Sunday, January 18, 2009
Ron Klattenberg: Mayoral Candidate
As a kid growing up in New York City, Ron Klattenberg had a singular vision.
"My dream growing up in the city was to have a hot dog stand," Klattenberg remembers.
He used that dream in a fundraising scheme in the first civic project he was engaged in here in Middletown.
"I was working with the Parent Teacher Association when my children were at Wesley School," Klattenberg said in a phone interview. "There was a really strong push to find a better playscape for Wesley school. The parents were getting frustrated with lack of imagination.
"The biggest problem was how to raise the money, so I said what if we sold hot dogs?"
Klattenberg arranged to rent a stand from a New Haven vendor, and the parent group found themselves with enough funds to build the new playscape within two months.
"People still talk about the hot dogs," Klattenberg laughs.
From there, Klattenberg was involved in a number of civic organizations and projects and has served on Middletown's Conservation Commission, Planning and Zoning Commission and is currently a member of the city's Common Council.
But according to Klattenberg, his run for mayor stems less from political ambition, and more from a sense of serving the community in a time of need.
"I don't need to be doing this," Klattenberg declared. "I'm retired, and I could sit home all day and watch television. But I really feel the city is at a crossroads. We could be losing state and tax revenue, and I believe that leading the city is going to require a lot more leadership than we are seeing today. I also believe that there's a real serious need for more financial control and restraints, and there's going to be an enormous need for creativity and inclusion. There does need to be a style of management than helps us navigate through these difficult times. And I think I my history and my record in the city makes me a very viable candidate, and I think I can bring creativity and openness and fairness to this process."
Klattenberg is a retired environmental specialist, and a manager for environmental remediation at Northeast Utilities.
This experience has helped Klattenberg create innovative solutions for the city, and he sees opportunity for the same kind of innovative solutions in the future. Through his efforts, Klattenberg introduced the city to renewable energy.
"Middletown was the third city to be a Clean Energy City, and we were the first to be awarded the brand new free solar panels that are used at the former vocational agriculture building, and it's made Middletown a leader in renewable energy in Connecticut. And the fuel cell for the new high school is something I brought before the high school building committee. That fuel cell is saving the city approximately $250,000 in energy costs each year."
Klattenberg also supported renegotiating the city's energy contract with CL&P, saving the city half a million dollars over three years according to Klattenberg.
Klattenberg hopes to be elected as a mayor who will use cooperation between all parties, employees, unions, city departments, school leaders, staff leaders
"It requires a true spirit of cooperation and teamwork," Klattenberg emphasized. "And I think my work with the Army Advisory Panel is a good example. We took a problem that was insurmountable and found a site that is acceptable to all parties."
"But I'm fully capable of making a decision," Klattenberg declares. "If I'm elected, the true measure of my success is whether everybody gets a little angry with me. But I think most of all we have to be nimble. We have to be ready to act. Whenever the opportunity arises we need to be ready to respond quickly."