Good Neighbors, Good Government

By Alex J. Harris

After eight months of intense vetting, last week Ridgefield Democrats nominated a broad, diverse, and exceptionally qualified slate for local election. The large pool of conscientious townspeople eager to serve Ridgefield enabled Democrats to balance strengths for every board: proven experience and innovative new perspectives, subject-matter expertise and local knowledge, passion and pragmatism, visionary leadership and efficient, effective management. We nominated ordinary Ridgefielders (quite likely at least one Democratic candidate is your own very good neighbor) willing to exert extraordinary effort to better our town. Each candidate is dedicated to the quintessential Democratic ethic of “PRESERVE, REFORM, ENHANCE”: preserve Ridgefield’s unique character, reform what’s broken, enhance the rest.

Over the last two decades and ten elections, Democrats won majorities on the Board of Selectmen (BOS) and Board of Finance (BOF). Those Democratic majorities subsequently created or amplified many strengths for which Ridgefield is now justly renowned. Thus, Democrats nominated Ridgefield’s unparalleled First Selectman Rudy Marconi, beloved Selectwoman Barbara Manners, transformative Treasurer Molly McGeehin, and masterful Board of Finance Chair Dave Ulmer to anchor our team. Their proven track records balance their teammates, over two-thirds of whom are first-time candidates.

In 2019, Democrats aim to refresh our BOS and BOF majorities and to win new majorities that will enhance other boards’ transparency, accountability, and effectiveness. Building on strength, Democrats nominated Sean Connelly, a champion of sound judgment and prudent priorities on BOF the last 3 years, to join Rudy and Barbara on BOS. Similarly, Democrats nominated accomplished professional finance executive Karen Ogden to deepen skill sets on BOF.

Democrats nominated candidates for the newly independent Inland Wetlands Board (IWB), Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA), and Planning and Zoning Commission (P&Z) in order to fix what ails Ridgefield’s planning, zoning, and local environment. Decades-long, uninterrupted Republican majorities on P&Z have coincided with unpopular development efforts, increased traffic, and zoning decisions perceived of as detrimental to residents, town character, the environment, local businesses, town finances and public services. Democrats will ensure that Ridgefield is served by three strong, independent boards that will check and balance one another for sound zoning, conservation, environmental stewardship, and sustainable use.

For IWB, Democrats nominated: Susan Baker, pioneering leader of the years-long drive to create the independent IWB; Tracey Miller, environmentalist and licensed landscape architect in private practice; Kory Salomone, attorney with expertise in sustainable water and land use; and David Tatge, CEO and staunch conservationist and environmentalist. For P&Z, Democrats nominated Ben Nneji (President SigmaWorks Group, expert in engineering organizational improvements), Susan Consentino (NYC commercial real estate professional), and Rob Hendrick (executive with extensive knowledge of planning/zoning best practices), each of whom is an articulate advocate for science-based, transparent, and publicly accountable planning and zoning.

Democrats similarly seek to instill more effective oversight and enhance transparency and accountability on Board of Education, Board of Assessment Appeals, and Board of Police Commissioners. Future Democratic View columns will profile the exceptional 2019 Democratic candidates for those boards.

Alex Harris is Chair of Ridgefield Democratic Town Committee, which provides this column.