All four candidates were interviewed on similar topics affecting residents.
Democratic Candidate for First Selectman
By Veronica Scheer, Citizen News October 14, 2015
ln a recent interview with Don Lowe he was asked how he has kept up with the business of the Selectmen. As he expects to be elected and wanted to go into this position knowing what is going on around town, he has attended the Selectmen meetings for over a year along with
other commission meetings and spent time talking with residents about their concerns and what might need improvement.
When asked what action he thinks the town should take concerning affordable senior housing, he said “the main thing the town can
do is offer residents a thorough, accurate, and reasonable and fair
information process. The Sherman Housing Commission (SHC)
had worked for four years on this issue, and they had a lot of important information and so much of it went by the wayside. The
Selectmen did not seem to be listening nor was the factual SHC
information being effectively disseminated to residents. What ended up happening was rumors and innuendos took over resulting in the voters thinking seniors were going to run over children playing on the soccer fields, Colonial Park was going to be destroyed, and that outsiders were going to overrun our town…the Board of Selectmen should have
squashed this unreasonable talk, should have recognized it as rumors rather than let it flourish and allow the town to really see what the issues were. There are reasonable reasons to be against this and there are reasonable reasons to be for it. Those factual reasons should have been brought to the forefront and that is the real job of the First Selectman
leading the Board of Selectmen as opposed to leading the Board of Selectmen as opposed to supporting an issue or being against it.
After the issue has been decided, that is a good time for the First Selectman to express opinions. ” He is not sure whether he supports the idea or not because he believes no one in town has received enough information to make their own decision.
When asked for one skill that will be of value as one of the town leaders, he felt it was more an attribute rather than a skill. He said “I like people and I’ve always wanted to help people get along. You cannot make everyone happy but at least satisfy people in the sense they have had their questions answered and their issue “was resolved. . .. So my
greatest attribute is my people skills; the ability to listen and the ability to respond, I am an extremely hard worker and. . .have strong work ethics.”
In response to the question of what, if anything, should the town be doing to support Homeland Towers efforts to install a cell tower to improve telecommunication services in both the south and north ends of town, he said “I have spoken with the grass roots group working with Homeland, and they want a First Selectman who is on their side,
who believes this is a good idea, is encouraging about their work and is encouraging to the public about the need for reliable cell service. They want someone in the head of this town who is interested in their subject and wants cell service in these dead zones and I do.”
What do you think the town should do to support the tenant farmers while still protecting its assets…is having a Farm Committee the answer? He said when he becomes First Selectman he would study the current contract between the town and the tenant farmers to understand its parameters. He is “reluctant to start a committee until I have a chance to work with the farmers to understand their operation and would wait on
establishing a committee.” He did point out that the farmers and the IGA may be competing against each other relative to produce they grow and may bring in from other farms. Don said in a conversation with Mike Louzi, owner of the IGA, Mr. Louzi said it is hard to compete with a subsidized business. Don does not believe anyone in town
wants to lose its grocery store. He does not know the answer right now and believe this will be an important issue going forward.
Residents often ask questions at the Selectmen meetings. How do you think these questions should be handled? He feels the policy of providing a public comment segment during the meeting is fine. However. “he is amazed at how many times the questions are not answered. There are times when people ask questions and the response could be as simple as ‘we don’t have an answer right now but will get back to you.’ My BoS meetings are going to be very different than they are now. They are going to be audible, particularly in the back of the meeting room. I would like to try to allow public comment per each issue on the agenda…and I will try to control the comments to stay
The most challenging item facing the town is “always the budget. Trying to keep taxes low while trying to keep services up and making the budget transparent so the taxpayers can understand it is a big challenge.” How to fund the various organizations is difficult
“and sometimes you have to say no. When previously sitting on the board, I found it was difficult to see people disappointed. There is one more pressing item – town maintenance. Right now, the town is wasting money as the current First Selectman tries to manage town maintenance on his own. Projects are taken one at a time, and now, since the maintenance facilities manger’s position was eliminated, we pay for a clerk-of-the-works per each project. Losing this position also eliminated the expertise of someone in the trades who knows best practices. As First Selectman, I will restore order to the way we maintain our town – it will save us money.”
Finally, he said he is “running for First Selectman to see the town run in a more open and transparent way. My previous experience as a Selectman along with being a member of the Land Acquisition Board, Planning & Zoning, Sherman Higher Education Fund and other groups in town makes me uniquely qualified to be an effective town
leader who will work hard for the taxpayers of Sherman.”
Don Lowe moved with his family to Sherman in, 2000 and became involved in the town by running book discussions at the library and was a volunteer at the school. He served on Planning & Zoning from 2000-03 and was elected to the Board of Selectman for two terms from 2004 to 2008. He was chairman of the Land Acquisition Fund Board, served on the Sherman Higher Education Fund Board for 12 years and is on the
Chamber Ensemble Board. He is active as an Adult Education teacher in Sherman.