Elections Government Politics

Meet the Candidate: Mary Fay

Mary Fay. Courtesy photo

We-Ha.com is offering our readers the opportunity to meet the candidates running in the Nov. 5, 2019, municipal election. 

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 the 2019 municipal election.

Identical questionnaires have been sent to all 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 voters in being informed and prepared when they go to the polls on Nov. 5.

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: 58 but feel 38

Party, position seeking: Republican, Re-Election to Town Council

Family information: Married, 9 year old daughter, Katie

Other occupation, if applicable: Executive Director/CEO Connecticut Retirement Security Authority; Senior Executive for Financial Services Fortune 50 companies

Political experience: Currently a town councilor, serving on budget and finance and human services committees; prior served on Library Board, Save our water, and volunteer in many school and civic activities; on Political Action Committee executive board for my prior private sector company.

Other relevant experience: Senior Executive for Fortune 50 companies; leading retirement and healthcare businesses, overseeing large budgets and P&L, Six Sigma efficiency

Why are you running for office?  I love our town and beautiful state. I’m concerned about affordability in town, sustainability, and people who do not have a voice. Increased budgets, taxes, liabilities, and the expense trajectory we are on is unsustainable. It is hurting seniors, young singles and families, the middle class and business. Despite our grand list growing modestly, taxes outpace this growth. At the same time, while costs keep going up, services are declining. We need to preserve education excellence, public safety, parks, and start fixing roads and infrastructure. We need to hear other voices at the table, collaborate, and work on behalf of residents and business owners. I want to represent all residents, regardless of party, or no party. It’s simply a matter of fairness, and solving local problems and issues should not be partisan. We need new, fresh, bold ideas. I am proud to be a fiscal conservative. My record shows that I have not just voted along party lines. Last night, I voted with the majority, to approve the West Hartford Fellowship Housing renovation. We have to be fair to all who call West Hartford home.

What issue(s) are your primary area of focus? Making sure we maintain the things that make West Hartford great. Strong schools, good parks, good youth programs, public safety, taking care of each other. And keeping a handle on costs, taxes, crime, and other things that are looming out there. Pension and benefit liabilities are large here in West Hartford, as they are in Connecticut. We need to make sure we have the funds available, and to maintain parks, roads, and infrastructure. Again, it is about fairness. We need to change so long time residents, young singles and families, the middle class, and seniors can continue to afford to live here. It’s about fairness. I want to give those without a voice the chance to be heard. West Hartford needs to work for all of us.

What do you feel is the biggest issue facing West Hartford today? I think increasing costs. We are seeing folks leave for other communities, such as Farmington, Avon, Simsbury, and Glastonbury due to our high mill rate and taxes. We are approaching the level of big cities. Many municipalities have been able to keep taxes flat, but we have not.  And costs are going up at an alarming rate, far surpassing inflation. The private sector knows how to manage costs, but the public Democrat run does not at the state or town level. All you need to do is look at the cost and tax trend line over nearly two decades…up, up, up. We need to bring discipline and accountability into the process. Ever increasing taxes are dampening housing values. Some homes are sitting on the market for many months. In fact, as I was door knocking, a family I met campaigning and are strong supporters of mine, are leaving CT for Atlanta. They were raised here in town. The got better, higher paying jobs, and a lovely newer home 3 times the size of their house in West Hartford, on a much larger lot, was 1/3 of the taxes they pay here. Add sales tax, income tax, gas tax, property tax on cars, career opportunities to the mix and sadly, it just made sense for them to leave. My fear is more folks are feeling this way, and we are beginning to see more leaving in our population and business numbers. We need to reverse this asap.

Please provide a brief statement regarding your opinion of the Town of West Hartford’s fiscal situation, and what, if anything, can be immediately addressed. (This question is more relevant to Town Council candidates, but Board of Education candidates are welcome to comment on the school budget.) I have brought forward many ideas. We have to address labor contracts. Again, it is about fairness. Why should public employees make more and enjoy benefits that tax payers, who fund them, do not? Salaries and benefits are much higher than the private sector, what taxpayers earn and retire on. We need to get them in line, fairly. We need to address unfunded benefit liabilities without continuing to kick the can down the road. We have to consider some difficult decisions to make government more efficient. We need to give surpluses back to residents to keep the mill rate stable, instead of spending it on fancy vehicles. We need to be smart about development to maintain property values, often people’s largest asset. We need to address declining school enrollment while keeping schools strong. We have to continue combining internal functions. We need to settle the MDC ad valorem tax once and for all. There are lots of things we can do without sacrificing quality.

What do you feel differentiates you from other candidates also running for this position? I work hard, listen to residents and businesses, and understand budgets and numbers. I like to focus on the positive, and chip away at the looming things coming around the corner. I like to problem solve. I can put myself in the other person’s shoes, because I have probably walked in the other person’s shoes. I have been a leader for a long time, whether through sports in high school and college, in business, and in the community. It’s important to treat people fairly, and have the courage to stand up for what is right. And acting on the best interest of the town and people and business, not petty political partisanship. I want to represent all the people of West Hartford, not just some; I want all voices to be heard.

Anything else you would like to share?  I’m committed to making West Hartford as good as it can be, and keeping the things that make us strong. But we need to recognize financial danger is looming, and as of now, there is no plan to stem costs and taxes. We need to sit down, roll up our sleeves, and solve our fiscal issues together. I am hopeful that the Democrats have this desire to do so as well, because until Republican fiscal conservatives have the majority, 3 councilors cannot overrule 6. But I will not give up, it’s a worthy effort that can yield results. 

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