BEACON FALLS — For Democratic incumbent First Selectman Susan Cable, getting the most services using the least amount of taxpayer money is a top priority.
Cable is running for her eighth term as first selectman. She has also served three years as a minority selectman. The former special education teacher and administrator now works part-time as a consultant and an advocate for children with special needs.
“Nobody can get too much education,” Cable said.
Cable said her education for the job of first selectman continues every day.
As first selectman, Cable said she will work with Region 16 to maintain good communication.
In Beacon Falls, the first selectman doesn’t have much control over the school district, but the position is in charge of maintaining the town’s infrastructure, which Cable said was one of her top priorities.
She said roads need to be repaired permanently rather than continually patching bits and pieces. Her administration brought two bond package referendums to repair town roads to voters in the past year. They both failed.
Now, Cable said, she plans to go back to the drawing board to figure out how to get the repairs done. After a low turnout at the last referendum, Cable said spending $2,500 to $3,000 on another referendum may not be prudent. Cable said many residents have called her saying they didn’t know about the referendum and would like to have another chance to vote on the roads.
“A lot of people felt there was a lack of communication about the vote,” Cable said.
Cable said another priority is to build a community media center on the town’s Wolfe Avenue property.
“Communities are evaluated a lot on their community media centers,” Cable said.
In order to see the center come to fruition, Cable said she would pursue grants to build the center with as little impact on taxpayers as possible.
Some in town have said the house, which was once owned by local entrepreneur Tracey Lewis, should not be torn down because of its historic value and have claimed the town didn’t follow protocol when the decision was made to raze the house.
Cable said the Board of Selectmen followed proper procedures in deciding what to do with the property.
When the town voted to purchase the property, Cable said there was no mention of the house having historic value. She said she originally hoped to renovate the building, but it would be more expensive than razing the house and building a new media center. At this point in the project, Cable said it would be unwise to sell the property.
“We would never get back what we invested in it,” Cable said.
Right now, Cable said, there is no money to do anything with the property, but the town should be ready to move ahead with the project if grants become available. She said she is looking for a $25,000 grant to fund an initial design study of the new center.
On the other hand, Cable said, the old school house on Rimmon Hill Road has much more historic value than the Tracey Lewis house.
“I was born and raised here. History to me is important,” Cable said.
Cable said she would like to purchase the building and move it to another location in town with the help of in-kind donations.
During her tenure in office, Cable said she has brought over $10 million in grants to Beacon Falls. Several of those grants went towards paying for the streetscape, a designed walking path along Main Street which started construction this summer after nine years of planning.
“The streetscape has been a long time coming,” Cable said.
If reelected, Cable said she hopes to see the completion of the streetscape.
“Everything takes a lot more time and energy than people realize,” Cable said.
Opponents have accused Cable of not having the funding in place before the project broke ground, but Cable said the monies are there.
Cable said the town has all the money it needs for its $205,120 share of the project’s cost, but she hasn’t decided where the last $7,095 of that will come from. Cable said she hopes the project’s contingency fund will have enough left over to cover that sum, but if not there are several other legal options. Cable said she is continually applying for grants to offset the town’s portion of the cost, but the money is available immediately in the town aid road account, if needed.
“The money is in place, it’s just from different coffers. We want to take it where it’s the least impact on taxpayers. We’re not hiding anything. If we can save taxpayers money, then we’re going to do that,” Cable said.
She said two businesses have contacted her since the start of construction and said they were interested in moving to Beacon Falls because of the streetscape project, which they hope will bring more people to downtown.
Bringing new businesses to the community takes a lot of legwork, Cable said. She said she follows through on any leads she gets.
“It’s very easy to say I’m going to get more businesses in. … People don’t just knock on your doors. You have to keep both your ears open and listen for people,” Cable said.
Cable said compared to surrounding towns, Beacon Falls has more new businesses, despite the tough economy.
“We have been growing, and that’s reflected in the Grand List,” Cable said.
She said she is working with Graniwerks, a company that sells exotic stones, to create a stone museum in the industrial park and with investors interested in opening a passive recreation business in town, like kayaking at Toby’s Pond.
“When you get ideas, you pursue it,” Cable said.
If reelected, Cable said she wants to focus on personnel issues and work with town departments to make them more effective. One of Cable’s goals is to hire someone with engineering experience to work in the Public Works Department and cut down on the town’s engineering costs. Cable also said she wanted a certified tax collector and town clerk to work in town hall full time and a full-time police lieutenant.
“You need somebody in those offices,” Cable said.
Cable felt people want more services in town.
“The needs of our community are changing,” Cable said. “They want their community to care for them,” she said.
Cable said personal communication is important to her, she works to bring people together and is not afraid to tackle problems.
“I’m not afraid to be criticized,” Cable said. “I have a lifelong commitment to this community.”
Cable felt her years of experience and the relationships she’s cultivated with leaders throughout the Naugatuck Valley, the state, and the federal government give her a leg up in the race.
“It’s a 24-hour job,” Cable said. “It’s working and talking to people at all levels. I have a proven record. Beacon Falls has always been first to Susan Cable.”
To find out more about the Democratic slate for Beacon Falls, go to www.dems.info/BeaconFalls.