Differences between the local parties
It’s a wild election season. The Republican ticket is headed by a former selectman who voted with the Republicans to underfund education but now says she supports education. This same former selectman also voted with the Republicans on a measure that helped undermine the town’s fund balance. Both actions made the town more vulnerable and less financially robust to weather the current mess. She asserts that the current selectmen are not disclosing everything but does not provide one bit of evidence or one fact to support her claim.
Otherwise, the Republican party platform piggybacks on what the current selectmen are already doing such as: supporting the town manager (stopping the revolving door) and not micromanaging; restructuring the finance department (already done); instituting controls and procedures (already done); consideration of all solutions to the fiscal crisis (in process); fixing the roads (which the Emergency Citizens Committee to Repair Our Town made a budget issue in May).
The Republicans are silent on taxes.
The Independent ticket is headed by the self-professed anti-tax advocate who is also antigovernment. Yet he wants to now run the government! This slate seems to be comparing the Winsted situation with the American Revolution and themselves to the founding fathers.
The head of the Independent ticket uses the term “corrupt leadership” without a shred of evidence or one fact to back it up. If he is referring to the former finance director, who was certainly corrupt, he was fired last year.
Also, without one fact, the head of the Independent party accuses the selectmen of “overspending.” Spoiler alert — there is a deficit because money was stolen, not from overspending. The budget is actually underspent and town side spending is frozen until January.
Another on the Independent slate, in an aggressive manner, asserts that the town is on the “brink of financial bankruptcy” and is concerned about the “state taking over.” Again without one fact to support such assertions and contrary to the facts already known. He also states that being a selectmen will be a “a fulltime job” (can you spell micromanaging?).
Others on the Independent slate speak of fixing the roads and lower taxes – almost in the same sentence. Another on the slate talks on about his own personal grudges.
All in all, a lot of Monday morning quarterbacking that is long on assertion and short on facts and solutions.
One thing on which both the Republican and Independent candidates agree is that the bickering has to stop. Let’s take a closer look at this. The only selectmen who are bickering are the minority Republicans — and it’s actually only one of the two.
The minority has spent the past four years squabbling without proposing any practical or sensible solutions. When the Republicans were in the majority they used the fund balance to finance lower taxes. After they decimated it, one former Republican selectman stated, “Well, it’s our money, we should spend it.”
The current selectmen in the majority have worked together, despite the noise, to bring in new auditors, remove the corrupt official, support the town manager’s changes in the finance department and public works, propose a charter change to close an obvious gap in the water/ sewer division; get a budget passed on the first try; and, now working with the state and others to solve the shortfall the town faces as a result of the theft of millions of dollars.
Tough stuff. But we will get through it. Time to stay steady.
The writer is the community lawyer in Winsted.