To the Editor:
When two candidates of the personal, professional, and political stature of Bill Gerber and Christine Vitale throw their hats into the ring to lead there is almost too much to say to fit into a standard endorsement letter. In short, we are beyond fortunate that these two individuals are stepping up and willing to serve. This type of opportunity comes along rarely in one’s political lifetime.
Indeed, Bill Gerber is the type of person who normally does not run for the office of First Selectman. His education and executive experience have commanded C-suite compensation in the business world. After a successful career in global finance, he chose early retirement to spend time with his family; serve his community; and spearhead a fundraising campaign that has raised more than $1 million for childhood cancer research. He is now pledging himself to the betterment of our town, and to fixing the systematic issues and failed leadership of the current administration.
A bit of history: Bill supported our first selectwoman after the fill pile scandal was fully revealed. As a ten-year veteran of the RTM, he also vetted and helped shape her first initiative which was a costly voluntary early retirement incentive program (VERIP). He crossed party lines to be the deciding vote for the program with the caveat that the administration report to the public on the program’s progress and return on investment. To date the First Selectwoman and her staff have refused to come before town bodies and provide that report. At minimum, this is less than transparent; at its worst, it is willful obstruction, a stance that seems to have become the default position of this administration.
Now, to Penfield. Through careful analysis, Bill correctly identified that the only option we were presented for remediation of Penfield Pavilion (a presentation delayed by the administration until we were up against a FEMA deadline) was both wasteful and risky. Instead of working with elected officials charged with approval of this project, Mrs. Kupchick and her underlings abandoned all reason and efficiency. We are left with a hasty and ill-conceived proposal that puts the beach area at risk of more flooding. In fact, adequate construction insurance has still not been secured. Inexplicably, the plan is moving forward.
Other failures by this administration are quite concerning:
- missing an opportunity to secure more water rights from Aquarion
- failing to properly manage the repair of a broken digester at the sewage treatment plant
- missing a deadline to negotiate with UI over a proposal that will place permanent liens and unsightly powerlines on private and business property in Southport and Fairfield
- refusing to address an alarming lack of financial controls which have led to the abuse of town credit cards
- bungling the Charter revision process by insisting on one omnibus up or down question that failed
- continuing to violate the existing Charter with regard to qualifications for town employees and residence requirements
When asked about these shortcomings, Mrs. Kupchick repeatedly invokes the “fill pile” scandal; however, she seems entirely uninterested or unwilling to fix the underlying problems that led to the scandal in the first place. It’s time for someone with the financial acumen, personal qualities, and C-suite experience of Bill Gerber to take the helm in Fairfield. As evidenced by his recent work authoring and working to pass the Safe and Livable Streets ordinance, Bill is a leader who gets the job done.
But he can’t do it alone. Bill has chosen the ideal running mate in Christine Vitale, six-year member of the Board of Ed, four of which were spent as Chair. Christine’s many years of expertise crafting budgets and making continuous improvements to our schools is exactly what Fairfield needs to safeguard our biggest investment. Our schools are the foundation of property values; the reason young families move here; and the largest part of our town budget. And yet, despite Brenda Kupchick’s tenure on the BOE (during which time budget increases were proportionately higher), her administration has cut or attempted to cut the education budget every year. This shortchanging of our schools must stop, and we need to commit to providing the best education possible for the children of Fairfield. And that means Bill Gerber and Christine Vitale.
Bill and Christine are collaborative, bipartisan, and thoughtful in their approach to governance and leadership. Fairfield needs to get back on track, and this exceptional team has a vision for our future and a determination to lead us there.
Please join me in electing Bill Gerber and Christine Vitale on November 7th.
Zezima is a Fairfield RTM Representative in District 4 and the Fairfield RTM Democratic Majority Leader