By Vinny Cervoni
Since my first run in 2007, every odd year has been an election year. These days, when people ask me how things are going, I respond, “it’s an odd year.” When people ask me how the campaign is going, I respond, “I feel like I have to filter out the noise.”
Wallingford is a great town, despite the myths which are perpetuated during every election season. The greatest myth is the lack of technology in town. I’ve read recently that one candidate has represented or made reference to a lack of internet access at the police department as well as department heads sharing email addresses. It has been for many years that the police department has had internet access within the building, for the use of officers and the police administration. I’m certainly aware of email addresses for each of the departments in town.
In the recent past, the council funded technology and communication improvements, specifically to improve communication capabilities among the public safety divisions as well as the school system. This new communication system eliminates the parallel radio systems used by Police and Fire. In addition to allowing the Police and Fire departments to communicate directly, the school system will also be able to communicate directly with the public safety divisions during crucial times. I think we would all agree that this $5.9million technology upgrade is well worth the cost.
I read another representation that the current administration did nothing until the last minute to address the phosphorus mitigation requirements imposed by state and federal government upon our sewage treatment plant. This is simply not true. Several years ago, when the phosphorus issue was first presented to the town and Public Utilities Commission (PUC), both, the PUC and the town council approved more than one round of funding for lobbyists, hired collaboratively by all towns with sewage treatment plants along the Quinnipiac River, to attempt to change the regulatory requirement, and reduce the level of mitigation required. Reducing the amount of phosphorus to be removed by several parts per million, could have saved millions of dollars for the Sewer Division and its rate payers. When that battle didn’t produce fruit, the administration and PUC timely submitted an application for public funding (low interest loans) to go ahead with the improvements necessary to the plant.
I read recently that the mayor sold our electric plant. I’m glad no one was around to see my facial expressions when I read that. Several decades ago, the Wallingford Electric Division’s Pierce Plant had reached its obsolescence, and was no longer operating. At that time, the administration with the PUC reached an agreement (approved by the then sitting town council) whereby the Connecticut Municipal Electric Energy Cooperative (CMEEC) refurbished the power plant and took over running it. In exchange, CMEEC makes lease payments to the PUC. This collaboration between the Wallingford PUC and CMEEC turned a non-performing property into one that produces income for the Electric Division and contributes to the matrix that keeps our electric rates low.
The current administration doesn’t plan for the future? In all of the ten budgets I’ve worked on, there is a six-year capital improvement plan in the budget. Municipal government’s greatest historical and present function is dealing with infrastructure maintenance and improvement. To say that this town isn’t looking to the future ignores what is done on a regular basis, whether in the mayor’s office, the police and fire departments, or the Economic Development Commission.
Several years ago, I was approached by a North Main Street resident who was concerned about the future of trick or treating on that street. The North Main Street residents have a friendly Halloween decorating competition that goes back quite some time. The result is that floods of children are brought to North Main Street, more and more each year, to trick or treat in the haunted neighborhood it becomes. Dean Brenner contacted me to say that, while he enjoys the volume of costumed children who ring his doorbell after dark on every October 31st, he had a growing concerned that the number of pedestrians on the heavily-traveled North Main Street were approaching a volume that could present a real safety issue, especially in light of the speed at which cars often travel on that street. I arranged for Dean and me to meet with Police Chief Wright who shared our concern and came up with a plan to close North Main Street from a four-way-stop intersection, up to and including Dutton Park. This is a town where people meet with local officials and have conversations that result in solutions to problems.
Please, join me in filtering out the noise. On November 5th, please, vote for me and the entire Republican team so that we can continue to take good care of the people of Wallingford.
Republican Vinny Cervoni, Wallingford Town Council chairman, is seeking-re-election.