Meet the Brooklyn First Selectman candidates
By Denise Coffey - Staff Writer
Brooklyn - posted Mon., Oct. 21, 2013
Democrat Rick Ives is challenging incumbent Austin Tanner for the First Selectman’s seat in Brooklyn. “What we really need is a new culture of involvement and inclusion,” Ives said. “At a debate last night, 30 people showed up. We have town meetings where eight to 12 people make decisions for the town. As first selectman, I have to be the person to change that. I don’t know what it takes. I just know it has to be done. We have to communicate differently. We have to make it easy for people to be involved.
We have a website in town that was rated 154th out of 159 towns. We need an interactive website. We need places where people can talk to board and commission members and get answers. We need to make it as easy as possible to get people involved. Then perhaps we can get together and make some decisions that actually represent the community.
I’ve been chair of the Board of Education. I’m presently chair of the Board of Finance. I think I understand this town. I care about it very much. I think by instilling a new culture of working together and getting people out, I provide a different option, a different choice than the status quo which is pretty much things are done in secret.
Incumbent Republican Austin Tanner said, “Things are pretty well managed now. We have been looking at purchasing software for the building department, possibly getting a finance director for the town, and applying for a STEAP grant for Prince Hill Park.
We got STEAP grants for the last two years that we used for road improvements. When they talked [about adding] a pavilion and walkway for Prince Hill Park, I suggested we try for a STEAP grant. I think it would be a good grant. You could write an attractive grant. We don’t have figures on everything yet but it might be in the neighborhood of $400,000-500,000.
In the four years I’ve been here, we’ve done a lot of things for the town. We built a garage and held the mil rate pretty constant. I think we’ve had wise financial austerity here without cutting services. If we keep going, that I think is a good thing for the town. We’re getting our loans paid off. There are long range things we’re going to have to take a look at sometime in the near future, but I think right now we are getting our house in order. When I came here we had a lot of cost overruns. I think things are going pretty smoothly right now.
Our record speaks for itself. We haven’t had a mil rate increase because of some negotiations I made with health insurance and contracts. People don’t really see that, but we’ve been able to do it because we’ve made some good decisions.