02 November 2007

The Reviews Are in - Bingham, Boughton, Richetteli, Murphy, Krampitz Endorsed for Reelection

Mayors Ryan Bingham of Torrington, Mark Boughton of Danbury, Patricia Murphy of New Milford, Jan Kramptiz of Plymouth and Jim Richetelli are just some of the Republicans who have won the endorsements of their local newspapers as we head into the final days of the campaign.

Republican Mayors throughout Connecticut have all been receiving good reviews from the Fourth Estate this year and there is good reason for it. Each are delivering the goods at the local level with strong leadership, a positive vision for the future and by sticking to the Republican principles of fiscal conservatism, personal accountability and safe neighborhoods.

Other Republicans seeking office have been winning endorsements, too, and the following is a reprint of that support by various editorial boards:

From the News-Tiems in Danbury

Mark Boughton for Mayor

Republican Mark Boughton was elected mayor of Danbury in 2001 and easily won re-election in 2003 and 2005. As he seeks a fourth term, he is opposed by Democrat Helena Abrantes __ who has served on the Common Council and as city clerk.

As Boughton ran for re-election two years ago, illegal immigration had become a hot topic in Danbury. He often appeared to be exploiting the issue, using inflammatory rhetoric and seeking personal publicity in the national media. He has toned down the rhetoric and stayed closer to home in the past two years.

That's a better approach. But his previous approach hurt Danbury's image outside the city and hurt the mayor's ability to foster reasonable discussions about illegal immigration within Danbury.
Illegal immigration is the result of the federal government's failure to secure the borders and enforce immigration laws in the nation's interior. It has a socio-economic impact on communities like Danbury __ an impact best handled when leaders try to solve problems rather than exploit them politically.

Boughton is a skilled politician and communicator. There is no reason for him not to get this right, unless he doesn't want to get it right. In the past two years, Boughton's skills have been on display in other areas as he has moved long-needed projects ahead. Schools have been expanded. Construction has begun on a new police headquarters. Construction has been completed on a westside firehouse. The ugly battle between Boughton and the police union over a contract has been resolved.

Abrantes questions the rightness and timing of some of these projects. That's what challengers do. For example, she is critical of the north Main Street location of the new police headquarters.

But the bottom line is that a new police headquarters was needed for decades and Boughton is the mayor who got the project to the point of construction.
Abrantes is more on target when she criticizes Boughton on the campaign fund-raising scandal that has come to sit on his doorstep. James Galante, who owns numerous trash disposal businesses based in Danbury, has been charged with violating state laws in 2003 by reimbursing friends and employees who donated to Boughton, among other candidates.

Galante is currently under house arrest in New Fairfield awaiting trial on federal racketeering charges connected to what prosecutors say was a scheme involving organized crime to limit competition.

Boughton says he did not suspect Galante might be reimbursing donors in order to get around legal limits on campaign donations. But he certainly knew that known associates of Galante, who had business dealings with the city, were funneling donations to his campaign. That's always a troubling practice.

Boughton is the better choice for mayor, given his record and his plans for the future. He has been a good mayor, for the most part. When he runs into trouble it is because of a brand of politics that doesn't serve him or the city well. If re-elected, Boughton must resolve to do better. His record shows he is capable of doing better.

From the Waterbury Republican

Torrington: Ryan J. Bingham

Two years is a mighty short time to draft a political résumé on a blank slate. No, Republican Mayor Ryan J. Bingham hasn't put downtown-revitalizing cranes in the air in Torrington, turned the school system into a national showpiece, driven out all the drug dealers and erased blight. Nor can he claim credit for everything good that has happened in Torrington since he took office in December 2005; his predecessor, Democrat Owen J. Quinn Jr., set the stage for significant progress. But Mayor Bingham, just 24, has exceeded expectations and deserves a second term.

Mayor Bingham was described in our Nov. 6, 2005, endorsement as young and engaging but unprepared. This proved true — the first city council meeting he ran was painful to witness — but he had a fast learning curve and acquired a solid grasp of the city's major issues in a matter of weeks.

The four pillars of Mayor Bingham's campaign have been public safety, economic development, education and fiscal responsibility. His administration has made progress against the major driver of crime in the city, the illicit drug trade, confiscating half a million dollars in cash as well as two houses and 26 vehicles used or owned by drug dealers.

But Democratic challenger Tim Driscoll, a former councilman, has seized on setbacks in the city's $100 downtown-redevelopment scheme, including the decision on Mayor Bingham's watch to reopen the project to bidders other than Jed Hayes, the original developer.

The reality is the project most likely would have followed this track no matter who was mayor. The downtown revitalization as conceived in the late 1990s is highly complex in terms of its financing, use of historic buildings, effect on traffic flows and recreational elements, and therefore subject to delay.

The contract with Mr. Hayes expires Dec. 31, leaving the next mayor two years to move it along. If the state picks up the pace of siting and building a new Litchfield County courthouse in Torrington, as promised, the downtown project's viability could improve.

The mayor has limited influence over public education, but this clearly must be a matter of deep concern for the next administration. Torrington High School has an unacceptably high 20 percent dropout rate, and the middle school is too big, at 1,400 students, to serve its population effectively.

Mayor Bingham and Mr. Driscoll have plans for dealing with high school students who are disruptive or who can't or won't learn. Like the downtown project, this is a pressure point for Tuesday's winner.

That winner should be Mayor Bingham, not because he brought the city out of the wilderness in two years, but because he has gained sufficient confidence and competence to accomplish great things, given the time.

From the Connecticut Post

Richetelli earns nod for 4th term

Milford is on a roll. With increasing desirability of waterfront neighborhoods and downtown, and improved quality of life across the community, the "Small City With a Big Heart" is basking in success. This hardly seems a good time to change leadership.

Mayor James L. Richetelli Jr. can take plenty of credit for the good news around town. As he seeks his fourth term in office, he has earned the support of a wide swath of the voting population, and is the choice for the endorsement from the Connecticut Post.

In a community like Milford, it's hard to convince people to make a leadership change without a compelling reason why someone else could do better. And though no city is perfect, Milford is fulfilling its promise as a destination for homeowners and visitors. Without a convincing argument to bring about change, people are likely to stick with what works. Richetelli's leadership has worked well.

The mayor's challenger, Democrat Kerri Rowland, presents a compelling vision herself. She is by far her party's strongest candidate in recent years, and is encouraged to stay active in local politics and continue to work for what's best for Milford. But her relative lack of experience gives pause. After only two years on the Board of Aldermen, she needs more work with local issues before she steps into the city's leadership role.

Similarly, her prescription for dealing with tax increases lacks specifics. Simply saying the city needs to work more efficiently without providing a way to make that happen is not good enough.

Richetelli is encouraged to pay attention to those concerns himself. Though services are better in Milford than in surrounding communities, consistent tax increases have made many residents nervous. His highest priority in his coming term should be finding a way to balance those competing goals. Judging by his record in office, it's a good bet he will continue as a strong leader for the people of Milford.

From the Waterbury Republican

In Plymouth - Jan Krampitz

We had doubts about Republican Jan A. Krampitz when she ran for mayor in 2005, noting she served in a town administration that allowed deep financial-management problems to fester. Democratic incumbent Richard G. Covello was unable to pin these and other problems on her during the campaign, and she won handily. Two years later, the town finds itself in much better financial shape and making discernible progress on a number of other fronts in public education, recreation and economic development. Mayor Krampitz, facing a challenge by Democrat Vincent Festa, has done well in her first term and is well deserving of another turn at the helm.

Barkhamsted - Richard Winn

Five-term Republican Richard Winn has a practical, realistic approach to economic development that should allow the town to grow its tax base while preserving its rural character. It makes him our choice over Democrat Donald Stein, a former selectman, and petitioning candidate George Washington to succeed First Selectman Michael D. Fox.
Beacon Falls

Democratic First Selectman Susan Ann Cable, who presented a town budget with a whopping 14.2 percent spending increase last May and pronounced it "hard to cut" after voters turned it down flat, faces yet another challenge from Republican Arthur Daigle Jr. He earns our support by offering voters a respite from the spending excesses of the Cable administration, but his plans lack detail, and he seems doomed to go down for the third time.

In Harwinton - Candace Jones-Pacholski

Two years ago, Democrat Frank J. Chiaramonte was elected first selectman on a promises of more fiscal responsibility and more open government. Since then, the tax rate has risen from 24.2 mills to 25.78 mills, and he has made it difficult for his constituents to find him in his office or tougher to catch the Board of Selectmen in session. Republican newcomer Candace Jones-Pacholski deserves a chance to prove she can do better.

In New Milford - Patricia A. Murphy

New Milford is fortunate to have three intelligent and well-qualified candidates for mayor this year. Mayor Patricia A. Murphy, who is seeking a third term, Democrat Lawrence B. Stillman and New Milford First candidate Robert C. Kostes are eager to lead the town. Each has particular strengths and positive qualities.

Kostes has rightly focused on the lack of thoroughly and promptly updating the town's Plan of Conservation and Development. It is a document that can help set the broad guidelines for desired growth and preservation, yet the Planning Commission under the present administration has dragged its feet, until recently, with the mandatory 10-year update.

Properly managing the town's growth is one of the most pressing issues that New Milford faces. A balance of industry, commerce, housing and preserved farmland must be achieved and an up-to-date guideline, plus strong leadership, is needed. Kostes' call to hire a town planner, a position that Stillman and other candidates agree with, should be heeded.

In Woodbury - Cris Schaeffer

A trio of honorable senior citizens — Republican Cris Schaefer, 70; Democrat Paul D. Hinckley, 65; and petitioning candidate Duncan McDougall, 70 — are vying for the first selectmen's seat being vacated by Republican Richard Crane.

Mr. Hinckley, a retired corporate marketing executive and selectman, didn't make many friends among Region 14 school district reconfiguration foes by voting not to allow a town meeting and referendum on the plan last spring, and fiscal conservatives couldn't have appreciated his support for a $3.4 million Taj Mahal senior center on a hill behind the town offices.

We therefore endorse Mr. Schaeffer, a retired electronics marketing manager and former Pomperaug River Watershed Coalition director, with the presumption he'll be his own man and will not feel bound to continue the policies of his predecessor.