To the Editor:

I want to share with Trumbull voters my perspective on the negotiations regarding the Trumbull debate schedule. Trumbull Democrats and the Tesoro campaign approached this negotiation in practical terms. We want to give Trumbull voters ample opportunity to hear from both first selectman candidates, as well as the Board of Education and Board of Finance candidates.

The Board of Education could completely turn over this year, and that board must pass a budget close to $100 million within 30 days of being sworn in. They are responsible for the quality of our outstanding public schools, and we should hear from all the candidates. The Board of Finance sets the mill rate for our town and reviews the town budget, and plays an important role in reviewing financial requests, transfers, and bonding. Therefore, we feel that three first selectman debates and a Board of Education and Board of Finance debate would serve Trumbull well.

Mr. Herbst has drawn a line in the sand, and his “final offer” is five first selectman debates. In the entire history of the United States, there has never been five presidential debates in any year, yet he wants to have five in our small town. Mr. Herbst made no mention in his “final offer” of a debate for BOE or BOF. We believe that ultimatums like this are unnecessary, and it’s an example of precisely the type of leadership style that has not been beneficial to Trumbull.

When Mr. Herbst drew a line in the sand with Bridgeport over the magnet school, Trumbull lost 49 acres of our town. When Mr. Herbst drew a line in the sand with Bridgeport over the sewers, we were unable to reach agreement and appear locked in to the highest sewer use rates in the state for another 10 years. When Mr. Herbst drew a line in the sand with Monroe, more unproductive and expensive litigation ensued over the Super Wal-Mart store.

We believe Mr. Herbst should put down his sword and come to the negotiating table in good faith. We are eager for Trumbull voters to hear from all our candidates, and we believe that this is far more than an audition for the first selectman’s statewide political ambitions.

In order to get the ball rolling in the proper direction, we have asked Trumbull Times Editor Steve Coulter to take the initiative to invite both Mr. Herbst and Ms. Tesoro to the traditional one-hour live debate broadcast on Trumbull Educational Television the Thursday night prior to the election. We’ve had this live debate on TV in 2009, 2011, and 2013, and it’s worked well for Trumbull. Ms. Tesoro is sure to accept The Trumbull Times’ invitation. That should demonstrate to the entire town that Ms. Tesoro is eager to have an open and frank discussion about the issues facing Trumbull. Thank you.
Tom Kelly
Chairman, Trumbull Democratic Town Committee