Editor's note: Seventeen candidates are running for 9 seats on the Groton Town Council on Nov. 8. Below is a Q&A with one of the candidates.
Name: Heather Bond Somers
Family: Married, 3 children
Education: Graduate Fitch High School, bachelor's degree in Economics/English from the University of Connecticut
Work Experience: Former Electric Boat employee, Partner, Hydrofera LLC, Medical Device Manufacturer 1997 – present
Civic/Political Experience: Groton Town Council 2000-2003; chair, Economic Development Committee 2003- 2009; Public Safety, Education Committee member 2003-2009; Economic Steering Committee Member, Flanders Road Expansion Committee Chairperson; National Women’s leadership Summit, state of Connecticut delegate; United Nations Day, State of Connecticut Chairperson
Why are you running for this office? Public service is a passion of mine and my way of contributing back to my community. I grew up in Groton, was educated in its public school system and have chosen to remain in this great community to now raise my own children. I learned so much during my previous terms on the council and I believe my experience there, coupled with my business profession gives me the capacity to well serve the people of Groton.
My experience as a business owner who runs a manufacturing facility provides me a unique perspective on how to approach complex issues, create sound solutions to these issues, all while having to maintaining fiscal solvency. This real world experience would be a valuable asset to the council. I want to see Groton continue to thrive as a diverse community and help to enhance the atmosphere so families can continue to live, work and recreate here.
What do you believe is the greatest challenge Groton faces today, and what would you do to meet this challenge? Groton faces many challenges as does our nation. We will be dealing with aging schools in need of repair and upgrades with declining income and tax revenues which are needed to meet these needs. Keeping costs down, managing our budget critically while maintaining quality of life in town are difficult issues that will need to have solutions crafted carefully so balance is achieved.
I would foster more productive and proactive communication between the Board of Education and the Town Council as a means to better present resolutions to the problems we face to the public in an unified way rather than the divisive nature that was experienced last budget session.
Combining the delivery of certain services between the school departments and the town departments in the areas of finance and public works should be seriously considered.
Also I would try to provide a culture that would entice and attract new business to make the choice to come to Groton. In order to do such Groton needs a strong economic marketing plan, must be proactively in touch with current businesses, and to be able to provide manufacturers with the resources they require to satisfy their business’ requirements (i.e. sewer and water). Without such Groton will not be able to compete with other towns.
How would you rate the performance of the current board overall, and what, if anything, would you do differently? The Town Council will see the departure this year of councilors with many years of experience serving the people of Groton. I believe the Town Council works best with a great diversity of backgrounds and opinions amongst its members.
My view of public service on the council is to act as a voice and watchdog for the interests of our town’s residents and businesses, encouraging efficiency in our operations, keeping a close eye on our town’s policies and budgets, and pushing for regionalization of certain services where we can reduce spending while maintaining services by spreading the cost across multiple towns.