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Seven Questions for John Rodolico

GOP-endorsed candidate for Mayor of Ledyard calls for greater professionalism, efficiency and openness.

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

Age: 61

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

Incumbent? No

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.

Sharon Pealer October 18, 2011 at 10:43 AM
I have seen a heavy emphasis on five year plans in many of Mr. Rodolico's comments. The town's taxpayers need something faster. Commissions to study everything before moving forward take a great deal of time and in the meantime our youth cannot find jobs or afford to live in this town. I also fail to believe many businesses will maintain interest in developing in a town where they have to wait for studies before building. Some of the examples you list are already in the process, broadband is already being expanded. This town needs someone with more imagination and ready to move faster.
Mimi Peck-Llewellyn October 18, 2011 at 05:32 PM
Ms. Pealer - SE CT has been known as the land of steady habits. As my father always said -- "Haste makes waste" & "We didn't get to where we are yesterday" (and without the impact of state & federal decisionmaking) so we can't expect to solve those problems in a day. Consider a diet (of which I am well versed). Hundreds of fad & scam diets & weight-loss programs promise quick and easy weight loss. But for successful, long-term weight loss, you must make permanent changes in your lifestyle & health habits. You have to start sometime & get on with it. Mr. Rodolico's plan of attack is no fad or scam plan - it is the basic calories and exercise plan that will "get on with it." It begins with professional management (our charter reflects that that is the Mayor's primary responsibility). It is about creating efficiencies in general government that make Ledyard more business & taxpayer friendly and it is about an openness that is based on bipartisan cooperation & promotes collaboration throughout the town and our region. That starts on election day. As for the 5 year plan - we need to know where we want to go & how we are going to get there. The Board of Ed is a good example. There are short-term & long-term objectives to reach our goals.. Like the diet - we have to start it and get on with it. Like the diet, it takes changing habits &what hasn't worked. Rome wasn't built in a day - either was Ledyard. Do I wish we could hurry up and just get it done? Of course. .
Ted Nunes October 18, 2011 at 06:05 PM
For once, someone please give us a plan of action with a defined timeline and measurable goals. As my father always said, "!@#$ or get off the pot!".
Sharon Pealer October 18, 2011 at 06:35 PM
As I understand it, you are saying that the Rodolico supporters want to keep development on the path it has been on. Continue to rely on single family homes to provide a tax base. I agree that plans must be made, but I believe that they need to be made on a schedule that benefits all town residents. Mr. Rodolico stated that he believes a five year plan is important before the endorsement of the Water park to prevent costs from rising. I happen to believe that this is short sighted. We live in an age of communication and information. It would be easy to call other towns that host such venues and ask what costs they have been confronted with. Then work coverage of those costs into the proposal. Those steady habits have not been working out too well for the tax burdened residents of the town for a long time.
Mimi Peck-Llewellyn October 18, 2011 at 06:54 PM
Translation - "Get on with it"
Maze Stephan October 19, 2011 at 04:19 AM
Independent police department... well, I think it makes financial sense and will clearly define the leadership hierarchy within the department. Ledyard pays big bucks for a resident state trooper. I would like to see those funds used for training, budget reduction and to support our local cops. Why doesn't the town leadership ASK the current Police Officers what they'd like to have happen and try to remove the police department from the politics?
Edee Smith October 19, 2011 at 07:55 PM
Have you ever been to a town meeting and listened to the Town Council tear the mayor apart because things take time. It is disgusting.
RICHARD PASQUALINI JR. October 22, 2011 at 09:00 AM
This is the same person who was on the counsel when they were considered the pension board. This was the same person that was on the counsel when the pension money was not being invested and only earning what anyone would in a normal bank account. This is the same person who was on the counsel when the found out it was not being invested. Now that the Town did not invest the monies, nor paid in their share of the monies into the pension, this person thinks moving employee's into a defined account (401K) would best suit the town. Sounds like the old Republican banter from Bush, but when the market collapsed and they saw millions of people lose their 401K funds, that idea was never spoke about again. I have read the above and found it interesting that he supports bring businesses into town to increase the tax base, but if you read closer, those businesses should be what the community needs. So this to me sounds like selective business, not creating an environment for ANY business, but only what the community needs. I also read that he wants studies done and sticking to a 5 year plan. Well, the town has done 3 studies within the past 27 years with the last one being done two years ago, concerning an independent police department. ALL of the studies supported the idea and showed a savings, along with an increase in grant monies. This person was on the counsel during one of those studies as well. The monies spent on studies could support a third world country.

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