By Tom Laffin
I want all of us to exercise leadership. Leadership is influence.
Leadership is not bestowed upon anyone, nor is it taken or assumed. True leadership is measured by how much influence we earn with our peers and how we choose to exercise it. Anyone can make demands and try to control everything, but a true leader influences those around them.
A true leader influences the processes, the people, and the resolutions not by controlling them or doing all the work themselves. It is arrogant to believe that one person has all the answers, that one person's belief system should be a mandate for all.
Look, I am not foolish enough to believe I have every answer, or that I am smarter than everyone else who sits at that large table in the Robert F. Parisi Town Council Chambers. What we experience there, in those chambers, is an exchange of ideas, where Republicans and Democrats come together to find a common ground and govern the way our town needs by finding consensus — not controversy and drama for the sake of i t... not #wallingfordproblems. When we move together like that, success takes care of itself and all of us in Wallingford win.
I want to continue to be a part of that. I have been humbled time and time again during the past 17 years of my public service to my hometown, 8 of which have been serving on the Town Council, and 6 of those years as Vice Chair. But even after all of that time, and people telling me I do not look old enough to be there at all, there is still work to be done.
You have all seen my children grow over the years in the various campaign ads, Facebook posts, school events, and on the soccer field. I have seen your children, and grandchildren, and friends and neighbors grow, too. But our people were not the only thing growing and prospering all that time — our town was, too.
Our large town continues to prosper in the sea of uncertainty that flushes down from Hartford, yet here we still stand, one of the strongest municipalities in the state, and certainly one of the most solvent. We have the lowest and most consistent taxes in the area. Businesses look to come and grow here in Wallingford. Our students learn. Our teams win and lose, and we are all there to cheer them on regardless. We have a thriving and still growing downtown that balances small town neighborhood with bustling business, while our busy Route 5 corridor hosts a large myriad of commercial success and access to a variety of goods and services. All the while we pay less to turn on our lights and air conditioners. Somehow we juggle, balance and manage it all.
Do we have every bell and whistle? No. But do we need them? No. As a town, we do our best to live within our means, as you and I do in our own homes. Yet, some of us struggle to pay for medicine, heat or rent. Neighbors struggle to overcome addictions they cannot see past. Some go off to work every day, while others look for a job to go off to. So what are we going to do about it?
We are going to lead each other and it is going to take all of us.
So while this town teaches my son to build a robot to move a ball, coaches my daughter to kick one into a goal, directs your grandson to belt out the closing notes of a town play, or helps your niece battle an addiction she cannot defeat alone, we need to lead. We are going to lead because we can do it better. We all need to influence the direction of our town, and it’s continued success.
We are going to keep being Wallingford. We are going to have two high schools. We are going to build a new pool. We are going to encourage businesses to come to town that fit our community’s needs and ideals, while saying ‘no thank you’ to ones that destroy our neighborhoods and homes, whether they are trafficking loud trucks or addictive and harmful habits to our children. We are going to keep adding better parking, more police officers, and more money as a government, a community, and as individuals to all of the organizations in town that complete us, the ones that help our neighbors pay for their heat, combat their addictive behaviors and infuse our community with culture and education.
That’s what I want, anyway. What about you?
I would be further humbled by your continued support and vote on November 5th. For more information, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit my website www.voteinlaffin.com.
Republican Tom Laffin is seeking re-election to the Wallingford Town Council.