Full Text of Vicki Tesoro’s acceptance speech
I want to thank everyone for coming tonight.
I also want to thank Lisa Labella, Ashley Gaudiano, and Gail Ritacco who put this event together. Also thank you to Dawn Cantafio, Kate Donahue and Gail Ayotte for all of their help.
I want to thank Tom Kelly, the Chairman of our Democratic Town Committee for his leadership and of course Nancy Dinardo for all she has done for our town and our state.
Special thanks to the candidates who will be part of our team this year.
A very special thank you to Jason Marsh and Mary Beth Thornton for their words of support this evening and for their never ending assistance and encouragement to me and our entire caucus as the leaders of the Town Council.
And of course my love and constant appreciation to my family, my daughters Laura and Melissa and my soon to be son-in-law Anthony.
And last but not least my husband and house comedian and joker, Tom. He has to be to put up with me and all that comes with that! He’s my greatest supporter, teacher and advisor.
As I look at the crowd and the candidates we have assembled, I am humbled by the support and the love I feel in this room. There are familiar faces and there are new faces. There are Democrats, Unaffiliated Citizens and former Republicans.
We all share a common belief that by working together, respecting one another and seeing differences as opportunities instead of obstacles that we can achieve great things for Trumbull.
We also share a core belief that while doing the right thing is essential, equally essential is that we do the right thing the right way.
My administration has done the right thing the right way and I am proud of that and we will continue to do so.
I am pleased to say that the tone of this town has dramatically changed for the better. The eight years of drama, bluster and political nonsense have been replaced with civility and common sense.
We did that. We did that together.
This election is about, among other things, whether we will return to the petty partisan politics of the 8 years that preceded my administration. Or, whether together, we can build upon our success, in having our politics reflect the best instincts of our community.
Our Citizens want civility, compromise and common sense. We have given that to them and we will continue to do so.
I pledge here tonight, that no matter what our opponent does, we will remain positive, issue oriented and focused on the future.
Our campaign will make everyone associated with it proud to be part of our team. We will make our Community proud by our actions. Why? Because we believe that by putting aside petty politics and working together we can achieve great things.
That is what we believe.
That is who we are.
That is what we have done.
And that is what we will continue to do.
Ray Baldwin was very eloquent in reminding us of the amazing achievements of our Democratic leaders of the past.
I honor our Democratic past and the impressive achievements of people like Paul Timpanelli, Dave Wilson, and Ray Baldwin.
However, we also honor the contributions of my Republican predecessors, men and women like Ken Halaby and Morag Vance.
All of the people I mentioned continue to contribute to our Community in a positive way.
What distinguishes us from some others is our willingness to acknowledge everyone who has helped make our Town a great place to live and work.
I will continue to work hard to honor our past by continuing our efforts to make Trumbull even better for the future.
In 2017 we promised to move Trumbull in a better direction and we kept that promise.
We promised to spend smarter. We did.
We promised to change town priorities. We did.
One example. Instead of having our Town attorneys wasting their time on wasteful legal opinions, we directed our Town attorneys to spend their time doing things that create value for our community.
They set about doing the hard work to retain grants from our State that were about to expire due to the inattention of the previous administration.
Our attorneys were successful. The result is that our seniors have a new kitchen in our senior center and roads such as Moose Hill, Strobel, and Chestnut Hill will be reengineered and repaved with money from these grants.
We promised to keep taxes stable and spending in check while maintaining our commitment to education, public safety, senior citizens, and critical town-wide services.
Our opponents said we could not do it. WE DID.
And we did it better than they did.
Our budgets are clean, transparent and without the fiscal gimmicks used by my predecessor to artificially lower taxes.
We promised to take action on the vacant office space in Trumbull. WE DID
When approved projects are completed, we will have taken over 360,000 square feet of vacant or underperforming property and turned it into a vibrant part of our Community, generating significant tax revenue for the benefit of all of our citizens. And there is more to come.
Our focus on economic growth has been successful.
Over 20 new businesses have opened their doors just this year and you can see progress on White Plains Road, at the site of the former Marissa’s restaurant and both of our Corporate Parks.
There will be over 1 million dollars in grant money invested in the Long Hill Green Village District. The new turn lane on the corner of Whitney and Main is an example of what is to come.
Astute businessmen are investing in our Community because they know, like we all do, that Trumbull is the place to be.
Our opponents’ have said that Trumbull is stagnant. To them I say, open your eyes.
And there is more:
We promised to restore balance to our Boards and Commissions. WE DID.
We promised to repeal the Salary Ordinance and WE DID.
We promised to repeal ordinances that targeted individuals or that prevented qualified people from serving as volunteers on boards and commissions. WE DID.
We promised to repeal the ordinance that prevented qualified individuals from working in our Community. We DID
We promised to get the light and other safety upgrades at the Chip’s plaza moving forward. WE DID.
We promised to bring our community together. We Did.
We promised to restore a sense of community, and govern in a manner that fosters an environment of civility and bipartisanship. My administration worked across the aisle to do just that.
My opponents thought it could not be done. People believed the sides were so polarized that nothing would change.
We promised to change that climate. WE DID.
Our opponents have said we made devastating cuts to education. That is false and the kind of nonsense we came to expect from my predecessor.
We promised to keep our schools competitive. WE did. In fact we have added over $5.6 million in additional investment to our school system. Over $2 million dollars more than my predecessor did in the last 2 years he was in office!
During this year’s state budget process our projected ECS Funding was drastically reduced and it became clear that we would also be required to directly pay a portion of the State teacher pension expense.
I promised the Board of Education and the Community that should the State legislature reject these proposals in full or in part, I would recommend to the Board of Finance and the Town Council that a portion of these monies be returned to the BOE budget and the remaining funds should be used to stabilize the tax rate.
When the legislature, in fact, rejected these proposals in part, I kept both of those promises to the BOE and to our residents.
In contrast, when faced with a similar circumstance in 2017, my predecessor’s administration made a similar commitment to the BOE but then reneged on that promise.
We need to trust each other, respect one another and when we say something, follow through. We did and we will continue to do so.
We promised to give Trumbull the kind of government that reflects the best of our Town. WE DID.
Before this term is over we will continue to keep our promises:
We will bring to the Town Council a return to 7 Districts.
We will bring to the Town Council at the August meeting a proposal to make an additional pension contribution, over and above the ARC contribution, using a portion of our surplus from last year. Our Credit Rating Agency applauded this initiative.
Unfortunately, The BOF failed to approve this proposal just last week. I hope the Council will do the right thing and do what is best for the town and approve this resolution.
We have reduced the number of Town take home cars and we will continue to find opportunities to reduce more take home cars. I will submit to the Town Council at the August meeting a discussion item that contains a vehicle use policy that will serve as a roadmap for continued progress in this regard.
While we have accomplished many of the things that we promised, there is more to be done. We are not done yet and I am confident we have the team to continue the progress we have made.
We will continue to keep taxes stable and spending in check.
We will open the Charter to strengthen the referendum language for large projects, enact term limits where the law allows, return the BOE to 4 year staggered terms and eliminate the 7th seat on the BOE in order to foster cooperation and consensus. We will also clean up errors and omissions that currently exist.
We will work collaboratively with the Board of Education to have shared services with the Town. We can no longer afford to run government as usual. There is too much at stake. We must find ways to make our government leaner and more efficient.
The time to act is now! I am pleased to say that that this effort has already begun.
Our Aquatics Committee and the Senior Center/Library Committee are working hard to prepare plans and the costs associated with those plans so that our Citizens can make informed decisions on potential projects.
My ticket reflects my belief that diversity of opinion always leads to a better result. I have an amazing slate of running mates lead by Mary Markham and Anthony Musto.
I am so proud of our entire slate. Smart, experienced, independent thinkers and most of all, dedicated Town volunteers willing to step forward to bring their talents to our Town Government.
Every single one of them will be, like all of our incumbents are, a credit to our Community.
I want to say a word about Mary Beth Thornton. She has led the Council with dedication and distinction. She deserves better than a razor thin margin. With a solid majority the potential to do great things for our Community grows exponentially. Let’s see that she has that kind of majority.
The same for the Board of Education. The same for the Board of Finance. The same for all. Our team of Democrats, Unaffiliated voters and former Republicans reflects our community and they will bring passion and energy to our Government.
Let me say a few words about my opponent.
Sadly, the only communications I have seen from our opponent are filled with inaccuracies, incomplete information and unfortunately outright distortions. We have seen that kind of negative politics before. We don’t need that again.
It seems my opponent looks at this election as some kind of a game. Hence his chosen title, Coach. While being a coach is a good thing, this is not a game. Managing a town is a serious complex endeavor. It impacts every citizen of all ages in our community.
My opponent wants to politicize everything. Petty partisan politics are poison to a Community. I ask you, what does politics have to do with public safety, education and the delivery of services to our residents?
My opponent seems incapable of understanding that we all want the same thing, a safe community, stable taxes, good schools and services that meet the needs of all of our residents.
I believe we need to work together to achieve our goals. That is what I have done and that is what I will continue to do.
The First Selectman will face new challenges driven by forces outside their control. Our First Selectman must be prepared to meet these challenges.
As a decades long volunteer, two term Town Council Member, Member of the Board of Finance and now as your First Selectman with a demonstrated record of success, I am well prepared to meet these challenges.
As you all know, I have attended countless meetings of the Town Council, Board of Finance, Board of Education, Planning and Zoning Commission and so many more. I spoke up on issues of critical importance to our Town.
I did this not only as an elected official but as a Citizen volunteer. I did this not for days leading up to an election but for decades.
The First Selectman must have the demonstrated ability to listen to different points of view and have the independence to put aside political affiliation or personal relationships and stand up for what is right and stand up for our Community.
When Hartford floated the idea of school regionalization, I opposed it and I went to Hartford to testify against it. In doing so I worked with our State delegation, Republicans and Democrats alike to get the right result for Trumbull.
This year when our Community was slated to receive a disproportionate reduction of our ECS funding I met with the LT Governor and the Governor to vigorously present our case advocating on behalf of our Citizens. I rallied our Taxpayers to join me as well and many did strengthening our position.
I’m certainly not taking credit for the positive outcome, however I do believe that we can overcome adversity when we work together.
Our First Selectman must be able to lead and unite behind common goals. I have a proven record of doing just that.
My opponent does not.
My opponents’ first foray into Town Government is a sad repeat of the politics of the previous administration, divisive and negative. We have seen that before and we do not need it again.
If I must say so, it is time for the Coach to hit the showers.
I’m confident that we will win in November.
To do so however, we must raise the funds and do the work.
I know our candidates and we will not be outworked.
So let me ask you:
Do we have the best candidates?
Do we have the best Ideas?
Do we have a proven record of success?
So, will we win in November?
I proudly accept your nomination for re-election to the Office of First Selectman of Trumbull.
We are unified.
We are energized.
And we are ready.
We won together in 2017.
Together we will win again in 2019!