Candidate Haberlin says he 'votes his conscience'
Republican Bill Haberlin who has served the last seven months on Trumbull’s Board of Finance, believes you never fight over good ideas, even if those come from the other side of the aisle.
“I have been around long enough, that, in my political career, if I’m not in agreement with what my party’s doing, I’m not going to do it,” he said. “I vote my conscience.”
Haberlin, who was appointed to the Board of Finance by First Selectman Timothy Herbst, following Dave Rutigliano’s resignation last November, will be challenged for his seat in the special election July 22 by Democrat Lainie McHugh.
Haberlin formerly served on Trumbull’s Economic and Community Development Commission. He ran for Planning and Zoning in November, and while he won more votes than Democrats on the ballot, minority representation requirements meant he didn’t win the seat. However, Haberlin said that Board of Finance has proved to be right fit.
“Board of Finance is more up my alley and I can have an impact,” he said. “I think the Board of Finance is more encompassing of the whole town.”
Haberlin has had a long career as a human resources manager with both Moore Special Tool Company in Bridgeport and Howmet Corporation in North Haven.
When Howmet was bought by Pratt & Whitney, Haberlin found himself on the unemployment line. When job offers started coming in, he decided to go a different route.
“I said ‘I think I can do this on my own and I started Technical Staffing Solutions in Stratford Center,” Haberlin said.
Haberlin was born and raised in Stratford, where he got a start in local politics. He served on the Stratford Town Council and was chairman for a time. About 10 years ago, he moved to Trumbull, after his wife found a home they both fell in love with.
“I was away on a golf outing and got a call from my wife,” Haberlin said. “She said ‘I think I found a house.’ I said ‘I didn’t know we were looking for a house,’ but we both loved the town.”
He eventually decided to get back into local politics, and has enjoyed his time on the Board of Finance.
When the 2014-15 budget came before the Board of Finance for a final vote in March, Haberlin said he worked to find compromises.
“I think that the Board of Finance played nicely and there is not a lot of politics involved,” he said. “When the Democrats had a good idea, we supported it — you don’t fight over good ideas. I think the whole process was pretty nonpartisan.”
When it came time to discuss the proposed schools budget, Board of Finance Chairman Paul Lavoie, a fellow Republican, proposed reducing the budget by $900,000. Haberlin, with the two Democrats on the board, voted against that cut, and proposed a smaller reduction of $697,500. While many parents and others in the community opposed the cut, Haberlin said it was a fair balance.
“What the district was looking for, in new positions was reasonable and I didn’t want to impact that,” he said.
Haberlin has three grandchildren, including a granddaughter at Frenchtown and a daughter and son-in-law who are teachers.
“You kind of approach a budget process with some numbers in your mind,” he said. “You don’t want to go in and say ‘geez, won’t be too bad if we raised taxes 6%.’” You know there are limits to what people can afford and you have to be reasonable.”
The finance board also had to balance requests with paying bills, like funding the pension.
“You have to fund the school budget and police and other needs,” he said. “You have to be reasonable. You can’t give all the trucks one department wants this year or all the police cars.”
As to the future, Haberlin said, he wants to see Trumbull continue to succeed. He has also discussed plans with First Selectman Timothy Herbst to explore plans and proposalsfor a new senior center.
GOP all the way
If Haberlin wins the election, Republicans will maintain at 4-2 majority on the board. He is concerned that a 3-3 split on the Board of Finance would make progress impossible.
“With a 3-3 Board of Finance, probably very little would get done,” Haberlin said. “Much of the budget burden would be placed on the Town Council and I would not like to see that happen. We gave the council a very balanced budget in this last election. They made very few changes.”
He also believes the GOP leadership has put the town on the right path and said he has enjoyed talking to voters and the camaraderie he has formed while serving on the board.
“I think the Republican agenda is good for the town of Trumbull,” he said.