Herbst says Trumbull will remain top priority as he explores state office
First Selectman Timothy Herbst has turned an eye toward Hartford, filing paperwork to explore candidacy for statewide office.
Sunday night, Herbst announced he filed exploratory committee registration with the Connecticut State Election Enforcement Commission in consideration of a statewide office, including state treasurer. Trumbull’s chief executive said Monday that he thought long and hard about the decision and that the town will remain his top priority.
“I believe that when you are in public service, if you do a good job, voters will renew your contract,” Herbst said. “Sometimes, if you do a good job as a public official, you get a promotion.
“If I can share with other towns, cities and the state what we’ve been able to accomplish in Trumbull, that’s a good message,” Herbst said.
Herbst, 32, won re-election in November with roughly 70% of the vote.
“I’ve been very humbled and honored since my re-election in November,” he said. “I’ve been honored by the people, here and around the state, that have encouraged me to take a look at this — how I may be able to apply my skill set and background to help Connecticut.”
Herbst didn’t say if he had any other state offices in mind besides state treasurer, but he did speak to some improvements he thinks could be made in the state treasurer’s office. Current Democratic state Treasurer Denise Nappier has announced she will seek re-election.
“I think if you look at what we’ve done in Trumbull, a lot of the problems we have fixed are the same problems in Hartford,” he said.
Pensions are a big concern, he said.
“What concerns me is that over the last 16 years that Denise Nappier has been in office, the pension fund has shown minimal growth at best,” Herbst said. “I had the unfortunate situation of taking over [Trumbull] in a very bad economy. I’m proud of the fact we’ve been able to grow the pension fund despite a tough economic climate.”
Trumbull has reached the adequate levels of proper annual pension funding and has negotiated multiple employee labor agreements that have reduced the number of town employees that are pension eligible, according to Herbst.
Herbst said he wants to bring sensible reform to state government and get rid of “gimmicks” by leadership in Hartford.
“I take a no-nonsense approach and I’m not afraid to take tough positions — that’s what Hartford is lacking,” he said. “I think there is a Hartford culture of kicking the can. I think that’s why people like me, Mayor Lauretti and Mayor Boughton have gotten involved — we’re at the ground zero and see firsthand the consequences of unfunded mandates.”
Mayor Mark Lauretti of Shelton has announced plans to run for governor and Mayor Mark Boughton of Danbury, has formed an exploratory committee to look further into a possible campaign for the state's top seat.
If Herbst forms a candidate committee, he will raise funds through Connecticut’s Citizens Election Program of publicly financed campaigns, according to his announcement.
During the 2013 election, Democrats were critical of Herbst’s re-election bid, saying he had plans to move on from Trumbull. At the time, Herbst said he was committed to doing his job.
This week the first selectman said this won’t take his attention away from his job as first selectman. Giving an example, he said he was invited to a campaign event Monday night, but refused, because he had a Town Council meeting he wanted to attend.
“Everybody who knows me, knows how hard I work,” he said. “I take my job very seriously and my job as first selectman takes priority.”
Herbst says he will spend the next several months raising money, sharing his record of reform and building support to assess where he can best apply his skills to an office on behalf of Connecticut residents.
“I had to think long and hard about it,” Herbst said of forming his exploratory committee. “Even if I’m not successful, I still have a great job and a great town.”