Rosenthal, Crick Owen Team Say They Are Running For A Second Term
As they look toward year’s end and the conclusion of their first term as elected running mates at the top of Newtown’s local ballot, First Selectman Dan Rosenthal and Selectman Maureen Crick Owen have notified The Newtown Bee they will be seeking a second term this fall.
Local elections are scheduled for November 5 for most of Newtown’s elected boards and commissions, and slates of candidates are expected to be announced in conjunction with party caucuses in the coming couple of weeks.
“It’s hard to believe that I first announced my campaign for First Selectman more than two years ago and more than a year and a half has passed since I began my first term,” Mr Rosenthal said in his announcement remarks. “The opportunity to serve our community as First Selectman has been extraordinary.”
Mr Rosenthal, who, along with Ms Crick Owen, is a Democrat, said each day typically brings a new challenge, “which is a constant reminder of how fortunate I am — and by extension our community is — to have a dedicated team of employees and volunteers.”
When he considers any accomplishments during his first term, the first selectman said he has “many people to thank, including my running mate and fellow selectman, Maureen Crick Owen.”
“In addition, just before we took office, I told [Republican] Selectman Jeff Capeci I wanted the Board of Selectmen to function as a team of three, and from our very first meeting, I have always felt a strong spirit of bipartisan collaboration among us,” he said of his board colleagues, extending his “sincere appreciation to Maureen and Jeff for their support.”
“I would also be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge the support I have received from members of both parties on the Board of Finance, Legislative Council, and many of our other appointed and elected boards and commissions,” Mr Rosenthal said. “Lastly, my family has been extremely patient with the schedule I keep, and their support means everything to me.”
Work On Roads
Mr Rosenthal said in preparing for his reelection campaign, he reflected on remarks he made at his swearing-in ceremony.
“There are many goals I set that we have been able to meet or that are presently [being worked on],” he said. “Funding for our road infrastructure has been increased over the past two budgets, and there is a plan to end bonding for roads as operating funds are increased in each successive year.”
He said highway crews and contractors are getting more work done, as well, with roughly 15 percent of Newtown’s sprawling 275-mile road system receiving repairs or scheduled for repairs between last year and the current construction season.
“This is by no means time for a victory lap, as we still have much work to do to bring our road infrastructure up to standard,” he said. “I also expressed a desire to resolve the long-discussed need for a new headquarters for the Newtown Police Department. With the overwhelming support of our fiscal bodies and ultimately the public, we are now in a position to open a new headquarters at the end of 2020 while saving the taxpayers roughly $2 million by repurposing an existing building versus building new.”
Mr Rosenthal said economic development remains a priority, and that he has spent a great deal of time creating a dialogue with commercial brokers and Newtown’s business community.
“At my request, the Board of Selectmen appointed a Business Advisory Committee to create an open door policy with our local businesses and to seek their ideas for areas of improvement,” he said.
The first selectman said at the same time, he has worked to improve transparency and communications with the community through expanded use of Newtown’s e-mail system and social media page. He plans to continue to look for ways — like his regularly scheduled “Walk and Talk” hikes around Fairfield Hills — to interact with the public outside of the more traditional and sometimes intimidating public meeting setting.
From a fiscal perspective, Mr Rosenthal said Newtown and his administration has made strides to improve upon policies and procedures that are “already very good.”
As reported recently in The Newtown Bee, the first selectman said Newtown’s Standard & Poor’s AAA bond rating has been reaffirmed, as has our AA1 rating with Moody’s Investors Service.
“This past year, I presented a ten-year Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) with the goal of providing increased transparency to the taxpayer and to shift our planning to think in decade-long terms rather than in five-year increments,” Mr Rosenthal said. “Working with the Board of Selectmen, I prioritized public safety and infrastructure needs and trimmed or eliminated elective projects with a goal to reduce our reliance on debt and to build a pay-as-we-go approach to some of our capital spending.”
He said the hiring of a Purchasing Director that is shared by the municipality and school district has enabled Newtown to centralize its purchasing functions and is already producing significant savings. And with the recently completed negotiation and ratification of the Town Hall Employees Union Contract, the first selectman said all town-wide bargaining units have “removed the defined benefit pension plan for all new hires.”
Taking Added Initiative
Mr Rosenthal said while he intends to continue focusing on many of the items already mentioned, there are at least a few more areas he intends to address if reelected for a second term.
“With regard to Fairfield Hills, I feel we are running out of time on repurposing the buildings that remain, and I have been working diligently to bring forward some options for consideration, with the goal being to spare the taxpayers at least some of the heavy expense of tearing buildings down,” he explained. “ During the last campaign, I spoke about the need for strategic planning, which I have not yet gotten underway due to many other demands. However, I have not forgotten and plan to pursue it in the coming months by establishing a team of volunteers to coordinate and plan public outreach.”
In closing, Mr Rosenthal remarked that “serving as First Selectman has been a true privilege, and I look forward to continuing to interact with residents in the coming months in hopes of maintaining their trust and confidence for another two years.”
Ms Crick Owen, who joined Mr Rosenthal for the reelection campaign announcement, told The Newtown Bee that she hit the ground running two years ago when she took over selectman responsibilities. But she had aspirations to do more than just handling the matters she was responsible for at board meetings.
“Working with Dan and being able to serve the people of Newtown really is an honor,” Ms Crick Owen said. “But once elected, I decided to go around and meet and get to know many of the agencies and organizations that also serve the town.”
The selectman said she wanted to see enough of how these agencies operate to be of the best assistance to them, as well as the first selectman.
“I went around and met with folks at the library, Edmond Town Hall, our five fire departments, and other agencies that are part of our budget and capital programs,” Ms Crick Owen said. “It was extremely helpful, and I started that more than a year ago. So it added value to everything I do in partnership with Dan.”
She said she learned a lot from the fire companies about how they operate and the types of equipment that is needed, so she could be better prepared when or if requests come her way through the budget or CIP process.
“The other thing I learned is how the library is reinventing itself for the users of today,” Ms Crick Owen said. “Even with Edmond Town Hall, learning about everything they do there and getting a tour, if you could call it that, was something of an ‘a-ha’ moment.”
The aspiring second-term selectman said she hopes to lend more energy and expertise to Mr Rosenthal’s future strategic planning initiatives, and that she has enjoyed a collaborative relationship throughout her first term with fellow Selectman Capeci.
“The three of us — as a team — work really well together. And I think that has a distinct benefit to every person who lives in town,” she said. “I think that has to do with the many hats [Jeff Capeci] has worn as a town leader. He comes with extensive knowledge about how the town operates.”
Ms Crick Owen said she is looking forward to serving a second term as Mr Rosenthal’s running mate.
“He’s doing a good job,” she said, “we talk, we chat, and most importantly, he listens.”