Town moving forward despite negative views of councilors

Mayor John Harkins

Mayor John Harkins

As an elected official, I have always lived by the mantra that when politics becomes personal, it becomes destructive. Regrettably, some current members of the Town Council would rather make personal attacks and play politics than govern.

It has been an honor to serve as your mayor for the last eight years. I am proud of what my administration has been able to accomplish during this time. We have been able to provide the many services that Stratford residents have come to expect while weathering difficult economic times. We have provided a bright future for our town by improving our schools, attracting new businesses, and ensuring that Stratford remains a town where people want to live, work, and visit. It is a shame, however, that some elected officials would rather tear our town down than continue to improve.

Two council members wrote so incredibly negatively about our town in this newspaper last week, that it is hard to believe they were ever elected to serve and to try to actually help our community. Facts can be stubborn things; however, the facts clearly point in the right direction for our town moving forward. While taxes are a bit higher than any of us want, there are many positive things happening in Stratford.  

Despite the stagnant economy throughout the rest of Connecticut and Northeast, Stratford’s economic development activity is ahead of pace. Since my initiative to expand the Economic Development Department in 2012, the amount of taxable commercial property has increased by $180 million and we have received over $12 million in state and federal grants for businesses. Not a bad return for a department that operates with less than $250,000 annually.

For years, Lordship residents suffered with a Main Street that flooded and a blighted fence at Sikorsky Memorial Airport. My administration successfully negotiated an agreement in 2012 that has resulted in a safer, smaller airport and a road that no longer floods during common rain storms.

Raymark contamination left a stigma with our town for decades. Working with residents, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection and our health department, we were able to get a cleanup plan agreed upon and funded to the tune of $95 million which will ultimately result in a safer, cleaner landscape and more developable property.

Recently, we had our eighth Blues on the Beach concert that has attracted tens of thousands of people over the years to gather and enjoy some great local music and our beautiful Short Beach. Three of our Town Council members voted against supporting this popular event that has been described to me by many as “the best thing our town has ever done.” Stratford is a town that is on the move in a positive direction and needs elected officials that believe in the future of our community versus harping on negativity.  
I look forward to further updating our community on the progress in town that has been made over the years.

John Harkins is in his eighth and final year as mayor of Stratford.

About author

By participating in the comments section of this site you are agreeing to our Privacy Policy and User Agreement

  • LorraineCecile Benoit

    The mayor is out of touch with the average citizen and most long term residents are forced to move due to high taxes and lack of services . he does not state that vetoing a budget passed by the council was why the councillors complained- they voluntteer to make our life better while he has spent our money on highly paid cronies and nepotism Who can enjoy anything in this town when you cannot pay the bills and as a senior need to work 6 days a week and cannot make ends meet , when the garbage isn’t piked up properly and you are never able to get a large dump run, a huge pothole sits outside your front door. Lordship- the crime has increased substantially under his watch- i guess its easier ti get to Lordship for criminals without the flooded road.

  • Harold Watson

    I don’t know why I even bother but please notice the inconsistency of “…when politics becomes personal, it becomes destructive. Regrettably, some current members of the Town Council…..” Clearly if you attend council meeting you know exactly who he is referring to ( and who he is not!) Actually, what he has done that is personal is to send increased tax bills annually to every taxpayer, not to mention to try to sell of our Sewer System assets. The some he mentions are progressives of booth parties who must clean up his fiscal mess and discover and replace misappropriated funds like to our WPCA. It might make being a cranky council member the right thing to do.

  • Alta Vista

    “Harping on negativity” is our Mayor’s description of legitimate criticism directed at him. nn”Personal attack and play politics rather than govern” is his self-description of telling high school students u2013 without the ability to vote u2013 to vote out the town council members who oppose him. And his three budget vetoes. And so much more.nnOne wonders if the Mayor, who himself does not pay the taxes in Stratford, wrote this from the comfort of his new home in Shelton? nnIt says something very significant about John Harkins that he chooses to live in a town that has not experienced the decline that Stratford has under his eight year rule.nnIf everything was as you claim, why did you leave town, John? You voted with your feet to “get out of Dodge.” Thankfully, you’ll soon leave the Mayor’s office, just as you abandoned Stratford.

  • Alta Vista

    Just another couple of quick points: notice how John Harkins takes no responsibility for 8 years of tax increases, calling them a “bit higher than anyone wants.” nnNo, John, they are higher than anyone wants and you have been the architect of each and every one of those tax increases! nnThey are not something that just happened, like the weather. They are the result of your mis-management and your fabled ‘friends and family’ approach to budgeting and governing.nnHe simply cannot help but lie, can he? nnThe Sikorsky Memorial Airport foot print is certainly NOT SMALLER than it was. nnThey added a 300 foot extension to a runway and Main Street needed to be moved to accommodate that. The foot print of airport is clearly larger than before. Perhaps he can’t see that from his home in Shelton.nnAlso, the rancid note of self-congratulation over a successful music festival which is claimed to be the “best thing our town has ever done.” Really? In 400 years, a day of music on the beach is the greatest accomplishment ever in Stratford? John, please send me a case of whatever it is you’re drinking, OK?nnSure, this is a wonderful event, but it actually costs tax money to produce. Holding the line on spending might also have been welcomed by tax payers, along with the tunes.

  • Kenny

    How does the Town justify doubling the Registrar of Voters Budget?nWho decided we needed increased staffing there? nPeople can register to vote on line by going to the State of Ct web site any time they want, so why the added expense to Stratford’s registrar.nnnWouldn’t that increased funding be better spent helping our kids or senior citizens or the less fortunate??

  • Ed Foster

    Thank you Mayor Harkins. It is just stupid how a small cadre of whiners e.g Benoit, Watson and Vista et. al. continue with their rants while the town moves along during a period of difficult economic and social times. Most detractors have proven their ignorance by not comprehending the financial statements that govern the real economic needs of the town. They are always in attack mode and often have no clue how to realistically focus on problem solving. You have shown courage and persistence in sticking it out for the full 8 years that you were comfortably elected to. Many would have thrown in the towel rather than continuing to be subject to these blithering idiots. Again, thank you for your service.

    • Alta Vista

      John Harkins could not even wait for his term of office to be up before he sold his stake in Stratford and relocated to Shelton. Shelton, a town he has not run for 8 years and one that had a tax decrease this year.nnI think that says everything one needs to know about the character of the man.nnYet he’s credited with “courage and persistence” by simply serving his full term? Mr. Foster, your standards for “courage and persistence” are ridiculously low.

      • Ed Foster

        Gosh, can you get any more inconsiderate of a person who has given 8 years of public service as mayor and many more as state rep. if he was that lousy, would he really be elected in this fine democratic system that relies on majority (oops not electoral) votes. Might you recall that he has gone through immense personal trauma. Give us all a break and stfu.

        • Alta Vista

          Mr. Foster, you do know that the Mayor is well compensated for his time? He, unlike the town councilors he wants thrown out of office, does not volunteer his time.nnI’m not certain what ‘immense personal trauma’ you refer to. The only personal issue I’m aware of in the Mayor’s life that is public knowledge was caused by breaking the Seventh Commandment and, as such, might be considered self-inflicted.nnThe issues the Mayor’s critics raise are not about him personally, they are about fiscal policy. I have never heard or read anyone say u2013 not even his harshest critics u2013 that the Mayor is not qualified to lead because of his personal life.nnWe are all human and prone to error but you cannot deny that there are many in town who disagree with the direction Stratford has taken over the last 8 years.

      • The Real Facts

        Apparently you don’t read the newspapers. The Post and Star have published the Mayor lives in Stratford with is father. How about getting your facts straight. You sound awfully like the six council members who continue to make up erroneous budgets that they pass. When you ask them how they got their budget numbers they state it is based on their “perspective”. When asked to further clarify if it is based on facts and the answer was no, their perspective.nGet your facts straight before you post something.

        • Alta Vista

          There are more facts than are printed in the press. Every adult knows that. Newspapers also print lies each and every day, as they print what people tell them, and people often shade the truth to advance there own agendas.nnAccording to this paper there weren’t 20,000 people at Short Beach a few weeks ago.nnPoliticians are especially prone to lies. nnLike the senator who claimed to fight in Viet Nam. Or the drunken senator that killed a young woman when he drove an Oldsmobile off a wooden bridge in Chappaquiddick, MA.nnI haven’t seen anyone claim that the three budgets vetoed by John Harkins are simply based on ‘perspective’ not facts. Where does that information come from?nnThere is a fundamental clash between the patronage budgets that have increased in every year of the Harkins’ administration and what has occurred in other CT towns. Like Shelton, for example.

          • The Real Facts

            Have you attended any of the council meetings since May 8, 2017? If not, watch the video’s and you will see how many times the “passed” budget had to be revised because the numbers were not and are still not correct. The six that voted for the budget state that they talked to no one from the administration and didn’t want to have the public budget review meetings. Why was that? So the public is not privy to the true facts and all the public hears is the views of the six but never have they shown facts to back up their budget. All they have stated is we “believe” the numbers are lower. That is their “perspective” – no facts. It’s easy to say this is what is should be. The State and Federal Government taxes should be lower. How come they aren’t lowered by the Governor and past President (will see what happens with the current President).nShow your proof that the newspapers are not correct about the Mayor’s residency. Do you have any or are you only basing this on the six’s rumors. Which also has no facts. Where does Kadeem live? He hasn’t been living in his districts for over 9 months. Are you complaining about that? No. If you are going to challenge one individual then challenge all.nDo you not pay attention to what occurred to the Town over the years of a Town Manger government? Taking the retirement bond money and not putting into the pension fund. Leading into 2010, the Town’s pension fund was under funded between 130-150 million. The fact that Harkins bonded the pension fund and made sure these monies could not be used for anything but to fund the pension was the best thing the Town could do to keep the bond rating viable. The result was an increase to taxes to fund the bonds that needed to fund the pensions. Do you want to tell the retirees thanks for your commitment to the Town, but guess what, there is no money in the pension fund to pay you. Go get another job? This is basic business/math insight.

  • Alta Vista

    A question for the Mayor. Above, he takes credit for ending the impasse over the expansion of Sikorsky Memorial Airport to include a safety zone at the end of one runaway. (Why he claims the airport is smaller now is just uncanny!) nnBut as detailed in the press this deal was brokered by the FAA, not John Harkins. All he did was agree to it. Why does he take credit for this?nnThe Mayor’s critics are not tearing Stratford down, they are against his specific policies that many feel are harmful. nnLike all the apartment development that’s been approved. This will change Stratford forever. And a lot of people believe not for the better.nnAnd let’s note that the EPA clean-up he also takes credit for has not happened yet. And it might not. There are some in town who think it’s a lousy deal that leaves hazardous waste in Stratford.nnThis is like his similar PR about the imminent sale of the SAEP just before his second election. That didn’t pan out either once the election was over.

  • Alta Vista

    OK, let’s grant the Mayor’s supporters here all they claim. John Harkins lives in Stratford, in the most expensive home in the town and pays the absolute highest personal property taxes. So that he feels the pain of our town taxes in his own pocketbook more than any other Stratford resident.nnLet’s grant that the Mayor is the savior of Stratford, enjoys almost universal popularity in town and his only critics are 4 people who write into the Stratford Star. nnLet’s grant that a one-day music festival, paid for by the taxpayers, is the greatest thing ever to happen here in 400 years. More significant than the railway or when the town was wired for electricity. nnLet’s grant that everyone in town wants to sell off major assets like the WPCA and looks forward to 1,000 more apartments being built. More parking lots and fast food restaurants, too. Developments sure to increase the value of your home. Only 4 people disagree.nnLet’s grant that, by comparison, Mayor Lauretti of Shelton u2013 where John Harkens does not live u2013 has the intelligence and political skills of a manatee. He’s only managed to eke out a mere 26 years in office, compared to the mighty eight years of Mayor Harkins.nnIf John Harkins is everything his supporters say he is, town resident and town savior, why isn’t he building on all his success and running again for Mayor? If everyone, but 4, believes this, his re-election would be shoe-in.nnSo why isn’t the man responsible for the “best thing our town has ever done” running for public office in Stratford?

© HAN Network. All rights reserved. Stratford Star, 1000 Bridgeport Avenue, Shelton, CT 06484

Designed by WPSHOWER

Powered by WordPress