Our country is facing great financial challenges. Price inflation has not been matched by an increase in wages for most of us. Our Federal and State government has been spending money at an unsustainable level. Many families are already confronted with the financial hardships that the city of Middletown will have to grapple with very soon.
When I was trying to figure out what you should know about me, I asked myself what information is important to me as a voter. To make an informed vote on November 8th, you should know who the candidates are, what the incumbents' records are, and what they promise to do if they are elected.
First, if you don't believe their promises, don't give them your vote.
I have now served on the Common Council for six years. My record is public knowledge. I don't take the easy way out by voting “yes” for every raise, and for the giveaways to the powerful local insiders. I have never supported unwarranted, wasteful spending, nor have I backed away from wise investment of your money. There are some votes I regret making in my six years, some from a lack of the proper information, and one or two that were just mistakes. Those mistakes have made me more careful and motivated to be better prepared. I have learned to take special care in how I vote for confirmation of City Directors and other key City Personnel. Most of the accomplishments of the Council are team efforts, so I keep my ego in check, and do not take credit for the work of others.
We cannot know where we are going if we do not know where we have been. Sadly, the overall characteristic of this campaign so far has been an unending scrap over past events. I don't wish to fuel that dialogue. But I will try to explain the disconnect between the average citizen of Middletown and the Common Council. For decades, an overwhelming number of Council members have been current or retired government employees. A veto-proof majority sit on the present Common Council. They like the way our Municipal Government operates and work to keep it that way.
I want to change the way the Common Council operates and set goals that improve the stewardship of Middletown by all of its elected officials. Here are the details of what I will work for:
• Set financial projections for the Public and the Municipal workforce. The Council never looks past the next fiscal year. Directors and Departments are not challenged, priorities are not set, and the Public has no way of measuring the performance of its Elected Officials. We need budget projections that look at least five years into the future, available for everyone to see.
•Institute basic management practices. There are no performance goals set for Directors and Departments. No municipal employee even receives an annual review, employee accomplishments are not recognized, and deficiencies are not corrected. Compensation of the City workforce only ratchets upwards, there are no salary evaluations to similar duties in other sectors of the economy.
•Institute “best practice” work policies. Too many city operations are still being done the way they were done decades ago, seemingly by the “seat of the pants.” Technology is implemented backwards. Instead of the job evolving to embrace new tools, new technology is reworked to fit outmoded procedures. Municipal Departments are not ready for regionalization or consolidation of services.
•Transition from borrowing for regular upkeep of the City's assets to a “pay as you go” budget. Our roads, water & sewer mains, buildings, and parks need regular attention. We currently borrow for these needs or neglect them altogether. As we pay off the bonds for MHS, we should stop borrowing to do the upkeep necessary year after year. We have to pay anyway, so why do we add interest onto the cost for the taxpayer? Preserving the City's assets is critical to the financial health and future of Middletown.
•Re-institute agriculture into the local economy. We all get hungry, don't we? Why should the money we spend on foodstuffs leave Middletown? As energy costs rise, so will food prices. Local agriculture will create local jobs, and encourage better nutrition, with better-tasting food. These jobs cannot be exported as so many of the manufacturing jobs once in Middletown have been.
•Neighborhood improvement programs – Middletown has many unique neighborhoods. We need to embrace what makes the different areas of Middletown desirable, and preserve those traits and property values. We can no longer get by with “cookie cutter” solutions, or benign neglect.
Middletown faces many uncertainties. If you place your trust in me with your vote, I will work to make our City a family-friendly place - good for seniors, good for our youth, with jobs for everyone who wants one.