With less than three weeks to go before the Nov. 8 municipal election, First Selectman Dave Campbell and his potential successor, Jayme Stevenson, laid out their platform and first term achievements Wednesday in a press conference at the .
The two Republicans are running for reelection to the Board of Selectmen alongside Jerry Nielsen, with Stevenson replacing Campbell this year at the top of the ticket.
Focusing largely on their signature facilities shuffle — from the Board of Finance the night before — Stevenson and Campbell reiterated the argument that the proposal is fiscally responsible and ideal for Darien residents.
"I believe the impact to the taxpayer is manageable and will bring much needed space and desired services to our entire community, which will likely reflect well on our property values," Stevenson said.
Stevenson added that she was "not willing to accept the blanket statement that we shouldn't do this because people might move away."
"Several people have commented that the seniors in our community move away ... and I pose the question of, why is that? Why do they move out of Darien?" she said. "I might argue that ... we don't have the right kind of housing for them to downsize into, and perhaps we are lacking in certain amenities that older people might appreciate in the type of community they wish to stay in as they age."
At Campbell's request, the Representative Town Meeting for the plan before the election.
Noting that she "strongly and categorically" disagreed with charges by Democrats that the current administration had been fiscally irresponsible, Stevenson pledged to "rely on my value-investing principles to guide everyday decisions that will impact Darien's future for years to come."
She added that having "people in the administration with business experience" had been "a real benefit to the town."
"We've been able to achieve these accomplishments in much shorter time horizons than would traditionally happen under a typical government bureaucratic schedule. And while for some it's a little unsettling — they feel that it's too quick — time is money, both in real dollars and human capital," Stevenson said.
"We can't lose focus in this election on what we have already done for this town," Campbell said. "We got this town a moratorium, when it could have been gotten any time in the last seven years. We got the town fireworks, which they hadn't had in nine years. We got the town a cleaner spring pickup with creative thinking. Our budget this year — the Board of Selectmen side of the budget — is less than it was four years ago."
Campbell said he expects to see "a very gradual increase on the town side" operating budget but noted that the Board of Finance had worked to keep Darien's debt level low and fund balance high compared to other towns in the area.
The candidates also talked at length about flood mitigation, a perennial concern in town. Stevenson said she was proud that the current administration to construct a detention basin in Baker Woods.
"In my opinion, that project was not only ill-conceived, but there were unintended consequences in that project that were never analyzed," Stevenson said.
"It's a trade-off. You have to weigh tax dollars versus what you're getting, the results. And this was a case where the trade-off didn't make any sense financially," Campbell said.
Instead, Stevenson said, "we will and are moving forward on recommendations from the professionals who have studied our watersheds," including more regular cleanings and maintenance of catchbasins across town.
"We'll continue to do what makes sense from a long-term value perspective," she added.
Stevenson, Democratic first selectmen candidate John Lundeen, and Ultra-Conservative Party candidate Chris Noe are set to meet in two debates next week.
The first, the ’ Candidates’ Night, is set for Tuesday from 6 to 9 p.m. in the auditorium (with selectman and first selectman candidates debating from 7:30 to 9:00 p.m.). The second, a media-moderated roundtable, is scheduled for 11:30 a.m. Thursday at the .
Campbell, Nielsen, and Democratic selectman candidates David Bayne and Vickie Riccardo are also set to participate in the LWV event.
The Republicans' full platform is available here. For a look at the Democrats' platform, .