Trumbull's Tesoro seeks third term

TRUMBULL — Three major building projects, enhanced education and emergency response departments, and a low tax rate were the highlights of an ambitious agenda laid out by First Selectman Vicki Tesoro Monday night as she announced her candidacy for a third term in office.

Tesoro, a Democrat, said the town has made strides in the previous four years, but there is still work to do.

“We have unfinished business and we have the team to get it done,” Tesoro said while joined by Treasurer Anthony Musto and Town Clerk Mary Markham, who are also seeking re-election. “We have a great team who have earned another term.”

Tesoro dedicated the bulk of her announcement speech to recounting the previous four years, and contrasting them with the four years before that when Trumbull was under Republican control. She pointed out that the average tax increase over the past four years has been about 1.5 percent.

“Our opponents said, if elected, we would drastically raise taxes. We said we would keep taxes in check, and we did. And we did it better than they did,” she said. “The average tax increase in our four years in office is 1.5 percent increase, while their last four years averaged 2.3 percent.”

The town also had no tax increase last year, she said.

“This decision did not come without sacrifices, but it was the right thing to do,” she said.

Tesoro also touted her support for schools.

“In our four years, we will have provided an additional $12 million in school funding,” she said. “In their last 4 years they provided $7.5 million.”

Other accomplishments Tesoro mentioned included a decision to return the 21-member town council to seven districts with three members from each district. Currently the council is divided into four districts, with District 4 about 20 percent larger than the other three districts.

The change will reduce the potential majority any party can hold to 14-7 from the current 17-4. This can be important because several council actions, such as overriding vetoes and approving some commission appointments, require two-thirds majorities.

“As a matter of principle, we said that a government that is balanced, and where all points of view are represented, is far better than one sided government, no matter who is in the majority,” Tesoro said. “I cannot recall where any political party, with the kind of super-majority we enjoy, willingly gave up seats to the opposition. We did it because it is the right thing to do for our community.”

Trumbull Republican Chairman Chris Bandecchi issued a brief statement on behalf of the local GOP, congratulating Tesoro on entering the 2021 race, and promising a spirited fall campaign.

“The Trumbull GOP will field a qualified and diverse slate of candidates who will provide strong leadership and clear direction to the town by focusing on local issues that really matter to Trumbull voters,” he said. “We look forward to discussing Vicki’s proposed budget and record with Trumbull residents.”

In particular, Bandecchi said the party would focus on “a fully funded education system; a balanced budget without the use of one time gimmicks and funding cliffs that will result in significant future tax increases; and keeping Trumbull residents safe.”

Should she win a third term, Tesoro said she hoped to restart work on a new senior center and aquatics center, and continue to advance the Veterans and First Responders Center recently approved by the town council.

“We may not be able to do everything but we should do the work so our citizens have the information they need to make good decisions,” she said.

She also committed to continued investment in schools and emergency services, and promised to keep taxes stable. Her vision of Trumbull is that of a safe, fiscally conservative community with a strong school system. She also specifically mentioned that Trumbull should be “a community that welcomes all” and cited the recent influx of new residents as evidence of solid leadership.

“There are plenty of communities from which to choose, but these people chose Trumbull,” she said.