Where We Stand
The Washington Democratic Town
Committee (WDTC) is committed to the Washington community and all of its
citizens. There will be many important
issues facing our Town over the next several years. How we resolve those issues—indeed, whether we resolve them—will affect the landscape, economics and
composition of Washington for years to come.
For the next two years, the WDTC proposes and supports the following
Goals & Objectives
a growing local economy. We
value the jobs and economic strength that a broad range of businesses brings to
- Retail stores and professional
services in our village centers
- Home-based businesses
- Local artists and arts
- Non-profit organizations
- Public and private education
- Inns and restaurants
encourage the creation of new business opportunities.
Build a business-friendly municipal partnership. Town
government must support the growth of new and existing businesses in the village
centers of the Depot, Woodville, Marbledale and New Preston. To create a more robust business climate,
much needed enhancements should be made to parking, auto and pedestrian traffic,
lighting and signage. We will partner
with the Washington Business Association to identify what’s working well and to
address unmet needs.
Buy local. We
urge all citizens to heed the initiative of the Washington Business
Association and buy from local businesses and growers. When we purchase locally, a much greater
portion of our expenditures cycles back through the local economy. Goods purchased out of Town or on the
Internet return little or no value to the local economy.
Attract green high-tech business. We
support enhancement of the Town’s technology infrastructure. We seek new business opportunities that may
emerge from the introduction of fiber-optic, satellite and wireless service.
support the following measures:
- Upgrading of Town Hall
infrastructure to include networking and WiFi communications capability,
along with better audio-visual public access in meeting rooms.
- We believe our Police, Fire,
Ambulance and Town Road Departments deserve to have state-of-the-art
communications equipment and infrastructure available to better serve
- Create smart business technology
enterprise zones located in current Washington business districts.
- Identify under-served areas in
Town, which could benefit from access to broadband availability such as
cable and DSL.
- Explore emergent wireless
transmission technologies and incorporate their feasibility in our
discussion of cell towers and the future of wireless mobile communication
Open Government and Ethics
and openness are the bedrocks of Town government’s legitimacy. They insure that leaders of all levels of
Town government are accessible and responsive.
When citizens know how and why government decisions are made, voter
apathy disappears, because the electorate is truly engaged.
principle of public service must always rise above that of self interest. Appointments to Town boards and commissions
should be based on who is the most qualified candidate for the job.
hiring proposals (including even part-time summer jobs) should appear in local
newspapers and be posted on the Town web site early enough so that all
interested applicants have a chance to apply.
Town should adopt an Ethics Code. It
will set forth guidelines for all boards and commissions and prevent even the
appearance of self-dealing or conflict of interest.
meetings of the Board of Selectmen, as well as those of other Town commissions,
should be audio recorded, in addition to minutes being taken. These recordings should be available to the
public. Recordings will provide a much
fuller picture of the context, the pros and cons, surrounding individual
proposals and decisions.
Town’s web site should be updated and provisions made for future uses to benefit
public access (upload recordings of meetings, live webcast of Town meetings,
unique character of our Town depends on maintaining a diverse citizenry. We risk becoming a gated community unless we
can insure that
- Our teachers, fire and ambulance
volunteers and business employees can afford to live here.
- The children of people who built
our community have an opportunity to continue living in their hometown.
- Seniors who no longer wish to stay
in their large family homes can remain here by securing more
manageable alternate housing.
achieve this goal, our Town should encourage a diversity of quality housing
opportunities – be it home ownership, condominium, rental, affordable housing
or assisted living.
support policies and programs that will provide all Washingtonians with the
opportunity to live here and work towards our common benefit. We endorse the use of the Town’s housing
fund, as well as efforts by the Washington Community Housing Trust and the
Housing Commission, which further this goal.
believe that the Town’s 2013 Plan of Conservation and Development should place
significant emphasis on expanding the range of housing alternatives currently
Quality Public Education
Democrats believe that public education is a cornerstone of democracy that
deserves to be supported by all citizens.
believe Washington Primary and Shepaug Regional High School have great
strengths in their faculty and academic and extracurricular programs. However, we are concerned by the declining
test scores in Middle and High School.
believe that there are multiple reasons for the steadily declining enrollment
in Region 12. Foremost among them is
the cost of housing for young middle-class families whose children would attend
our schools. This decline has huge
implications for taxpayers, students, the region’s faculty, and academic and
extracurricular programs. We must
rally public concern to address this growing problem now, while there is still
time to recover.
Democrats believe that protecting our local environment and natural resources
is essential to maintaining the health of our Town and its residents.
- Water. Maintaining the health of our lakes and rivers is of primary importance
and should be achieved by water testing and restorative measures.
Encourage responsible organic land care by homeowners, businesses, land
use trusts and municipalities, including all of the Town’s schools.
- Carbon Footprint. Recognize the reality of climate change and encourage a yearly climate-change event in conjunction with the international initiatives of
350.org. Broaden recycling and
yearly hazardous waste collection, and explain why this is important.
- Energy Audits. We
encourage home audits to reduce heating and electricity consumption and,
where possible, investments in solar panels to reduce costs.
will balance the imperative for fiscal prudence and accountability with the
Town’s need for basic services and maintaining its unique quality of life. We pledge to:
- Conduct a detailed line-by-line
budget review for each area of service;
- Solicit and respond to citizen
input at every stage of the budget process;
- Constantly seek new sources of
additional revenue from state and federal grants as well as commercial
- Cut the Town’s utility costs by
adopting new energy-saving practices;
- Seek cost savings, economies of
scale, and financial efficiency by eliminating redundant costs and
streamlining support functions among Washington’s boards, commissions and
- Control the property tax burden so
that homeowners of modest means can afford to stay in town;
- Strive to keep budget increases in
line with the annual percentage growth in the Grand List; and
- With 70 percent of our Town taxes
devoted to regional schools, we commit to working with the Boards of
Selectmen and Finance to address the rising costs per student (one of the
highest in the state), and to address the causes of the diminishing
service is the foundation of a participatory democracy. Volunteerism is a tradition in small
towns, where neighbor helps neighbor, and the tasks of maintaining a community
give back to the Town and receive personal satisfaction and public recognition
in return for their valued efforts.
The WDTC pledges
to support those who currently volunteer and to encourage more citizens to
become active in volunteering.