NAUGATUCK — Republican mayoral candidate Tamath Rossi says the borough needs a tried-and-tested leader, and that leader is her.
“We’re at a very critical time for the borough and we need someone who is going to be able to lead who is tried and tested, who has experience, who is going to be able to lead on day one,” said Rossi, who has served as deputy mayor for the past 12 years.
Rossi, 49, is vying to be Naugatuck’s next mayor in a race against Democrat N. Warren “Pete” Hess. The election is Nov. 3.
Rossi wants voters to know she has faced and overcome numerous obstacles during her 12 years on the Board of Mayor and Burgesses.
“We’ve had budget crisis. We’ve faced issues with our pension fund and we’ve totally funded our pension fund. We have changed the structure of pensions,” Rossi said. “I’m the only burgess that has had two ordinances written and ratified. One dealing with blight. One creating our IT Commission. So I am very, very proud of that.”
Rossi said she doesn’t just have experience in the political arena. Rossi owned and operated a paralegal business from 1995 until earlier this year, when she closed it to take a job with the Waterbury Regional Chamber of Commerce. She resigned from the Chamber to run for mayor. She also owned a knitting store for two years on Church Street.
“I’ve had that experience being in our downtown, trying to succeed as a business,” Rossi said.
Rossi said the experience she can bring to the mayor’s office would help the borough continue to move forward with the development of downtown.
“We are at an incredibly exciting time, but it is going to take a very committed, strong leader to make sure all those goals are reached,” Rossi said.
During her time as deputy mayor, Rossi said, the borough found a tenant for the former train station, signed a contract for a medical building to be built on Parcel C, and has begun working with a developer on the former General DataComm property on Rubber Avenue.
Rossi, who has been a member of the quasi-public Naugatuck Economic Development Corporation for six years, said she would continue to work with the NEDC in order to bring business into the borough.
Rossi has made the former Army National Guard Armory building at 607 Rubber Ave. one of the focal points of her campaign. Her plan includes consolidating the Parks and Recreation Department, Naugatuck Youth Services, and the Genesis Academy, which currently uses the former VNA building, into the former armory. Once those are under the same roof the borough would be able to look into putting the three properties back on the tax rolls, she said.
“Those are the types of creative approaches we have to take in order to continue to offer the types of services that we do and keep it within a cost we can afford,” Rossi said.
Rossi said she will also look at other sources of funding and assistance to help offset municipal costs. One of these sources is the Naugatuck Valley Council of Governments.
Rossi said, as mayor, she would work with the Naugatuck Valley Council of Governments to see where the borough could receive assistance in regionalizing services.
In addition, Rossi said, she would create a grants writer position. The grant writer would be paid through the grants, so the position would come at no cost to the borough, she said.
Rossi also wants to continue the reforms, including the privatization of trash collection, the Naugatuck Visiting Nurses Association, and Naugatuck Youth Services, the borough has made over recent year to save money.
“Through that we’ve been able to keep our costs from skyrocketing even more. We’ve started to achieve some savings,” Rossi said.
Rossi said she would also work with the Board of Education to centralize as many services as possible between the board and the borough.
“The Board of Education side has had some good and significant progress on that. I think the borough still has a ways to go as far as our hiring, our review process, our termination process, our tracking of vendors, the tracking of bidding,” Rossi said. “I think that’s something the borough has had kind of fits and starts and been trying to get in that direction. But we really, really need to do that.”
Rossi said it’s not enough to just look for ways to save money, however. A mayor needs to build excitement within the community and get the community involved.
“I think that when you have a leader who is hands on, is involved, who gets it that is going to lead to success. When you have a mayor that is drawing from the community and involving the community, that creates an incredible amount of ownership and excitement and involvement by our community,” Rossi said.
Part of getting people involved is showing them what is taking place. That is why Rossi plans to use social media and a newsletter to reach out to residents. Rossi also plans to make recordings of public meetings and public hearings available to residents.
“We have the ever-challenging situation where our community is busy raising their children and living their lives and we’re finding that attendance has been very weak or sporadic at best with our public hearings and our meetings,” Rossi said.
As voters prepare to head to the polls, Rossi said her experience makes her the best candidate for mayor.
“I’m somebody who has taken on the tough fights when many others have been unwilling,” Rossi said. “I’m someone who is going to be able to come in and lead on day one. I’m going to be very much a leader who is going to be hands-on.”
For more information on Rossi’s campaign, visit www.rossifornaugatuckct.com.