Petrucelli wants to build trust

As previously stated, we need to start by building trust between our elected officials and between elected officials and the community.

Let’s start with economic development as a way to stabilize and reduce taxes; it starts here. I will start with the formation of a five-year strategic planning committee. This committee will be comprised of representatives from small and large businesses, a representative from a nonprofit organization, an economic development professional, a representative from a local college, and of course input from our citizens. A workable plan is needed now. We need to strengthen our economic development office not decimate it. Our director must be familiar with the town, familiar with available open land, and most importantly, be familiar with the vacant buildings that are immediately available. We need a comprehensive marketing plan that shows our desire to work with our existing businesses and aggressively seek out new ones. Our message must be that “we are open for business and ready to go!”

The use of town cars is an issue, rightly so, and needs to be addressed. The next mayor will need to take a hard look into those contracts and how we can reduce our fleet expenses. It’s my belief that we have too many SUVs and we need to reduce the number of “take home cars.”

The Town Attorney’s office: I want those expenses broken down into separate line items; police, fire, Town Council, public works, EMS, town administration and Freedom of Information requests.  That will give us a better idea as to where the charges are coming from, and what measures might be put in place to reduce those numbers.

Public Works: I want to see work orders for each job, this Includes building repairs and outside services. (Tree trimming, grass cutting, etc.) It may be cheaper to replace items than continually repair the same items. I’d also like to get a handle on overtime, how much and for what. Insure that monies allocated for capital improvement projects are used for those projects. If the public works department wants to use those funds for something other than what it was intended for, then the Town Council and mayor’s approval would be required.

Attending the public forums is a must. As mayor, I need and want to hear firsthand on what our citizens are saying.

Shakespeare Theatre: We need to put out a request for proposals to finally get something started. This has gone on way too long. Put the politics aside, let’s come together and select the person or group that we think has the best chance to get it moving forward and succeed. After all isn’t getting the theater open and operating the bottom line. Just do it.

The AVCO plant: This is something that needs constant attention. We need to assign this to someone. Let them know “this is your job; do it.” This does not mean we hire additional personnel; we already have many talented people.

Once elected, I will be present on a daily basis.  I will get a better idea as to how each department functions and who is doing what. Efficiency and productivity can lead to savings, and there is always the possibility to move people around. This does not imply that people are not doing their jobs.

Our shoreline is a great natural resource and in my opinion, underused. I will be giving my ideas in more detail on how to utilize it in the coming months. An investment in our shoreline will reap great rewards.

The Transit-Oriented Development district, if implemented properly, can be an asset to Stratford. Whatever is decided has to blend in with the neighborhoods and not stand out like a sore thumb or create a traffic nightmare. Stratford Center is already a traffic problem, and parking is difficult for businesses in that area. I don’t have the answer or a quick fix, but I will take a good hard look on how to minimize those problems.  

The one thing I found to be very successful with employees, and I have done it in the past, is to form employee groups focusing on how we can do things more efficiently. The focus is to become more efficient and get work done more efficiently. One of our strongest assets in town is our employees that are on the front lines every day. They are not our enemy. They are a resource.

We need to provide relief to our some of our senior population based on their age and financial situation. Ability to pay. Years ago, we froze some seniors’ taxes. My mom was one of those that had her taxes frozen and it worked well for her.  

I have more ideas as we move forward that I will be sharing with you and the citizens of Stratford. I like the idea about bringing more family activities to town such as the First Night on New Year’s Eve. Even include a ball drop like Norwalk started.

I do not have all the answers. What I do have is a strong commitment to Stratford. My sons and I all went to Eli Whitney School and graduated from Bunnell High School. I have spent 60 years of my life in Stratford and I want nothing else but to see our town prosper and grow. I cannot do it alone.  We are stronger when we work together.

Len Petruccelli is a Democratic candidate for mayor.

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