With local elections just over a month away, Newtown Democrats and Republicans have both been busy sounding a theme of balance to the party faithful and voters.
For Democrats, the advocacy is about restoring balance, while the first of several expected Republican releases focuses on how party incumbents have worked to maintain a balanced agenda over the previous two years — work they say yielded a number of accomplishments on behalf of residents.
The Newtown Democrats are promoting what they are calling “some of the most qualified candidates to ever run for town office.”
“We have looked back at history a bit to see what formula really seemed to work best for Newtown,” a Democratic release reads. “It wasn’t surprising to see that the best system of civility, economics, taxes and education was when there was a more balanced political makeup of officials.”
According to the Democratic release, no one person or one party has all the answers.
“Diversity of thoughts, opinions and ideas bring us a greater spectrum from which to solve problems and move forward. That’s what the Newtown Democratic candidates mean when they say restore balance,” the release states.
The Democrats believe that Newtown needs its entire citizenry to become engaged to address the challenges facing the community.
“There are many important issues, including economic development, education, and taxes… restoring party balance with exceptional Democratic candidates moves us forward in that direction,” the release concludes.
Gaston Stresses Leadership
Unopposed Democratic Selectman James Gaston, Sr, said in a separate statement that the Board of Selectmen has worked to provide strong leadership throughout the past two years of trying times.
“Through mutual respect, cooperation, and corroboration the selectmen have worked well together, this balance of representation broadly expanding a wide spectrum of backgrounds, ideas and experiences,” Selectman Gaston wrote. “I believe this balance has served Newtown well.”
He added that as the community addresses ongoing matters it is important to acknowledge that no one person or one political party has all the answers.
“I would suggest that this recognition at the Board of Selectmen level is one of the reasons it has functioned well in both regular and emergency mode,” Mr Gaston stated. “I would suggest that our town is best served when there exist a breadth of balance that includes knowledge and participation. A balance in representation of elected officials optimizes the best ability to thoroughly address issues and solve problems.”
GOP Acknowledges Challenges
Town Republicans acknowledge that the last several years have been challenging for Newtown for a host of reasons: difficult economy, multiple hurricanes, and significant and unexpected events, and during this time it has been very difficult to keep perspective and focus.
Despite those challenges, local Republicans contend they have risen to the challenge with the “courage to lead,” sticking to GOP guiding principles and balancing town priorities. Prior to the 2011 elections, local GOP leaders committed to promoting a high quality of life for all citizens, tax relief strategies, supporting excellence in education, and implementing sound financial practices.
As a party, local Republicans believe they have addressed each one of these areas.
Regarding increasing local taxes, Newtown Republicans say the way to help homeowners and reduce the tax burden is not only to continue to be diligent about curbing budget increases, but also continuing a commitment to invest in and to develop the community's commercial base through the improvement of its business centers.
“Another large step forward is the commitment we have made to bring sewers to the [Hawleyville] area,” the GOP release states. “Republicans initiated the sewer project because we believe it is a critical component to a large area representing a tremendous opportunity for the kind of commercial development that we think is most appropriate. All of these combined initiatives lay the groundwork for commercial development and will attract businesses to our town.”
The GOP claims that under its leadership on the Board of Education there have been improvements in the allocation of resources, more clarity in communication with the general community, concentrated focus on the three prongs of education — curriculum development and renewal, instructional improvements — and evaluation and accountability of all personnel.
“The Board of Education has provided greater transparency, greater accountability, and a more thorough vetting of budgets,” according to the release.
Local Republicans say they have often spoken about the importance of the town's fund balance, which is used for unplanned emergencies and is one of the barometers by which rating agencies test the financial healthiness of the town.
“We have continued to make progress in increasing this balance to a level that is highly regarded by the rating agencies, allowing the town to borrow money at a lower rate,” the GOP release notes.
Reducing debt is another of the financial issues Republicans continue to address. Republican officials say they have played a key role in reviewing the Town's debt service policy and lowering future indebtedness from ten percent of Newtown’s operational budget to nine percent.
GOP leaders on the Board of Finance and the Legislative Council are committed to continuing a review of town operating expenses to find more efficiencies.
To view the Democrats slate of candidates and get other party information, visit the Newtown Democratic Town Committee website at newtownctdemocrats.org.
To learn more about the Newtown Republican candidates for this fall’s election, and to view GOP newsletters, visit newtownrepublicans.org.