I am Christina Tatta, a candidate for the Wallingford Town Council. For the past 12 years, I have worked at our family’s business, Central Auto Auction, in Hamden, which is a dealer-only car auction started from an empty lot to what is now a thriving business employing 40 individuals. I have been directly involved in the years of planning, applications, and government regulations during this process of business growth.
Also in a nearby town, we are currently working on a brownfield project, taking what was formerly a neighborhood eyesore: a decrepit pornographic video store, and cleaning up the site, both environmentally and aesthetically, to put it back on the tax rolls and turn it into a business of which the neighborhood can be proud.
Being a part of these projects has shown me how the local government can hinder or encourage these endeavors. We have encountered both, and I can attest that Wallingford is a town that is known to be business-friendly.
Wallingford is lucky to have our town planner, Kacie Hand, who works with businesses to come up with plans that help them establish themselves here. I have spoken with several local business owners who said that Mrs. Hand’s guidance was a factor in them deciding to build or expand their businesses in Wallingford, rather than decide to go elsewhere.
We are also lucky to have Tim Ryan, our economic development specialist. Recently, Mr. Ryan and I went on a business tour of the town. I felt slightly embarrassed to have not known one of our industrial parks existed, but Mr. Ryan assured me that was part of the master plan of the town: keep industry in industrial parks and keep residences in residential neighborhoods. And even our industrial parks, with their open space requirements, look more like “parks” than “industry.”
Being on the Zoning Board of Appeals has taught me how to balance the needs of businesses with the regulations of the Town. My record on the ZBA shows my ability to find a compromise, so that a business can exist or expand while respecting the intent of the zoning regulations.
One of the concerns our local business owners and managers express is a lack of availability of a skilled workforce. Politically, we hear a lot about attracting young professionals to Wallingford, which is great, but we should not forget the working-class families. Wallingford is largely built on industry. Skilled technicians can earn competitive wages and receive good benefits. They are a valued part of the workforce.
In order to help Wallingford businesses that need these workers, as a Town Councilor, I would encourage government organizations and town businesses to continue the great relationship they have. We have a gem with our Board of Education’s focus on high school trades, such as the CNA program, the culinary arts program, the Hubcap Pipeline program, and other initiatives. If elected to the Town Council, I would love to be a part of that relationship to try to team up businesses with our high schools and other civic organizations, so that people who want to establish careers in trades might be able to work right in Wallingford, with a great employer, to live in town and to raise their own families here.
I’d like to close by pointing out some economic facts about Wallingford:
From January through July, we have had 36 new businesses open, and 6 business expansions.
In 2018, we had 45 new businesses open.
The average number of business expansions per year is 15-20.
The Mayor’s Business Visitation Program is a proactive approach to retain business, by openly discussing business owners’ concerns, and is well received by local businesses.
Despite losing Bristol-Myers, our highest taxpayer, we have not faced a fiscal crisis, which is a testament to our fiscal stability.
We are addressing the regional suburban issue of vacant office space by finding creative reuses of properties, such as the adaptive reuse of a vacant office building on Northrop Road to an electronics assembly business, for which I voted in favor of while on the Zoning Board of Appeals.
Wallingford has one of the lowest property tax rates in the region.
Wallingford has the least expensive electric rates in the state.
I feel that I have the background and direct experience to deal with economic issues on the Town Council. Not only is this my livelihood and upbringing, but it is my passion to see Wallingford thrive in this arena.
I am asking for your vote on November 5th. You may learn more about me at my website, www.ChristinaTatta.com.
Christina Tatta is a Republican seeking election to the Town Council.