Three-way race for mayor's seat
By Jessica Ciparelli
A two-term incumbent mayor, an eight-year member of the town council and a petitioning candidate are all vying for the mayor's seat this election season.
Current mayor, Ellen Marmer , Councillor Jason McCoy and independent candidate James Webb Wilson make this year's election a three-way race. All three candidates were asked the same questions. Here are their responses:
Why are you running for Mayor?
(Marmer) "The same reason I began this journey - to make a difference in our community. To promote positive change in a community I am very passionate about and have been for the 38 years I have lived here. I want to move us ahead."
(McCoy) "Why? Better schools, lower taxes, safer streets. Because of closed government. We've had tax hikes, spending sprees and threats to reduce services. We need better fiscal management in town so people can afford to live here. People need to be able to participate in government, rather than the closed door government that's been going on. It comes down to choices. People should have choices."
(Webb Wilson) "So I can be mayor, so I can educate people about town government and be a part of it. We always think about infrastructure, but people are having problems, and we need to deal with them [the problems]. One thing I want to find out is how big town government is-it's the biggest employer in the town. There are 880 employees, minus volunteers. That means [it takes] over 1,000 people to run a government to support 29,000 people."
What is your vision for the town?
(Marmer) "To continue the progress we've made, to take care of our infrastructure needs, which have been long neglected and not quite complete, despite the strides that have been made in the last four years, to complete our Rockville area projects, including the third floor of town hall and to continue to work with the state to turn Citizen's Block into a music museum as well as town office space. [My vision is also] to move ahead with the Intermodal project, provided the town council is able to see the positives and not forego over $6 million in federal funds, which would be an integral part of downtown revitalization. The community does not have to listen to rhetoric on either side of the aisle, since a five-minute ride throughout town will show the wonders of what's been accomplished up to date."
(McCoy) "Part of it has to do with the revitalization of downtown Rockville . The other part of it is that we stop with the tax hikes that require us to go to referendum. With this mayor, we've had 16 referendums over the [past] four years. She [Marmer] can't pass a budget because of exorbitant increases and tax hikes. We've got to move things on an even keel. Part of the vision has to do with making the town affordable for people and [also] attracting developers to redevelop [the downtown area]."
(Webb Wilson) "I think the whole town seems to be low on vision. Everything, when proposed, ends up [getting] cut back. We have to get the whole town working together."
What challenges does the town face in the future, and how would you confront those challenges?
(Marmer) "The challenges are unquestionably the tax situation in order to accomplish our day-to-day needs. I have joined 'COST' [Connecticut Council of Small Towns, a group formed for towns of less than 30,000 residents] in order to promote a statewide effort to relieve local municipalities of unfunded state mandates and related programs, including utility costs, which are impaling all of us. Towns east of the river have become a 'Rodney Dangerfield'-we get no respect - and we need to change that appreciation. I am dedicated to fairness for all of our citizens and will continue to fight for us at a state level. Many towns east of the river are upset with our lack of voice at a state level."
(McCoy) "The issue is how to bring in [non-taxed property] tax revenue, which is probably one of the biggest challenges in the town. That's the biggest issue on the local level and being able to [continue] to provide services. We need to control spending in the area of our needs, and when we have surpluses, we need to put them to better use."
(Webb Wilson) "The challenges I was looking at were human needs. There's a lot of alcoholism, gambling and 12-step programs. They really affect families. We need to put more support into those. We do have a fairly good social services department, but it always takes a while to point people in the right direction. The longer it goes on, the worse it gets."