Herbst talks goals for third term
Following last week’s victory at the polls, Republican First Selectman Timothy Herbst laid out goals for what will be his third two-year term as the town’s CEO.
In his office last Friday, Herbst discussed goals for sewer issues, capital projects and his take on what last Tuesday’s stunning victory for Trumbull GOP candidates means.
Herbst won by about a 70% margin over Democratic challenger Martha Jankovic-Mark. The rest of GOP slate also won in every race.
Sewer regionalization is a big priority, Herbst said, and the town is negotiating a better sewer rate. Herbst said he refuses to llow Trumbull residents to pay for facilities the town doesn’t use but regionalization is the best option because building a town plant would be cost-prohibitive.
“I think Tuesday showed that I have a pretty good pulse on the town,” Herbst said. “There is no way I will be able to sell entering into a regional authority where we assume responsibility on facilities we don’t use.”
He doesn’t think Bridgeport can properly manage its WPCA.
While criticized by the other side for not working with neighboring communities like Bridgeport, he said he has already started reaching out to another community to talk sewer regionalization.
“I’m exploring a regional authority with Startford,” Herbst said.
Another of the first selectman’s goals is creating a detailed capital plan with the town’s Board of Education.
“One thing I want to look at since this high school renovation is nearly done is an affordable capital program for the other schools in town,” Herbst said. “Dr. [Gary] Cialfi and I are on the same page with this.”
The plan would set priorities several years out for capital projects like building repairs.
Herbst would like the Town Council to look at the possibility of making the Town Council’s Public Works subcommittee the de facto building committee on any large projects like a school renovation. Currently, the Town Council appoints a building committee.
“They are answerable to the voters and need to be judicious with taxpayer money,” Herbst said of a Town Council subcommittee serving as future building committee.
Herbst said he was happy to see that members of both parties elected to the Town Council last week have construction experience or experience managing big projects.
Potential capital projects loom, he said, including creating a centralized dispatch center (see story on page 1A for more) and looking at a new senior center location.
If the Town Charter is reopened soon, Herbst would like it be done for specific changes or housekeeping. One change he wouldn’t mind seeing is adding a pension contribution threshold, to ensure the pensions are properly funded down the line.
Herbst said he believes last week’s win for Trumbull’s GOP shows that the Democratic Town Committee has lost touch with voters, that Democrats have lost confidence in the party and that the party has been “hijacked by a handful of malcontents.”
Under the town’s redistricting, from seven to four districts, minority representation on the board went from seven to four seats on the Town Council. With the GOP sweeping into 17 of the seats, only four Democrats will serve.
Herbst defended redistricting, saying it was long overdue and approached in the same way state redistricting is approached.
Last Tuesday, Democrats said they were proud of a clean campaign, criticizing the GOP’s attack mailers sent out just before the election.
Herbst defended the mailers, saying that he will “punch back” when attacked and believes candidates should answer to their records.
“No one has gotten it worse than me in the mailbox,” he said. “Maybe there can be a mutual commitment where both sides say ‘ceasefire.’”
He criticized mailers sent out by the other side this election season claiming Republican candidates support high-density housing in certain areas of town, which he said was not backed up by any fact.
“For the most part, I am proud of my campaign,” he said.
While the first selectman is proud of his team, he admitted to voting for a few candidates on the Democratic ticket who he believe have the best interest of the town in mind. One was Board of Education incumbent Rosemary Seaman, who won re-election, and another was Town Council candidate James Meisner, who did not win.
“I voted for candidates I believe have crossed party lines to vote their conscience,” he said.
As far as the roughly 2,788 voters who didn’t choose Herbst for re-election: “I have a job to do in the next two years to bring them into the fold,” he said.