PROSPECT — Democrat mayoral candidate Theresa Graveline wants to bring a fresh perspective to the mayor’s office.
“There’s the philosophy in the current administration of ‘if it aint broke, don’t fix it.’ While I understand that things work, and while they work let’s continue to use them, I also think that there is a better way to do many things many times and we have to be open to those possibilities,” Graveline said.
Graveline, 56, is no stranger to politics in Prospect. She has served the last 22 years on the Town Council. She is vying to be Prospect’s next mayor in a race against Republican incumbent Robert Chatfield. The election is Nov. 3.
Among the areas Graveline feels the town can do better in is economic development.
“We don’t have a plan for true economic development. I think we need a comprehensive one and a responsible one. One that takes into account who we are now and who we want to be in the future, and how are we going to get there,” Graveline said.
Graveline said the town needs a plan to maintain current businesses in town as well as attract new businesses. If elected, she said she would work with the Economic Development Commission, which reformed in May 2014, to help figure out how the future of the town is going to look. This would include doing an inventory of space the town has available and what the town wants to attract, she said.
Graveline also wants to see a tax incentive ordinance put into place. The Economic Development Commission recently presented one, Graveline said, but it was too cumbersome and complex.
“If we can have something simple to attract businesses and we know what types of businesses we would like to have, I think we have some potential for the future,” Graveline said.
Graveline said attracting more businesses will help offset taxes for residents.
“Towns aren’t allowed to invest, play the stock market, or anything risky like that, thank goodness. So where do we get our money? Residential taxes, business taxes, and grants,” Graveline said.
In addition to bringing businesses into town, Graveline said she wants to focus on pursuing grants.
“People get frightened by grants. They say ‘those state and federal grant programs have so many strings attached.’ But if the strings attached are too burdensome for us, we don’t have to apply for those. We can evaluate them and say, ‘if the strings attached are things we would probably do anyway, sure let’s make an application to see if we can get this,’” Graveline said.
Graveline also wants to make the budget process easier for residents to understand. She said the town runs a very lean budget, but the budget isn’t user friendly.
“It’s not easy for any average citizen to pick up the budget and say, ‘yeah, I understand where my town tax dollars are going.’ My hope is to be able to revamp the budget so that you can pick it up, go page to page, and understand what’s involved in each of the town departments as it’s run and not spread all over the place,” she said.
Graveline also feels Town Hall can be modernized to help it run more efficiently. She said the various departments have created their own email addresses to do business. She said she would like to bring all the email addresses under one domain.
“I think that’s a minor change that would cost almost nothing to do, but it will give people the opportunity to connect with the government a little bit better,” Graveline said.
Graveline said also wants to improve the town’s website.
“I’d like to see our town website become the source of information, the go-to place where anything you want to know is there,” Graveline said.
Graveline said a large portion of her campaign has been reaching out to seniors and she has heard two main complaints: monetary concerns and housing options.
Graveline said the Ordinance Subcommittee, which she sits on, is working on a senior tax abatement program. The program would be tied into the number of years a resident has lived in town.
“So it’s kind of a little reward program for having supported the town for all these years,” Graveline said.
Graveline said as mayor she would look into senior housing options in town.
“I definitely want to explore housing options for seniors. What exact form that would take, I don’t know, because we haven’t had those conversations. We need to have those conversations,” Graveline said.
Graveline said the town has a great opportunity in front of it with the potential purchase of Community School. If elected, she said she would work towards helping the town utilize the building to its full potential.
“A lot of the need is for meeting space and storage space. So many factions of the town can see themselves utilizing that space,” Graveline said. “In my mind I see Community School as a government community center.”
Graveline said she would seek grants to offset the cost of any repairs or work needed to turn the school into a community center.
Graveline said she brings a fresh perspective and more than two decades of Town Council experience to the office of mayor. In addition to her political experience, Graveline said she has owned and operated a finance business in town.
“I have a bit of business sense and, because it is a finance company, we institute a lot of checks and balances in our day to day and month to month operations. I will bring that same acuity to the role of mayor,” Graveline said.
For more information on Graveline’s campaign, visit www.theresaforprospect2015.com.