol Baldwin, who are donating their time and money to this invaluable effort.
6. How will the town prepare for another natural disaster? What was done well during Tropical Storm Irene? What could have been done differently?
I think the storm was a wake-up call for our town and brought to the forefront our vulnerability in a natural disaster. I applaud the town for establishing the comfort station and making efforts to communicate with town residents. I believe that the town should establish better contacts with CL&P so that in the future the voices of Weston will be heard earlier and its basic electrical needs restored in a more timely way.
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