There's little more than two weeks before municipal elections. A former Danbury City Councilman challenging the incumbent seeking a 7th term as Mayor.
Republican incumbent Mayor Mark Boughton says one of his goals is working to finish the expansions on the schools, and open a third middle school. He says that's a big undertaking for the City with two sub-academies, one for international students and one from Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math studies. Boughton attributed a vibrant and robust school system to increasing home values.
Democratic challenger Paul McAllister is a native Danburian who served on the City Council, is a former Ridgefield Police officer and now works as a security guard at Henry Abbott Tech. McAllister says there are changes that need to be made. McAllister says people are asking about infrastructure, complaining that roads haven't been worked on. He says looking around, things are being left undone and said the job of Mayor is all about the details.
Boughton says school security has already been budgeted for, but he still anticipates a tough spring budget cycle.
McAllister says Boughton had a chance to hire a dozen firefighters with a $2 million grant, but the money was returned because the members weren't hired. This August he said 14 firefighters were hired at a full cost to City taxpayers. McAllister says the police department hasn't been up to full staff. He called that a quality of life issue.
McAllister says there's another quality of life issue. He took a walk down Main Street one night and two people were out panhandling. He says there needs to be a police presence. As someone who's walked a beat, he's learned it can be a psychological benefit.
Boughton says City services do well to serve people with catastrophic illness, loses their house or has an employment issue. Police and the Unified Neighborhood Inspection Team are downtown, but he says supportive housing with services is needed to get people off the street. A consultant has been hired to manage that part of the population. Boughton says surrounding communities, including those in New York state, have to have a shelter and provide services as well.
McAllister says he's not a businessman but believes there are things that can be tried to rejuvenate downtown. He says he would consult with others with a business sense on how best to revitalize the area. He knows that nothing changes over night, but will look at what can be modified and changed in the budget to make improvements. If something is not working properly, change needs to be made.
Boughton says the Metro North improvements on the Danbury Branch will be a good thing for the City. He says an updated signal system is something that's been long needed. One of the reasons the Kennedy Place property is intriguing for developers, is it's location near the rail station. He anticipates construction there within 18 months.
The candidates were both asked about a few regional issues, including Candlewood Lake. Boughton says the towns that surround Candlewood have a unified in the approach to management, which includes the annual problem of milfoil and long-term plans for water quality. McAllister says a regional approach needs to be taken to protect the water quality. He says one step is to identify where phosphates are coming from and how they are getting into the water.
Another issue is emergency management and response to major storms. McAllister says there needs to be better communication with the power company to recover from massive storms. He says someone in Hartford or in another country, if jobs are outsourced, don't understand the problem as if they were right in the City. Boughton says a lot of work has been done on cutting trees near power lines to prevent some of the power problems associated with storms. He says the City continues to work with CL&P, but the emergency management center is top notch.
There's also a unique situation in Danbury's municipal election, a potential run for Governor by one of the candidates. Boughton says residents have been supportive as he explores a run for Governor, but he notes that Danbury is his first priority. He says he will make a decision about 2014 around January. But McAllister says he and other believe Boughton is more interested in running for Governor than for Mayor.