PROSPECT — Mayor Robert Chatfield is running for his 18th term in office and the long-time incumbent says he’s not yet finished governing Prospect.
“I think there’s more to do in Prospect and this is a very difficult time, financially, for the country and the state and I don’t think it’s time to change captains in the middle of a fiscal crisis. I led the town through difficult times before,” Chatfield said.
Prior to becoming mayor, Chatfield managed school bus operations in Region 16. He also worked at Sikorsky Aircraft, served in the U.S. Airforce for three years, and worked for various other businesses in Prospect. He graduated from Kaynor Technical High School in Waterbury.
Chatfield said his priorities for his next term in office would be to save as much money as legally feasible while adhering to state requirements.
“The people want to move here because they feel the town is being run very efficiently,” Chatfield said.
Chatfield cut the mill rate and lowered the town budget for this fiscal year, he said.
“I am very cheap and I do a lot of the service calls on furnaces and other things myself to save the taxpayers money,” Chatfield said. “I think if I was a big spender, I wouldn’t be being reelected every year.”
However, there are some things the town should spend on, Chatfield said.
He said the town needs to invest more in its roads and improving infrastructure at the police department.
Chatfield said his many years of experience will help him continue to lead the town.
“Longevity has saved this town hundreds of thousands of dollars over the years because you can plan and carry something through,” Chatfield said.
One of the ways Chatfield said he saves money is by applying for grants. He said he’s gotten millions of dollars worth of grants over the years to bring water lines in town.
Just because he has been in office a long time, Chatfield said that doesn’t mean he is not moving the town forward.
He said he is always improving recreation, the library, the police department, and town equipment.
“We’re maintaining what we have and we learn from other towns what they’re doing,” Chatfield said.
Over his tenure in office, Chatfield said he built a new library and senior center and improved the police department.
Recently, the recycling center started taking electronics, Chatfield said.
“There’s new stuff coming along all the time,” Chatfield said.
One new thing Chatfield is working on is bringing more businesses to town.
He said Prospect has three or four empty storefronts and one empty factory building.
“That’s too much, but the economy has to change before new businesses will open,” Chatfield said.
Chatfield said Prospect’s mill rate should be attractive to businesses.
Chatfield said the grand list is set to grow well this year with the installation of the new Yankee Gas pipeline and the Toll Brothers building.
Chatfield felt that good communication is key to a well-run government and said he is in constant communication with other government officials, schools, and residents. He said he is available 24 hours a day.
To keep the lines of communication open, Chatfield said he speaks with school board and Town Council members several times a week and uses CODE RED and the town website to communicate important messages to townspeople.
As the state’s longest-serving chief elected official, Chatfield said leaders in other towns often look to him for advice.
Chatfield said he represents Prospect in state conferences and hearings. Recently, he testified at a public hearing on wind turbine regulations in New Britain. He said Prospect needs wind regulations, but shouldn’t act until the state comes out with its new regulations. He said he would support whatever the Planning and Zoning Commission decided for regulating turbines in Prospect.
“I’ve never done anything to bring disrespect to the town,” Chatfield said.
Chatfield said the mayor’s job entails a lot more than attending meetings and putting together a budget.
“You do a lot more for the town than what’s written in the town Charter,” Chatfield said, mentioning activities for children and seniors.
Chatfield said addressing residents’ differing concerns is a balancing act, but, he said, people trust him. Chatfield said he enjoys working with people even though he can’t please everyone.
“(The taxpayers and residents) have grown up with me and I’ve grown up with them,” Chatfield said.