Easton Democratic Platform

Schools: The Easton Democrats stand firm in our commitment to a top quality school system that prepares Easton students for the 21st Century

Seniors: Continued leadership on Senior Tax Relief and improved services

Finance: Careful fiscal management, allocating resources to your priorities

Environment: The Easton Democratic Party is strongly committed to a comprehensive environmental policy platform that includes the following planks: preservation, conservation, and energy efficiency

Community: Preserve and enhance Easton’s unique small-town charm, rural character and sense of community

Leadership: Leaders who listen and take a stand

SCHOOLS

The Easton Democrats stand firm in our commitment to a top quality school system that prepares Easton students for the 21st Century. We support:

Finding innovative ways to move our educational system forward in a fiscally responsible manner, including:
The addition of an enrichment program in all three schools.
Expanding world language instruction to the 5th grade.
Improving college placement services at Joel Barlow High School.
Training and retaining excellent teachers and administrators.
Protecting the fundamentals of a quality education, including music, the arts, physical education and world languages.
Increasing our efforts to ensure that Easton and Redding students are thoroughly and equally prepared at a DRG A* level of education for high school and beyond.
Addressing weaknesses in our schools through proven educational practices.
Taking a cost-effective approach to the long-term care and maintenance of our school facilities and fields.

*DRG A – District Reference Group A – is the highest school reference group based on socio-economic status and need in the state of Connecticut. Easton, Redding and Region 9 are all members of DRG A, along with Darien, New Canaan, Ridgefield, Weston, Westport, and Wilton.

SENIORS

Continued leadership on Senior Tax Relief and improved services.

Under Democratic leadership, the bipartisan Tax Relief for the Elderly Commission revised our town’s senior tax relief program to provide more aid, through a variety of options (e.g. deferral and abatement), to seniors who need it. Because of these innovations, Easton now has one of the best senior tax relief programs in the entire state. Democrats on the Board of Finance have been strong advocates for services at the Easton Senior Center, and for adequate funding for maintenance and supplies in our newly-renovated building. The Easton Democratic party is firmly committed to keeping our town an affordable and livable community for seniors.

FINANCE

Careful fiscal management, allocating resources to your priorities.

The Easton Democratic Party has identified two primary areas as the focal points for our fiscal policy.They include:
Funding for high-quality public schools and town services
Strategies for limiting tax increases and creating a more efficient and cost-effective town government

Education/Town Services: We will work with Boards of Education and public to provide the necessary tools and support for Easton students to exceed state-targeted proficiency levels. We will adequately fund and enhance town departments and services, including the Library, Senior Center, Police and Fire Departments, EMS, Parks and Recreation, and Public Works.

Strategies for Limiting Tax Increases: There are two ways to limit property taxes: 1) reducing town costs, or 2) finding additional sources of revenue. The Easton Democrats have a fiscal plan that will achieve affordable taxes using both approaches.

On the cost-side: We are committed to limiting tax increases in this tough economy. We can achieve this goal through better long-term municipal planning, more effective problem-solving, cost-savings and creative efficiencies in the schools and town departments, and more prudent financing.

On the revenue side: We will examine alternative revenue-generating opportunities that would offer relief to the Easton taxpayer without jeopardizing the town’s unique rural character, such as:
Rental uses of town facilities, such as unused portions of the old Staples building
Other uses permitted by current zoning statutes, such as private schools, riding stables or other athletic facilities, art galleries, and country clubs
Investigating the sale of permits to out-of-towners for activities that utilize Easton’s unique resources, similar to Fairfield’s beach passes.

ENVIRONMENTAL POLICY

The Easton Democratic Party is strongly committed to a comprehensive environmental policy platform that includes the following planks: preservation, conservation, and energy efficiency.

PRESERVATION

Easton Democrats support a pro-active approach to town and land use planning. Better planning will prevent costly legal battles with developers, which do nothing to ensure the ultimate protection of the land. Unique in Fairfield County, Easton has nearly one acre of open space for every resident. There are an additional 2,500 acres of undeveloped private land 1,000 of which are vulnerable to intensive development. We will:

Pursue local, state, and private funding sources for land acquisition, open space conservation, and farmland preservation.
Fund through appropriate means a meaningful Land Acquisition Fund.
Work with P&Z and Conservation commissions to strengthen existing regulations to help preserve open space and farms, and adopt best practices for watershed protection.
Encourage uses consistent with Easton’s agricultural heritage.
Open to public debate and decision any opportunity to buy a large tract of land within town borders.

CONSERVATION

We will actively pursue an environmental agenda with the goal of making Easton the “greenest” town in Fairfield County by:

Supporting newly expanded recycling programs to reduce the impact of solid waste.
Partnering with neighboring towns to combine conservation ideas and efforts to create a “greener” Fairfield County.
Hosting informative programs for residents on a broad spectrum of issues ranging from conservation easements to composting to encourage individual involvement in conservation issues.
Setting a leadership example through our personal involvement in environmental conservation activities.

ENERGY

We will continue to pursue a progressive energy policy by supporting such initiatives as:

Acquisition of clean energy for public buildings and hybrid vehicles for town use.
20% personal property tax credit for hybrid vehicles.
A non-binding resolution to encourage “green” building practices for all new developments.

COMMUNITY

Preserve and enhance Easton’s unique small-town charm, rural character and sense of community, by:

Encouraging and supporting events that celebrate our town’s agricultural heritage, natural beauty and the talents of our residents in the performing and creative arts and literature.
Take action to create a network of walking, hiking and biking trails on publicly-owned land, particularly adjacent to the reservoirs, or in rights-of-way along main thoroughfares in town.
Improving our town’s existing recreational resources, including parks, tennis courts and trails, and educating residents on the availability of these wonderful resources.
Exploring the possibility of low-impact recreational uses of the reservoirs, such as kayaking and canoeing, for town residents.

LEADERSHIP

Leaders who listen and take a stand.

Preserving Easton’s unique small-town charm and rural character is of utmost concern to the residents of Easton. One clear difference between the Democratic and Republican leaders in Easton has always been that your Democratic officials do not hesitate to take a position on the major issues confronting the town—from budgets to land purchases—and to communicate it clearly to residents. The Democrats in our town government listen to public input. They act on the community’s values and priorities, not their own predetermined agendas.

Remember, the Easton Democrats have led the way on issues that are important to you:

Spearheading Easton’s improved Senior Tax Relief program
Leading on energy conservation with Easton’s 2010 Clean Energy initiative
Introducing healthier food to our children while supporting our farms with the farm-to-school initiative
Fostering business connections during difficult economic times with Business Networking Events
Consistently taking public stands on every major town issue, from budgets to land purchases