Submitted by Lisa Loomis.
I support Ben Florsheim because he shares my values and concerns about climate change, education, and equity. Since President Trump is not a leader on climate change, it is even more essential we elect local leaders who are. Ben is that leader. On education, Ben will support a charter revision to allow the superintendent to hire non-certified staff including custodians, nurses, cafeteria workers, and secretaries. Currently, the mayor fills those positions, and mayors have rewarded their friends with jobs rather than the best people. I know as an educator and a BOE member all the adults in a school play a role in making that school successful, and for district leaders to make our schools more successful, they need to be able to hire the people they believe are the best for the job. Finally, Ben’s commitment to equity is evident in many of his policy proposals, from his commitment to expanding affordable housing to developing the riverfront by prioritizing citizen recreational access. The riverfront should not be a something a lucky few can profit from but a place everyone can enjoy. Past mayors have talked about developing the riverfront; I believe Ben is the mayor who will get it done.
Why do I believe that? Because of Ben’s experience and skill-set. Ben’s experience in Senator Murphy’s office has been primarily about 2 things: listening and building coalitions. That’s what we need our next mayor to do to move Middletown forward. The reason route 9 has not been addressed adequately is because leaders haven’t listened to citizens. Instead, they develop a plan in isolation and then present it to the citizens who point out all the problems with it. To get this done right, we need a fundamentally new approach, which is to bring citizens and experts together to talk about the various challenges and identify a solution that works for everyone. That is the approach Ben will bring to this issue and many others.
The other piece of Ben’s experience in Senator Murphy’s office that is extremely valuable is the fact that he has traveled and worked with municipal leaders all over the state. Because of this, he brings a fresh perspective to Middletown. He’s seen what’s been done in other municipalities that would help Middletown if brought here, such as utilizing the See Click Fix app. Also, 2 big issues facing Middletown are route 9 and riverfront development, which both connect us to other municipalities. Ben’s regional experience is an asset in addressing these. His regional experience will also help him identify where and how Middletown can work with surrounding municipalities by sharing services, for example, to lower taxes.
Lastly, I want to mention Ben’s commitment to accessibility and transparency of government. He’s given out his cell phone number and has refused to accept donations from city contractors. I want a mayor who will open city hall to all, not just the well-connected.
Please join me in supporting Ben Florsheim for Middletown’s future.