Driving through town you may have noticed ‘Vote Row B for Balance Monday, May 3” lawn signs popping up. The message is an encouragement to bring bipartisanship back to Woodbridge for the betterment of our town on election day Monday, May 3rd.
Political campaigns can be more about the future than a referendum on the past. In the case of our upcoming town election, both the past and the future are relevant. While I encourage you to view the impressive resumes of our candidates online at WoodbridgeGOP.com, let me take this opportunity to focus on the issues and why the election of local Republican candidates up and down the ticket will achieve better government.
Up until the submission of the controversial application to the Town Plan and Zoning Commission to negate our current zoning laws, the biggest issue in town for a decade was the future of the golf course. The handling of this property since its purchase in 2009 has been fraught with missteps, including knee-jerk changes in contractors to manage it as a golf course, a failed referendum to sell it for high-density development, and most recently a “do nothing” tactic in an effort to let the issue lay fallow. In contrast, town Republicans offer a balanced approach to resolve this long-standing issue: 1) properly manage the golf course now, which means maintaining the most visible parts so that it is attractive and a pleasure for residents who want to walk there and 2) engage a consultant with expertise in golf course repurposing , so residents can learn what options for use of the property are feasible taking into account both current zoning requirements and the results of the town-wide opinion survey.
The zoning controversy has now taken center stage. From the beginning, Republican candidates have publicly defended both our current zoning laws and our town’s reputation in the face of unfounded, scurrilous accusations of racism and “exclusionary zoning.” Conversely, current Democrat officeholders, and aspiring Board of Selectmen candidates, have remained silent on the issue. Why? Of the nine members of the newly created committee to address the affordable housing situation in town, at least seven are registered Democrats and none appear to be on the record opposing the proposed zoning changes to allow the construction of affordable housing throughout our town. This is not balanced government when public statements and publicly available information show Woodbridge residents are 10:1 opposed to this application.
As our mill rate continues to put us in the upper echelon of Connecticut towns, there needs to be tighter control on town government decisions that impact our taxes. One area is bonding. The near-automatic practice of issuing new bonds as others are retired – keeping us in debt – needs serious reexamination. There are multiple capital projects now being considered for bonding – and the Democratic plan is to “bundle” them into a single referendum. The plan supported by the Republicans is to put each project up for a vote so taxpayers can make the choice of where to spend their money.
The benefit of Republican leadership is already apparent with the Woodbridge Board of Education. While party affiliation and alignment should have no place on a school board, a stark difference in the two parties’ approaches exists here and we can’t ignore it. Democrat Board members have continued to resist re-opening Beecher Road School due to COVID-19 concerns. The Republican members of the Board followed the science and the safety protocols for the health of students and staff and fully supported the opening of Beecher Road School in September, which included offering on-line learning as an alternative. The result? 80% of the students have been back in school for the full school year and the very few cases of COVID-19 identified among the school population were contact traced to sources not in Beecher. The Republicans got it right, and our Beecher students and parents are the beneficiaries.
The bottom line is Woodbridge is better off when our leadership is balanced. Both at work and at home, the best ideas emerge when two or more people discuss the alternatives. In government, too, voters win when ideas receive thorough vetting and balanced resolution. A drumbeat of past failures needs to be tempered with forward-thinking approaches for the betterment of Woodbridge. The Republican candidates offer this perspective and deserve the voters’ support on Monday, May 3.