Editor’s note: The Easton Courier asked the two selectman candidates to answer two questions in 500 words or fewer per question. The responses from Democratic candidate Nick D’Addario follow below.
What are the top challenges facing Easton and how will you address them?
Finding ways to preserve the rural character of our town and protect it from development is an ever-present challenge and one of my highest priorities. I moved to Easton because my wife and I wanted to raise our son in a small agriculture community with beautiful open spaces.
First Selectman Dave Bindelglass and I will continue to support our Easton farms and to identify and leverage state and federal agricultural preservation grants and programs to benefit local farmers. I will also continue to build relationships with important local preservation leaders like the Aspetuck Land Trust. The recent finalization of Easton’s transfer of the Mill River portion of the South Park property to the land trust, a project led by Dave, was made possible by a combination of state grant funding and land trust monies. I will work to explore more preservation options on this model, which both protect unique resources like the Mill River and put the town in a stronger financial position.
A related challenge is finding ways to ensure that the people of Easton retain control of local land use decisions. In the past three years, with initiatives Dave led to ensure Town Meeting decisions must also be approved by a town-wide referendum and the Land Use Ordinance to require a referendum prior to the sale or lease of town land, we are in a stronger position to maintain control. With a background in real estate and experience serving on the Planning and Zoning Commission, I will join Dave in his efforts to keep Easton residents at the center of land use discussions.
We must keep our tax rates reasonable while improving our town services — with immediate emphasis on the need to construct a new EMS building but also a continued commitment to our excellent schools and resources for seniors. With a strong financial management background, I will partner closely with the Board of Finance to find efficiencies to maximize town revenue and work to identify grants to benefit our schools, library, and senior services without asking residents to bear unreasonable tax hikes.
Staying reasonably informed about local government is a challenge. When speaking with residents during this campaign season, the most common comment I hear is how welcome Dave’s consistent communications have been in getting important information about town business. Together, he and I plan to continue an open and transparent government that is responsible and effective. Ensuring that residents have the facts they need to make important decisions will remain a high priority.
Avoiding toxic, hyper-partisan politics is also a challenge. David and Bob have worked to make government not just effective, but inclusive of diverse points of view. They have achieved some of their most notable successes by working to find bipartisan solutions that build the consensus needed to solve tough problems. I am committed to continuing this bipartisan spirit because building broad support for important policies is essential for good government.
Why should voters vote for you?
My philosophy is that “you can’t complain unless you’re willing to get involved.”
I am the candidate for those in Easton who believe the things that make Easton truly special — our priceless open spaces and farms, our commitment to great schools and senior services — are best served by a well-run local government that is committed to transparency. Dave has greatly expanded both communications to keep residents informed and opportunities for everyone in town to participate in important town decisions. I will be a strong advocate to continue this trend. Easton residents today have more facts and information about our local government, and more opportunities to participate in town affairs than at perhaps at any other time in our history. I will be a full partner to Dave in maintaining this era of openness in Easton, and I am committed to finding new ways to include more diverse points of view in town discussions.
With management experience gained running a fourth-generation local business, along with service on the Planning and Zoning Commission, I can bring skills to the Board of Selectmen to help us meet both immediate challenges such as the construction of a new EMS building, and longer-term challenges like ensuring our schools continue to deliver a first-rate educational experience that can retain top administrators and educators.
I bring the perspective of someone who has been connected to our area for, literally, generations, but also, because I moved back recently, an understanding of what it’s like to be a newcomer in town. We need to celebrate both Easton’s history as a small farming town as well as the arrival of new residents and families who become part of the Easton story as well. I believe we must remain a welcoming town by celebrating diversity and working to understand the needs of our residents. Our newer residents add to the character that makes Easton a unique and special place to raise a family.
Local government has a tremendous impact on our lives, on our personal finances, and on our children’s futures. I believe in good government that is open, eager to provide residents with opportunities to participate, and insistent that discussions about important town issues be backed by facts and not political slogans. I am a strong believer in building bipartisan consensus, and that common sense and reasonable people working together can solve big programs. And I also believe that compassion has a role in government. Whenever we can find ways to improve people’s lives in small ways — with a new sports field, or an improvement at the senior center, or more after-school programs — without increasing the financial burden on taxpayers, we are making local government work for the people. That is the job: To put the people of Easton first.