> About Us > Where We Stand

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 platform:

Business Goals & Objectives

Promote a growing local economy.  We value the jobs and economic strength that a broad range of businesses brings to our town:

  • Retail stores and professional services in our village centers
  • Home-based businesses
  • Local artists and arts organizations
  • Farmers
  • Non-profit organizations
  • Public and private education
  • Inns and restaurants

We 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.

 

Communications Infrastructure

We 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 Washington’s citizenry.
  • 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 in Washington.

 

Open Government and Ethics

Accountability 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.

The 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.

All 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.

The 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.

All 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.

The 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, etc.).

 

Housing

The 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.

To achieve this goal, our Town should encourage a diversity of quality housing opportunities – be it home ownership, condominium, rental, affordable housing or assisted living.

We 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.

We believe that the Town’s 2013 Plan of Conservation and Development should place significant emphasis on expanding the range of housing alternatives currently available.

 

Quality Public Education

Washington Democrats believe that public education is a cornerstone of democracy that deserves to be supported by all citizens.

We 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.

We 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.

 

Environmental Conservation

Washington 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.
  • Land. 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.

 

Fiscal Responsibility

We 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 fees;
  • 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 municipal services;
  • 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 student population.

Encourage Volunteerism

Volunteer 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 are shared.

Volunteers 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.
HOME | About Us | Government | Get Involved | New & Issues! | Events | Vote | Resources | Contact Us