Since First Selectman Pat Llodra announced in May that she would not pursue another term in office, we have heard the drumbeat of the approaching Election Day, as it applies to that office. Electing a new first selectman is not the least of what voters will decide on November 7, when they go to the polls to determine a slate of town officials to take up where an administration honed in over eight years of service leaves off. While the makeup of the lesser offices is of great importance, it is the first selectman’s position that has attracted the most attention this political season.
The new top town officer will be held to high standards set by our current First Selectman Pat Llodra. Her leadership not only through the expected challenges of town governing, but horrific storms wrought by man and nature; her natural compassion; and her steely resolve when confronted with difficult decisions has set the bar high. Newtown residents have great expectations for the person who will take her seat at the table.
We have before us a slate of three candidates for the town’s highest office. Republican Will Rodgers, selectman for the past eight years, former Legislative Council chair, retired Marine corporal, and attorney, hopes to continue the policies and actions that he believes have kept our town fiscally sound these past several years. Mr Rodgers brings years of experience, and a steady hand to this land of steady habits.
Dan Rosenthal, a Democrat, comes from local political lineage, his father, Herb Rosenthal, having served five terms as our first selectman, and his grandfather, the late Jack Rosenthal, having led Newtown for six terms. Mr Rosenthal is a police commissioner, former member of the Legislative Council and former P&Z alternate, and boasts a strong financial and marketing background. He is director of the Newtown Rotary Club, and active with the DTC and Recovery and Resiliency Board. The native Newtown resident is approaching the election with the belief that voters desire change in a changing world to move the town forward.
Andy Clure, a member of the Board of Education, former community center commissioner and former member of the Edmond Town Hall Board of Managers, with business experience from involvement in the family business, is in the running for first selectman as an unaffiliated candidate. He sees a need for a fresh look at how the town operates.
While the position of selectman will be determined by the second highest number of votes cast, Mr Rodgers has pegged former Legislative Council chair and current RTC chair Jeff Capeci as his running mate, doubling up the years of experience the two could bring to the office.
It is eleventh generation Newtown resident Maureen Crick Owen, a town servant wearing numerous hats, whom Mr Rosenthal named as his running mate in July.
Only Mr Clure has not proposed a fellow selectman, believing that voters will choose someone with whom he can work, should he be elected to the office of first selectman.
This year’s candidates for first selectman are men of worthy consideration, making the choice that much more challenging for voters who must determine what the town needs in leadership and who can best provide that leadership.
The quandary of the state budget hovers over every municipality in Connecticut. Newtown has taken steps to alleviate potential slashing of state revenue; that lingering uncertainty calls for a leader who can assess any damage done and take necessary steps to ensure that Newtown remains fiscally sound. A leader who is proactive rather than reactive; a leader who sees old situations with new eyes and eyes new situations with wisdom; a leader who is unafraid to challenge the status quo, but who appreciates the knowledge of those who have served and who will continue to serve on various boards and commissions — that is the leader needed at this time. Seeing Newtown with a renewed vision that respects its history is critical to pursuing a future for all of Newtown’s citizens, whether newcomers or lifelong residents, whether school child, senior citizen, young adult, or mature individuals. The ability to listen, learn, and nurture Newtown’s strong sense of community is essential for anyone who would call himself first selectman. A sensitive understanding of who we are and who we want to be is necessary for this position.
Mr Clure has a down-to-earth appeal and a vision for a Newtown government able to appease and please the majority through transparency and conversation. He is a committed Board of Education member, and at this time, the unaffiliated candidate might best serve the people of Newtown by continuing in this capacity.
Change simply for change is not what we advocate. But change rooted in where we have been and where we are going is a positive for this town. While Mr Rodgers and Mr Rosenthal both have experience and natural leadership skills invaluable to the office of first selectman, The Newtown Bee endorses Dan Rosenthal for first selectman, believing he is the person to combine those talents with the above-mentioned qualities. With a fresh but realistic outlook, he can spit shine Newtown to make it glow — and grow — in a manner that suits this New England town. Voting Ms Crick Owen into office beside him will give our town the one-two punch needed to keep the town on track, stable, and firm in what and who we are.
We wish the best to all, and may voters choose the best people for the jobs.