This is the second of many articles on the Clinton Patch that will provide a closer look at the candidates running for municipal office this November.
In this series, the candidates for the office of first selectman were asked the same question: What are the top three issues/challenges you feel face the town of Clinton right now and what are your preliminary plans to address each issue?
Here is Democratic candidate Willie Fritz's response:
Before I begin, a quick thanks to Patch for creating this forum for the candidates.
As we continue to move forward as a community several issues are facing our residents: the economy, our school district and our infrastructure.
We are in the worst economic times since the great depression of the 1930s. Unemployment is at nearly 10 percent and new jobs are hard to find. Residents struggle to pay bills as costs rise and our town struggles to operate without putting an additional burden on tax payers as we contend with rising costs.
In the past six years we have become a much more efficient operation. Departments have been consolidated and staffing levels have been reduced, we have combined services with the Board of Education and surrounding towns all in an effort to reduce spending. Even in these tough times we have been able to move forward.
Through grants we have revitalized our Town Marina and Beach, begun replacement of the bulkheads along Route 1 and begun implementing portions of the downtown plan.
As for bringing business to town, that has always been a priority and several small businesses have opened up recently. I will continue to reach out to businesses and offer what is allowed for by statute as an incentive as well as working with the State to provide additional incentives.
There is no magic wand when it comes to dealing with the economy; as a town we are better off than most and will continue to stay the course.
As for our schools, we are at a huge juncture in the future of this community not just as far as education goes but also as to the commitment we will make to our young people.
At the center of this is the Morgan School. Built 60 years ago, it is a facility which has served this Town well but is in various states of disrepair and no longer is an efficient building to operate.
The Town needs to decide at future referendum whether to spend millions fixing the old car or invest in its future and build a new Morgan School.
Schools and the facilities are a huge component for drawing people to a community and we have an opportunity to give our town a shot of adrenaline, instill pride in our community and show families our commitment to them. We have great teachers and great kids and three pretty good facilities but the one we hang our hat on needs our support.
The other piece is our infrastructure which includes all Town facilities, roads and the waste water solution.
We have been working very hard for six years restoring and maintaining all of our facilities and roads to a level which hasn’t been seen in 20 years. Much of this has been done through grants and special appropriations and I plan on continuing this aggressive plan in order to preserve and improve all of our assets.
What is also critical to this is the waste water solution. Several years ago the Town decided not to discharge treated effluent into any water bodies. A good move environmentally but it creates a much more challenging solution.
The WPCC has been working very hard investigating properties for subsurface discharge, many of which either for political or other reasons were never looked at, and are close to developing a facilities plan. This is critical for future development in town as well as the health of many residents. I will continue to work closely with them and the State DEEP towards a final solution that satisfies all needs of our community.
There are many issues that face Clinton on a daily basis. Some rise to levels above others and not everyone is always in agreement as to which is more important. My job is and has been to seek resolution no matter how large or how small the issue. Again, there is no magic wand just hard work, and hard work is what keeps Clinton moving in the right direction.