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Meet the Candidate: Mary Fay

Mary Fay. Submitted photo (we-ha.com file photo)

We-Ha.com is offering our readers the opportunity to meet the candidates running for election on Nov. 7, 2017.

Compiled by Ronni Newton

We-Ha.com is offering our readers the opportunity to “Meet the Candidate” – designed to help them get to know the candidates running for office in West Hartford’s Nov. 7, 2017, municipal election.

Identical questionnaires have been sent to all major party candidates, and each profile received has been submitted directly to We-Ha.com by the candidate or the candidate’s campaign management. The responses have not been edited but have been formatted to match our publication style. Questions left blank have been deleted.

As profiles are received, they will be published on We-Ha.com under the “Government” tab. We-Ha.com is not making endorsements of any political candidates but we are publishing this information in order to assist West Hartford voters in being informed and prepared when they go to the polls on Nov. 7.

If you are a candidate and wish to submit a profile, please return it by email to Ronni Newton at [email protected] as soon as possible.

Name: Mary M. Fay

Age: 56

Party, position seeking:Republican, Town Councilor

Family information: Married to Mary Smith, and together we are raising a 7-year-old daughter, Katie, who attends Morley School. I have a large, extended family in the area, and get togethers and holidays include 18 people at a minimum. My in-laws are spread throughout the country, and we see each other often.

Other occupation, if applicable:Senior Executive, Financial Services. I have led businesses as Senior Vice President at GE, Sun Life, ING and others. I have experience with budgets, strategic planning, finance, operations and boards. In these roles I’ve been a change agent and turned around businesses.

Political experience: This is my first formal entry into the fore-front of the political sphere. I was president of my high school class. I’ve participated in many campaigns for a variety of candidates, beginning in high school. In executive roles, politics play a role as well, and meeting a variety of constituents needs (employees, customers, shareholders) is essential.

Other relevant experience: I have been an activist, speaking out for issues such as land conservation and for water controls and MDC oversight. I have been a long-standing volunteer in town, serving on the West Hartford Library Board, and at Morley School and the Senior Center. I serve on the board of overseers at Newton-Wellesley Hospital, and volunteer for the annual greater Hartford St. Patrick’s Day parade. I was a member of the inaugural West Hartford Parent Leadership Training Institute and was elected class speaker. I’m the treasurer of a community garden. I’ve led diversity and inclusion groups at major companies. I was named a “Top Woman in Business” by Hartford Business Journal.

Why are you running for office? I love Connecticut and West Hartford. It is painful to see the financial condition that Hartford and Connecticut, and quite frankly West Hartford are in. Those of us paying attention could see the financial tsunami that was coming; and policy decisions that could have helped stem the tide ignored by the majority party. Now we are in severe crisis, still without a state budget, facing municipal aid cuts and negative bond rating implications. I see West Hartford facing these same issues, (we just received a negative outlook rating from Moody’s) and know that my experience, financial acumen, leadership, problem solving and collaboration capabilities are needed and can help. The spending growth and resulting tax increases the majority party in our town has implemented year over year are hurting seniors, young families, the middle and working class and small business. Taxes continue to increase despite our grand list growing. We, like our state, have unfunded pension and benefit obligations. We need to stabilize our financial foundation and focus on key priorities. The tax and spend policies of Democrats is not working for Connecticut, as has been acknowledged by Governor Malloy. It is not working for West Hartford.

What issue(s) are your primary area of focus? Affordability/sustainability, safety, education excellence, and prudent economic growth. We need to get our financial house in order to maintain West Hartford’s vibrancy and quality of life. The recent credit downgrade to “negative outlook” by Moody’s for West Hartford is very serious. If West Hartford was a public company, its stock price would be tumbling. Connecticut’s bond rating being downgraded by S&P is even worse. The inability to borrow, or at increased interest rates is crippling when you are broke. The first thing I hear when canvassing from young and old alike, is “how can I afford to stay here with ever increasing property taxes, coupled with high cost of living and high taxes at the state level”. Realtors are concerned about dropping property values due to high taxes and a history of increasing taxes. Small business owners are concerned about taxes and population out-migration. People and businesses are voting with their feet. These are all valid concerns that have not been addressed by the majority party, at state and local levels.

Several topics are likely on the minds of West Hartford voters this year. Please provide a brief statement regarding your opinion about:

  • The Town of West Hartford budget: The West Hartford budget has seen significant year over year increases, long before the Connecticut budget crisis and cuts to municipal aid. Yet we have had a stable town population and declining school enrollment. Budget and tax increases implemented by the majority party have outpaced inflation. We need to plan for the future and become more independent of the state’s impact. We had the opportunity to build this year’s budget with less state aid, which Governor Malloy was pretty clear about, but did not. We need to get better at strategic planning so as to not be so reactive. None of this is easy, but we will need to stay focused on key priorities and make challenging spending choices that provide the greatest benefit to the most residents and business owners.
  • The State of Connecticut budget situation: Over 100 days without a budget. The Wall Street Journal and other major publications have written extensively on Connecticut’s financial woes, which started many years ago and could have begun being mitigated many, many years ago. The Democrats have been in charge for a very long time. Finger pointing and blame won’t get us anywhere, but it is important to revisit poor decisions, both policy and fiscal, and who made them when considering who to vote for. Even recent decisions by the majority party of extending SEBAC are continuing the pain. The adverse ratings by Standard and Poors will make borrowing difficult and expensive…and compound our already enormous debt. Restructuring is long overdue. We cannot have a large percentage of our taxes benefit a small group of people. We need roads, airports, trains and infrastructure improvements. Businesses need confidence that we are pro-business and want to help them succeed. We need residents to have employment opportunities and a growing economy to help them stay in Connecticut. It’s too late for GE, Aetna, and Alexion, whose departure’s effects we are only beginning to feel. I hear people say “but they moved to more expensive areas, so it’s not taxes”. Boston and New York provide access to global financial markets, mass transportation, the best medical systems, access to the best colleges and universities, professional sports, economies that are growing, and more. If Connecticut offered some of these, perhaps cost/taxes would be less of an issue, as value for your dollar matters. I love Connecticut, but if we cannot provide opportunities, fiscal responsibility, and economic growth, this hole will take decades to dig out of. It’s a shame that it has taken this long for bi-partisan collaboration while the house continues to burn.
  • Regionalism: Regionalism has many different definitions and means different things to different people. I am against any form, whether redistributing revenues, realigning boundaries, or sharing services if West Hartford citizens and businesses do not benefit. I am running for West Hartford town councilor, whose job is to represent West Hartford constituents, and this is what I mean by West Hartford first. We must always be vigilant to look for efficiency and cost savings wherever possible, and to look for new ways of doing things. The MDC, which I got to know through “Save Our Water”, is an example of regionalism not working, resulting in many oversight and financial concerns.

What do you feel is the biggest issue facing West Hartford today? For sure addressing the growing budget and growing property taxes, making affordability for a lot of people challenging. We need to control spending, and employ smart economic growth strategies. West Hartford is a wonderful place, but all the awards in the world will not keep us solvent, and help people stay in town and drive others to come to town. We cannot follow in the footsteps of Connecticut and Hartford, with eroding financial condition, out migration of people, and business unfriendliness. We need to turn this around. This is what I am committed to.

What do you feel differentiates you from other candidates also running for this position? My business, leadership, problem solving, and financial skills can help us out of this fiscal mess. Many of the candidates have never lived outside of West Hartford. While I have called West Hartford home for many, many years, and am Connecticut born and bred, I have lived and worked in other places. I have gained perspective on how other places run and learned best practices.

Anything else you would like to share? I’m not a career politician. I’m just someone who works hard and has always tried to do the right thing and make a difference. I am a compassionate moderate, with many diverse social values. I am a fiscal conservative, and believe in personal responsibility. For many years, I was a Democrat, but did not see that majority party addressing or leading us out of the financial crisis. I chose the color purple, a combination of Democrat blue and Republican red because divisiveness and blame are not working. We need to work together and collaborate to move forward. Check out my Facebook page @maryfay4towncouncil for more information. I’m asking for your vote on November 7!

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