KILLINGWORTH – With no candidate to replace long-time Democratic First Selectwoman Cathy Iino, Killingworth Democrats are pinning their hopes on Jamie Young to win a seat on the Board of Selectmen, and join Lou Annino, Jr., to maintain their 2-1 Democratic majority on the board.
In an interview with CT Examiner, Young explained that – despite a fresh partisan battle over whether Republican Selectwoman Eileen Blewett can keep her seats on both the Board of Selectman and the Region 17 School Board – she sees Killingworth is a bipartisan town, where neighbors working with neighbors prevail over party lines.
Along with the first selectman position, there are two more open seats on the Board of Selectmen. Both incumbents are running – the Democrat Annino and Republican Blewett – along with the Democrat Young and Republican Graig Judge. John Psenicnik is running for the Killingworth Conservative Party.
Blewett speaks optimistically about working with the Republican candidate for First Selectwoman Nancy Gorski if both are elected, and says there is a lot of overlap between Gorski’s platform and the Democratic priorities for Killingworth.
Working as a mediator, Young said her job is to work across lines on difficult topics to bring people together. And that is the approach she said she and Annino would want to bring to the Board of Selectmen if Gorski is elected.
“Together, Lou and I could work with Nancy and get what’s right for the town done, because the three of us, our personalities are all moderate,” Young said. “I think we’d complement each other, and we’d be able to work together to take care of the town.”
Young said the influx of federal money from COVID relief bills is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the town, but it still needs to be “very deliberate” about how it spends that money. Spending it in a way that could leave it on the hook for more costs in the future after the initial burst of money runs out – like new town positions – could be dangerous, she said.
“I think, all too often, we get money and everybody wants to give raises and create new programs without really thinking about the long-term sustainability of that,” Young said. “Often, we’re dealing with not having enough money. But having too much at one time can sometimes cause a problem in the long run.”
Young said she expected the new first selectman to set the framework for how the town is going to deal with the federal money, and that different groups would bring in requests for how the money could be spent to help them. The Board of Selectmen would need to listen to those requests, and then decide what projects are the best fit for this pot of money, she said.
“Say the fire department has something they need that is going to cost over $2 million,” Young said. “It could be an important project, but that doesn’t necessarily mean we should use this money for it. It might be better to use bond money.”
Along with figuring out how to spend the influx of federal cash, Young said she thinks there is a need for better access to alternative housing and public transportation in Killingworth – something that’s been a topic of discussion in town for years, but hasn’t been realized.
She said she’s also concerned about how the town manages the influx of traffic, particularly on Route 81, which is often used as a direct route to the shoreline. Young said she’s noticed an increase in traffic on the major highways, and in the speed of traffic, and that the town will need to work with DOT to find the right way to address those concerns, while also not taking away traffic from local businesses.
She said she also expects the town will have to grapple with a major looming question that is outside of it’s control – how the town will handle its trash after the MIRA trash-burning plant in Hartford shuts down.
“People don’t like to talk about it, but if we don’t think about how we are going to address waste disposal in our town, it’s going to end up being costly if we don’t plan for it,” Young said. “Of course, the state has to come up with a plan as well.”