BEACON FALLS — Come Election Day on Nov. 3, voters will face a choice between the time-tested leadership of Democratic incumbent Sue Cable and the varied, colorful experience of Town Historian and Selectman Mike Krenesky for the first selectman seat.
Cable has served five terms in the capacity of first selectman. She can claim a hand in such developments as Woodland Regional High School, the installation of sewers on Rimmon Hill, the opening of the industrial park, giving access to the Naugatuck River, and the introduction of medical practitioners in the town. She has allowed a $500 tax abatement for qualifying seniors and a $1,000 one for volunteer firemen and EMT workers, and claims to have played a large part in cutting the town’s budget by some $500,000.
She laughed off critics who claim she’s a big spender—“I have to go through the Board of Selectmen, the Finance Committee … and if it’s over a certain amount, a public vote,” she said. “I can’t write a check.”
Cable was undecided about whether to run again for some time, as her family wanted her to take a break.
“My family and friends see how hard I work. They live it. You know, John Q. Public doesn’t,” she said.
In the end, she decided to run because, she said, “In these economically challenging times, you do not need somebody with inexperience in here because … it will hurt.”
Though a vote for Cable might be a vote for the status quo, she said that in these tough times, “we can’t afford to make change right now.”
She said her priorities for a new term would be Depot Street Bridge and other infrastructure projects, including paving, downtown economic development, and further work on access to the Naugatuck River.
On her campaign efforts, Cable said “I think that the way it’s going right now, it’s a campaign, and we’re out there, grassroots; we’re talking to the people and we’re getting a lot of new ideas, and we’re getting people that are interested in serving, which I’m excited about … but I don’t count anything until Nov. 3 at about nine at night.”
On her opponent, Cable says a lack of leadership experience and a poor record in terms of producing results disqualify him.
Krenesky responded to these claims by e-mail from Thailand, where he will be for another week.
“Since becoming selectman,” he wrote, “I have sponsored a river cleanup, I introduced the cleanup and repair of the sidewalk on South Main Street, and I revived a lagging project to build a fence around the Town Hall parking area. While in office I have fought for responsible budgets. I have also kept the door open with the regional school system by meeting with administrators and attending BOE meetings. I am the only Selectman that regularly attends Town Commission meetings.”
Krenesky writes that two things make him stand out as a candidate: his emphasis on planning and his vision for the future.
“Beacon Falls has a future, and it takes people with vision to set the town in a forward-thinking position,” he said. “We need someone in the first selectman’s office that is not afraid to dust off the Downtown Revitalization Plan (approved in 2002 by the Board of Selectmen) and update it to today’s new downtown environment. I will do so by inviting the new Merchant’s Association to review and make recommendations. Those recommendations will be brought to the Economic Development Commission for their comments.”
He also cited the Town Hall’s antiquated phone system and lack of e-mail access as problems, writing that “We have for too long been living in the 1980s.” He wants to update those systems and improve the town Web site, which was redesigned earlier this year.
Perhaps influenced by his experience as a project manager, Krenesky wants to have extensive plans written for many town departments in order to streamline operations.
On administrative priorities, Krenesky wrote, “Planning, planning, planning. I will spend the early months as first selectman setting up for and leading discussions across all levels of town government on how we set the direction for the next five, 10, and perhaps years beyond. This will be a living document that allows for change, but is a roadmap that we can follow. It will be the driver for grant funding that will keep our taxes from jumping in the double digits we experienced in the past.”
Cable thinks Krenesky’s running is more of an “ego thing” than a real desire to serve—Krenesky responded to this, writing “[Cable] came to me and asked that we have a civil race. Seems that she is already taking a defensive posture and is in the process of heading into the mud.”