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Blankley: Why I Am Running for Office in Greenwich

GREENWICH, Conn. — The following is a letter to Greenwich residents from Democratic candidate for first selectman, John Blankley:

The election for local officials is almost upon us. We candidates for office have our signs all around town, and whatever else you may think of it, for me it is the expression of a vibrant democracy.

As an immigrant in this land of immigrants, I prize the freedom to cast a vote above all the other wonders of my adopted country. Not for nothing are we described as the greatest democracy on earth, and I encourage everyone to exercise this fundamental right.

So what is at stake in this election?

Simply this - the good governance of our town. New leadership is needed to address major issues, the slow downward drift of our public schools, our failing infrastructure and the performance of our utility companies. A few months ago, I set these as my principal strategic goals, and I have made them central to my campaign.

As a business manager with 30 years’ experience managing large budgets and major projects and 10 years as an entrepreneur creating 30 jobs in my private company, I have learned to identify problems, set strategic goals, and implement solutions. I am running for first selectman to bring these skills to the leadership of our town as its new chief executive.

For me and my family, Greenwich is the most wonderful place in the world, and we can say that because in our international lives we have seen most of the rest of it. From the moment we arrived, 28 years ago, we were in love with America and with Greenwich, and we decided to stay.

These statements are in no way incompatible with the need for change. Even the best can get jaded and my business sense tells me that the status quo is not quite up to the standard that we expect in Greenwich. I intend to shake us out of a certain lethargy; I have plans on the education front (costing not much money, if any), plans to avert impending disaster on the No Child Left Behind law, new initiatives for AP, ALP and ESL; there will be immediate implementation of sidewalk and traffic calming initiatives that have been shelved for no good reason. I intend to conduct a review of major spending plans like the Central Fire Station. Our emergency plans and our relationships with the utility companies will be given new scrutiny and we will for the first time embark on true strategic planning for infrastructure renewal. I have plans for the better management of operations in Town Hall so that we, the customers of town services, are better served.

Keeping taxes low is a goal we all share and I will continue the policy of restraint that keeps increases predictable in the range of 2 percent to 4 percent. But benign neglect of our capital infrastructure cannot continue – delay always costs more in the end. It makes sound business sense to finance our infrastructure renewal, large multigenerational projects such as schools, flood control and sewer investment, with long-term financing. The alternative is the continuation of genteel decline under a frozen-in-place administration.

In summary, I want to chart a new sense of direction for Greenwich. My vision is for a town that young families want to come to because the education we offer is second to none; where our seniors wish to stay because town services for seniors are unparalleled. And in the words of the Greek proverb it will be a great society where old men plant trees whose shade they know they will never sit in. Our unique democracy affords us the opportunity every few years to hand the helm to a new leader and I ask you to do just that on Nov. 8 and give me your vote of confidence to implement my vision.

John Blankley

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