PROSPECT — Republican Mayor Robert Chatfield is seeking to make it an even 20 terms in office.
Chatfield, 72, was first elected mayor in 1977 and has held the seat for the past 38 years. He said his 38 years in office gives him the experience necessary to address any problem the town might face, from budget issues to natural disasters.
“I think I know the town better than anybody else. There probably isn’t a question I can’t answer,” Chatfield said. “I believe I am very suited for the job. I believe, in the past, the voters and taxpayers have always returned me because they like the way I handle things and the way I run the town. Tenure comes in very handy when planning for the future.
“If a catastrophe or major weather phenomenon comes through town, I’ve dealt with so many it is second nature. We can get right to work and take care of the town. I don’t have to look through the 6-inch thick town emergency plan,” Chatfield said.
Chatfield is hoping to translate that experience into another term in office. He is facing a challenge from Democrat Theresa Graveline. The election is Nov. 3.
Chatfield said among his priorities, if re-elected, will be improving elderly services in town. He pointed out that he helped secure a grant to buy a new minibus, which is expected to be delivered shortly, for the Prospect Senior Center.
Chatfield also sees the former Community School building on Center Street as playing a vital role in improving services for senior citizens. If the town is able to move forward with buying the school from Region 16, which oversees schools in Beacon Falls and Prospect, the senior center will be able to utilize that space for larger programs, he said.
Chatfield said he would also work on putting a driveway or walkway between the senior center and the school.
Chatfield also wants to continue looking for ways to expand the town’s parks.
“This is a very park-oriented town,” Chatfield said.
Chatfield said the parks not only provide children with a place to play, but can help foster an appreciation for the town.
“If we can keep the town spirit high that means volunteerism stays high and they won’t have trouble getting people to volunteer for football, soccer, little league, scouts, or any other organization,” Chatfield said.
Chatfield said his experience will also come in handy as the town moves forward with a Charter revision process. He said the Oct. 20 Town Council meeting was his 1,102 council meeting.
“So I think I have a pretty good handle on the Charter,” Chatfield said.
Chatfield said he has focused on economic development throughout his years in office, and will continue to do so. He pointed to helping bringing together business owners last year who eventually formed the Prospect Business Association.
“I wanted something to take the place of the chamber of commerce, which went out of business. These guys have taken off like wildfire. It’s going very well,” Chatfield said.
Chatfield said he has been working towards economic development in the town since he first took office.
“You would not have economic development without water. That was the first thing I started when I took office. I started looking for water line grants in 1978,” Chatfield said.
Since that time, he has been able to secure grants for and install water lines along Route 68, Route 69, and the industrial park, Chatfield said.
The addition of the water lines throughout town have increased the amount of businesses that can move into town and decreased the cost of fire insurance due to more fire hydrants, Chatfield said.
Chatfield said his knowledge gained over the last 38 years plays a crucial role when it comes time to build a budget. If re-elected, he said, he will continue to be frugal with spending.
“I think longevity plays a part in it, too, where I know what things have cost. We will save whenever we can, wherever we can. You are working on a budget in November and December and the council is working on it 18 months ahead. That’s a very difficult task,” Chatfield said.
As the town continues to grow, Chatfield said he wants to ensure Prospect retains its small-town atmosphere.
“I want to be very careful on guarding the character of our small-town atmosphere,” Chatfield said.
Chatfield said one of the ways he has worked to retain Prospect’s small-town feel is opposing medical marijuana shops moving into Prospect.
“I realize people need [medical marijuana] and I’m not opposed to that. I’m very aware that it helps some people. I’m very worried about the other element who will come into town at 2 a.m. and try to get into an establishment like that,” Chatfield said.
Chatfield said it’s not just his years in politics that makes him an experienced mayor. He has spent 50 years volunteering with the Prospect Fire Department, with eight of those years serving as chief. He currently serves as the day commander for the department.
Chatfield said he has proven that he has the experience and dedication to be the mayor Prospect needs.
“You have to be dedicated. It’s 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Anything can happen at any time and you have to be ready for that,” Chatfield said. “I think I fit the job. I’ve grown up in town and I’ve grown up with the town.”