Note: In the days leading up to Election Day 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: Mike France
Education: Bachelor of Science, Electrical Engineering, University of Southern California, 1987; Master of Science, Electrical Engineering, Naval Postgraduate School, 1997; Degree of Electrical Engineer, Naval Postgraduate School, 1997; Master of Science, Organizational Management, Eastern CT State University, 2005
Work Experience: 1981 – 2005: U.S. Navy (LCDR, Retired); Significant experience: Project Superintendent, USS DOLPHIN (AGSS 555) Overhaul; Program Manager’s Representative, PMS450E. 2005 – Present: Progeny Systems Corporation, Groton, CT – Program Manager; Significant experience: Joint Interoperability Certification Lead; Risk Management Process Lead
Civic/Political Experience: First time as a candidate for elected office
Family: Married, 4 children: Annemarie (21), Laurel (19, York College of PA Sophomore), Marguerite (16, LHS 11th Grade), Frederick (14, LHS 9th Grade); 2 grandchildren.
1. Why are you running for this office?
During the 2010 national election cycle, I worked a primary campaign for a friend who was running for U.S. Representative. That effort sparked an interest in getting involved in local politics, which began with joining the Republican Town Committee. When my daughter was a senior at Ledyard High School, I attended the town meetings with her as she completed the requirements for Government class. Following her graduation in June 2010, I continued to attend Town Council and Board of Education meetings, learning in the process what challenges were facing our town. I strongly believe that running for Town Council is an opportunity to serve my community. Three skills that I learned and routinely used during my Navy career are critical to being successful on Town Council: leadership, team-building, and problem solving. These skills will be extremely useful in restoring an effective and efficient town government in Ledyard.
2. What do you believe is the greatest challenge Ledyard faces today, and what would you do to meet this challenge?
The greatest challenge facing Ledyard today is maintaining needed town services and continuing to improve education while preserving the small-town, bedroom community feel in a fiscally-constrained environment. There are two principal ways to meet this challenge: (1) improve the efficiency of town government to free up revenue for the education budget and (2) increase the tax base through responsible expansion of commercial businesses. The best way to improve town services is to conduct a detailed review of all services and use of town employees to identify opportunities and synergies to reduce inefficiency and redundancy. Responsible expansion of commercial business needs to be a priority of future Town Councils who, by working closely with the Economic Development Commission, can create opportunities that will encourage businesses to serve our town from the several vacant storefronts. A recent example of success is the impending construction of a CVS on the site of the old Gales Ferry Elementary School.
3. How would you rate the performance of the current council overall, and what, if anything, would you do differently?
The current Town Council has been effective despite the rift that developed between them and the Mayor, and the fact that the Town Council was forced to assume some of the responsibilities of the Mayor to ensure town government continued to function. However, I believe that the Town Council should have done more to maintain the proper alignment of roles and responsibilities between the Mayor, Town Hall staff and the Town Council instead of taking over those responsibilities. The one thing that I would have done differently is to work harder to engage the Mayor in an effort to ensure that he was fully performing the job to which he was elected. If that was unsuccessful, then I would have worked to inform town residents of the specific responsibilities the Mayor was failing to perform prior to assuming those roles by the Town Council. The most effective method would be through the use of the power of the pen in editorials and letters to the editor in The Day, Norwich Bulletin and the Patch.