Republican John Rodolico is one of four candidates running for Mayor of Ledyard on Nov. 8. His background responses to seven questions appear below. Responses from the other candidates will appear over the next week or so.
Name: John A. Rodolico
Address: 4 Baron Court, Gales Ferry, CT
Hometown: Brooklyn, New York
Employment: Principal Engineer at Electric Boat Corp
Education: BS Aerospace Engineering, New York Polytech; MS Civil Engineering, University of Connecticut
Previous elected experience: 6 term Ledyard Town Councilor, 5 years as Council Chairman and Deputy Mayor
Civic experience: Charter Revision Commission, Inland Wetlands and Watercourses Commission, Ledyard High School Building Committee, Ledyard Boys Baseball and Girls Softball Leagues
1. What do you consider to be the single biggest issue facing the town?
The cost of living in Ledyard. Ledyard currently has the highest tax rate in southeastern Connecticut and should collect no more revenue than what is required to efficiently provide services to its citizens.
Our property tax rate must be maintained at the lowest possible level by looking for efficiencies both within General Government departments; in conjunction with other town organizations, such as the Board of Education; and throughout the region by sharing services with other municipalities. Savings within the General Government can be achieved by creating flexible department structures and by cross-training personnel.
2. What do you think Ledyard can do to attract and encourage greater economic development?
Ledyard has historically been a bedroom community with limited light industrial and commercial enterprises. It must be accepted that economic development will never significantly affect the tax rate, but rather must have a goal of primarily serving the needs of the community. A guiding principle must be that quality development will attract quality development, and an effort must be made to attract or expand appropriate commercial enterprises that will elevate the appearance of our town, provide basic services, and expand the tax base.
An effort should be made to work with existing business enterprises in the town to expand basic needs and improve convenience and quality of life. Examples would be expansion of broadband service, working with Job Lot to seek out a full service grocer, and encouraging Groton Utilities to allow access to the reservoir watershed for passive recreation.
3. How important would you say it is to maintain strong, professional working relationships with the town council and other branches of town government?
It is critical for the Mayor to maintain clear channels of communication with all town stakeholders: town employees, the Board of Education, the Town Council, State legislators, the business community, and the taxpayer.
The relationship with the Town Council is critical since all financial decisions and all contractual agreements require council approval. Therefore, as directed in the Town Charter, the Mayor must keep the Council informed on critical issues, and publicly aired council meetings are an excellent forum to exchange this information. An open dialog will in most cases can avoid misunderstanding and conflict and facilitate consensus.
4. For several years Ledyard has considered transitioning to an independent police department. Do you support or oppose the idea, and why?
The decision to remain with the State Police Resident Trooper program or pursue an independent police force requires an answer to two questions: 1) What are the long term costs of each option, and 2) Which option will provide the town with the most efficient and effective service in keeping our town safe. As a previously serving town councilor I requested a five-year plan of costs and organization and would use this information to reach a consensus on the future of Ledyard’s police.
5. Assuming there are still savings to be found in the annual town budget, what are some likely places to look?
Annual savings in the town budget must be found by a constant review of all town programs for effectiveness and efficiency.
Town hall departments must be coordinated and consolidated to more effectively utilize our highly trained professional staff. Consideration must be given to cross-training employees to allow versatility in providing services and also to increase the capabilities of current employees.
Evaluation of the long-term costs of medical and pension benefits is critical to ensure that employee compensation is fair and equitable, but also fully funded. National and state trends towards defined contribution retirement plans must be implemented as appropriate without impacting currently retired and soon to retire employees.
Finally, legal costs must be reduced by ensuring employees, citizens, and businesses are treated with dignity, respect, and consistency. A continuous process of policy review and lessons learned from past experience can be invaluable in reducing the town’s exposure.
6. A state economic development consultant recently called the riverfront in Gales Ferry the town’s most under-utilized asset. In your opinion, how could the town take better advantage of this asset?
Additional development along the Route 12 corridor, including the riverfront, will require effective management of current commercial and residential development. The appearance of this corridor and the waterfront must be enhanced as a marketing tool, property value enhancement, health and safety concern, and as an impact to the general quality of life. Clearing underbrush and invasive plants should be initiated to improve visibility of the river. This effort can be accomplished with community involvement to minimize costs to the taxpayer.
Since state and federal regulations dictate the use of waterfront property we must be aggressive in securing grants which would study this issue and provide appropriate guidance and funding. As an example, an enhanced use of the existing Stoddard Hill State Park and Poquetanuck Cove accesses could be pursued while recognizing the inability of a town such as Ledyard to shoulder the costs of such endeavors.
7. What is your “vision” for Ledyard and what makes you think you are the best person to lead the town toward that vision?
My vision for Ledyard is a community with quality of life and a responsible government that serves the needs of all its citizens. This can be facilitated by a Mayor who is professional, efficient and open.
Professional – I will apply my 25 years of management and problem solving experience to lead by example and set a standard of service and excellence in our town hall.
Efficient – as Mayor I will empower our highly trained employees to aggressively look for areas of shared resources within our towns and across our region.
Open - as Mayor I will provide effective, clear, and continuous channels of communication with town employees, the Board of Education, the Town Council, State legislators, the business community, and the taxpayer.
My long career in private industry, where innovation is the key to survival, and my many years of elected government experience are the right combination to make this vision a reality.
Next up: Mayor Fred B. Allyn Jr.