Note: Over the next two weeks the Ledyard Patch will run short profiles of all town candidates for council and board of education, along with their responses to three questions that we asked. Election Day is Nov. 8.
Name: William D. Saums
BS, Cornell University; MBA, Northeastern University; Executive Program, Wharton School of Business
18 years with global corporations including AT&T plus 17 years as founder of a small business providing management services to major corporations worldwide
7 years as a youth mentor, 8 years serving Ledyard as volunteer on commissions and in elected office:
- Ledyard Town Council, 5 years
- Liaison to Economic Development Commission and WPCA
- Committees: Land Use Planning & Public Works, Administration, Information Technology
- Town Council representative on town employee union bargaining team
- Economic Development Committee, 3 years
- Ledyard Town Center Committee, 6 years
- Ledyard Girls Softball Asst. Coach, 4 years
- Active in the Ledyard Congregational Church, 18 years
Married 34 years with two children, Michele (University of Pennsylvania) and Adrienne (Gallup Hill School).
1. Why are you running for this office?
I like working with the Town Council and serving my fellow residents and I believe I make a difference. I use my business skills as a small business owner to offer a balanced approach, a reasoned manner and an analytical method to problems. I work well with everyone. I served as one of two Town Councilors on the bargaining team representing the Town in labor contract negotiation - and in the last 3 years, the Town Council has delivered flat budgets with the help of significant concessions from our town employees.
I’m concerned that our land use departments have been weakened during the current administration, and developers continue to challenge our town’s planning, zoning and wetlands regulations. I will continue to work for the right economic development to offset our heavy reliance on residential taxes. We must preserve our town’s quality of life, its good schools, its open spaces, its historical and rural charm, and we need to keep it affordable for our seniors. I believe integrity matters; that facts are important, and that taxpayers have a right to open government. I will continue to work for Ledyard’s best interests, including tax relief through economic development and limits on residential sprawl; support for our excellent schools; and preservation of open space and quality of life.
2. What do you believe is the greatest challenge Ledyard faces today, and what would you do to meet this challenge?
I believe our state places an unfair burden on our residents by relying too heavily on local property taxes to support local government and schools, and at the same time imposing a state income tax plus a state sales tax, even while reducing the amount of revenue it sends back to local towns every year. Our local representative Tom Reynolds serves Ledyard well in working intelligently to obtain more state revenue and change the tax code.
Therefore, as Town Councilor I will work to make Ledyard as affordable as possible by participating every year in annual budget negotiations to control costs and find more ways to preserve our quality of education and the services we deliver. Specifically, I will continue to serve on the town’s labor negotiating team, I will support additional efforts to regionalize where possible, and to gain savings where we can find them without cutting services and education.
3. How would you rate the performance of the current council overall, and what, if anything, would you do differently?
Volunteers are the lifeblood of our community and we have an outstanding Town Council. Both this council and the one before it have been an honor and a pleasure to work with. We’ve regionalized our water department, we’ve gained valuable concessions from our unions in the face of reduced state revenue, we’ve consolidated services with the Board of Education, we’ve implemented better financial software, and improved public access to town council meetings and public documents; all while delivering flat budgets for three years. The talent, the experience and the hard work that our councilors have contributed to our town is a tremendous asset, and Ledyard can be proud of the work its Town Council has accomplished.
However, we’ve spent way too much time dealing with controversy in the past two years that could have been avoided. I am hopeful that we will have new leadership in the Mayor’s office next year; but either way, I will work hard to concentrate on the work at hand and to minimize the time wasted on controversy. There is more work to do to improve services, reduce costs, and plan how our town can become an even better place in which to live, work, and grow up.