Fairfield Patch asked candidates to answer questions about their campaigns and will continue covering the races as Election Day draws near.
Michael Tetreau is running for first selectman as a Democrat. He has served as Fairfield’s first selectman for the past eight years, and has previously held positions on the Board of Finance, Representative Town Meeting and Town Plan and Zoning Commission. Tetreau and his wife share their Fairfield home with a 4-pound Chihuahua.
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Candidate responses appear as they were received and have not been edited by Patch staff.
The single most pressing issue facing our town/district is _______, and this is what I intend to do about it.
Growing value and maintaining affordability. The key to controlling our future is the strong financial foundation we have built over the last 8 years. This keeps our tax rate in check and allows us to invest in our priorities. Our schools are a top priority. Schools are the number one reason people move to Fairfield. People moving to town for our schools provides the most support for property values. It is critical we provide top quality education to our students. The education I received from the Fairfield school system has been invaluable.
We also need to continue our focus on seniors staying in town. We have expanded hours and programs along with an improved lunch program at our Senior Center, growing membership to over 3,000. We now need to enhance our Senior Tax Relief to allow seniors to stay in Fairfield as long as they would like.
What are the critical differences between you and the other candidates seeking this post?
I demonstrated the skills needed for effective leadership and I have a track record of proven results. I have developed budgets over the last four years that received bi-partisan support with minimal changes. Through the last five years, Fairfield’s averaged less than a 2% tax increase despite large cuts to state aid, including to funds for our schools and reductions in property tax credits for our seniors.
Our town has been recognized #1 in Business Friendliness, #1 in Sustainability and given an A+ in Quality of Life.
I have been creative and innovative in solving challenges. I am working with Westport to establish a joint Emergency Call Center on the Sacred Heart Campus to improve service levels and reduce costs. I am working with Greenwich, Stamford, Norwalk and Westport on joint Economic Development efforts to recruit businesses to our region.
I have also been recognized as a bi-partisan leader by my First Selectmen and Mayoral counterparts from throughout the region. I was elected Chair of the MetroCOG, which is the regional Council of Governments, and I was also voted in to represent Fairfield on the Board of Directors for the Connecticut Council of Municipalities.
List other issues that define your campaign platform:
After a strong financial foundation, investing in our schools is my next priority. Despite cuts to school funding from the State, we need to continue to invest in our school facilities. When it comes to education, my twin objectives are to make certain our schools are secure by providing a safe learning environment for students, teachers and staff as well as making certain our students have a healthy learning environment. Simply put, this means eliminating the use of portable classrooms to provide security in a single building, and also adding air conditioning to all of our buildings to minimize the potential for mold.
We have to provide affordable and senior friendly housing to allow our seniors to stay in town as long as they would like. I look to expand Senior Tax Relief to improve affordability for seniors.
One of the keys to minimizing tax growth for our residents is to expand our commercial tax base. This needs to be strategic and thoughtful — we don’t want to lose our character and charm, which is so much a part of Fairfield’s heritage. We need review our town Master Plan to optimize commercial opportunities in the area surrounding our Metro Center train station.
To that end, I proposed the town wide Strategic Plan, which is now well underway. This will provide very significant guidance to Moving Fairfield Forward in the years ahead. I am very excited about leading our town into the future.
Traffic is a growing concern. While it is not just an issue for Fairfield and solutions certainly will need to include other towns, I-95, the Merritt and Metro North, we need to take steps to address as much of our local issues as possible. We have a plan to improve traffic on Black Rock Turnpike – not just for cars, but also for bikes and pedestrians. We can now search for funding and begin improvements. We also have plans underway for the Post Road Circle area to improve traffic safety and again enhance routes for bikes and pedestrians.
What accomplishments in your past would you cite as evidence you can handle this job?
I have been able to deliver the lowest 5 year tax increase in the last 25 years. I have been able to achieve this despite very significant cuts to State Aid that included cuts to our school funding (ECS) and our Senior Tax Property Credits.
I was a leader and one of the most outspoken elected officials fighting against the plan to transfer State Pension costs to the towns. This would hurt Fairfield as well as other towns and cities throughout the State.
Fairfield has been rated #1 in Business Friendliness by the Yankee Institute, a conservative think tank and this has helped us maintain a 90% to 95% occupancy rate for our commercial properties.
Fairfield has been rated #1 in Sustainability. This has helped us save money by using solar power and other alternative fuels. This rating increases our desirability for both new residents and new businesses.
Fairfield has been rated one of the safest College Towns in the country. This certainly helps Fairfield University and Sacred Heart University compete for new students. It also makes a statement about overall safety to all our residents.
Our town has earned an A+ in Quality of Life ratings for the State of Connecticut.
Fairfield has been called a model for the rest of the State.
In the very important area of Economic Development, we just had our highest Grand List growth (total assessed value) in over a decade, despite the challenges in our State overall. We have major projects underway at the Community Theatre, the former Exide battery factory, the former Stratfield market, senior friendly housing being developed on Thorpe Street and after the recent addition of the Warehouse venue, we have new expansion at the Fairfield Theatre Company.
I am one of the leaders in the Fairfield 5 initiative bringing Greenwich, Stamford, Norwalk, Westport and Fairfield together in a joint effort to recruit businesses to Fairfield County. This is an innovative approach with the leaders of five towns combining our Economic Development resources to market Fairfield County. Fairfield County is the one county in the state that is growing in population, is home to 25% of the jobs in the State and generates 40% of the income tax revenue in the State.
I work with both Fairfield University and Sacred Heart University on everything from student housing in the beach area to the current Sacred Heart projects to build a pool and an ice rink that would be open to town residents. Both universities have an increasing impact on our local economy.
The best advice ever shared with me was …
1. You are entitled to your own opinion but not your own set of facts.
2. We are how we treat each other, nothing more.
What else would you like voters to know about yourself and your positions?
This campaign is about Fairfield’s Future. This election is about Moving Fairfield Forward. The challenges we face as a town are not over. We will need creative and innovative problem solving in the days ahead. I have been a problem solver my entire life including getting my college degree in Engineering.
I see the First Selectman role as one of community service. I enjoy helping our residents get our town government to work for them.
I have been recognized and elected as a bi-partisan leader by other First Selectmen and Mayors. This allows me to make certain Fairfield’s voice is heard. It has helped me to be a leader in turning the tide against the proposals to transfer State Pension costs to the towns and hurting our property taxes.