GREENWICH, Conn. When John Blankley, Democratic candidate for first selectman, first moved to Greenwich from the United Kingdom in 1983, he said, Everything was perfect."
As Ive become more involved in public life, Ive become aware that things havent been going right. Weve lost strategic focus, said Blankley. I have a lot of skills in terms of my business background. It seems to me there are skills I can bring to bear to get us to refocus on what we ought to be doing in town.
Blankley, a four-year veteran of the Representative Town Meeting, said he became more active in town politics last year in response to moves by the legislative body to reduce property taxes.
The result of this would have been to significantly reduce town services and spending on public schools, said Blankley. It seems to me in this town that has some of the lowest taxes of municipalities within miles, and very little debt by comparison, that cutting back on town services makes no sense whatsoever.
Blankley became a citizen, along with his wife, Vera, and three grown children in the late 1990s. According to his biography on the towns website, he formerly worked as a chartered accountant with PriceWaterhouse, before serving as the chief financial officer of BP North America. Blankley then joined the shipping industry and served as executive vice president and chief financial officer of Stolt-Nielsen, a chemical tanker company formerly based in Greenwich. Today, he is the principal of Flagship Networks Inc., a Greenwich-based information technology company. Throughout his campaign, Blankley has compared running the town to running a business.
You could call Greenwich, a medium-size business. The voters are both shareholders and customers and you have to treat them both appropriately, by being transparent and having good communication, he said. When I go door-to-door every day, as part of campaigning, almost everybody just welcomes the fact that someone is turning up at their door and is prepared to listen.
As a Democratic candidate, Blankley said he knows, historically, the odds are not in his favor. In the past 35 years, only two Democrats have won the office of first selectman. This is obviously a Republican town, and it's been dominate in its greatest political bodies, said Blankley. I think the place needs a bit of a shake, and I propose to do that.
On Nov. 8, Greenwich residents will choose the towns next first selectman. Blankley and First Selectman Peter Tesei will debate the issues at 7 p.m. Thursday at Eastern Middle School.
The Daily Greenwich will be bringing major town issues to the first selectman candidates in the few weeks left until the November election. Tell us what you would like to know by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
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