You’ve Been Committed to Helping Easton's Children and Families for Some Time Now. Will That Change if You are Elected?
Since Gloria and I moved to Easton 25 years ago we have raised our sons here and been involved in community life. You may remember me from my many years coaching soccer and, in 2015, I was elected to the Easton Board of Education. We who serve, regardless of party, share a commitment to our children. We all believe that preparing our children to be future citizens in an ever more complex society is a moral obligation. Yes, we face some tough issues, not the least of which is the rising cost of education. But we have made it our priority to keep class sizes small and we have managed to accomplish that with very modest increases in cost. We agree that we must not lose track of the fact that schools, along with the character of our town, are what drive people to move here. My commitment to the children and families of Easton is to maintain the high quality of education that we have come to expect. This requires the kind of individualized attention that can only come from keeping class sizes small. We must ensure the value of every education dollar spent and keep our costs in line.
Why Did You Decide to Run for First Selectman?
When my children grew up and went away to college, I found that I was no longer going to watch them play games all the time. The town and the schools were so good to our family, and I thought that I could give back to our community in a greater capacity. That is why I wanted to serve on the Board of Ed. While there, I realized that there was still more that I could do. As I slowed down my surgical career over the last few years, it became clear that I now have the time to devote to the town in a larger capacity than years prior. I decided to run for Easton’s First Selectman and use all of the knowledge that I’ve gained towards serving the town in this impactful way.
The single most common thing I hear is that people feel like they do not know what is going on in town. It’s true that we no longer have our newspaper, but this isn’t the whole story. People feel there is a lack of transparency. There are concerns about the town’s finances, how the town functions, and the lack of a vision for the town. Even those who seek out information about what’s going on feel stymied. Those who go to Board of Selectmen meetings do not feel heard. People are dissatisfied with the Town Meeting process. People distrust the leadership or wonder if there is any leadership at all.
I want to find real solutions to these issues. I have experience with the kind of collaborative and bipartisan leadership that Easton needs, and I will bring it to the role of First Selectman.
Tell Us Something That’s a Big Part of Your Life that Others May Not Know About.
I have always had an almost fanatical love of football. I was on the quiet side and not all that confident as a kid. I loved the sport though, and my parents finally let me play tackle football as a freshman in high school. I turned out to be well built for it and did reasonably well. It made me far more confident and sociable as a teen. It also taught me the importance of teamwork, and helped me to form some really strong bonds in my community which continue even today.
One of those bonds was particularly significant. One of my teammates was Art Monk who went on to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Watching his induction into the Hall of Fame was a wonderful moment in my life. I recall feeling a sense of pride for Art. We grew up in a large town that was racially mixed, and in the 1960’s it was a model of successful desegregation. Art had risen above all of the hurdles and controversy during those times, and when most of us thought that he was being snubbed by Hall of Fame voters for a number of years. In our many years of watching and playing sports, diversity and inclusion weren’t always celebrated. I’m grateful that Art was honored and that times have changed, although there is still much work to be done.
Not all of us go on to play professionally or even after high school. I did, however, have the great pleasure of watching my boys go on to find their own passions, play their own sports, and one of them helped as assistant coach on their college football team as well.
Can You Tell Us More About Your Mission Work with Operation Walk?
There are many rewarding parts to my career as an Orthopaedic and joint replacement surgeon. I consider myself very lucky to have developed the skills needed to perform hip and knee replacements, which are so life changing for patients. It is incredibly gratifying to see so many lives transformed by these operations. I am extremely fortunate to have been mentored by Lawrence Dorr, who is an incredible surgeon and teacher. Beyond the surgery procedures, he taught me how to be a complete physician.
Dr. Dorr decided that we could make an even greater impact by doing these surgeries all over the world. He wanted to help people with arthritis in developing countries, so he founded Operation Walk which has performed more than 10,000 knee and hip replacements over the past 20 years. I have been on six missions now, and on 3 continents, most recently to Cuba. We take a team of about 50 people and (in a typical week) we do 50 or so operations to help people (who had no hope of ever having a normal life again) to function pain free and regain their mobility. As wonderful as it is to perform these surgeries at home, in these other countries it is that much more rewarding. I have also been able to bring several members of my team from Connecticut to work with me. They all describe the experience as transforming, and I am so proud of the work that they do, their care and dedication.
What are Your Goals for Easton?
It’s all about leadership, collaboration, and having a long-term vision for the future of Easton. The Board of Selectmen has a responsibility to ensure that citizens know what’s going on in town and provide a forum for them to participate in making decisions about our future. And, the Board has a responsibility to help Easton residents exchange ideas in a respectful and inclusive manner.
We have been walking throughout the community and talking to Easton residents, and they are asking for more opportunity to understand, to be heard, and to participate in shaping Easton’s future. They want to see Easton thrive, and that includes finding ways to attract new people to town which will strengthen our property values and tax base. They want to find more ways to build community. They want to preserve our open spaces. They want our youngest and oldest residents to feel safe and assured knowing that they can continue to flourish in Easton. They want leaders who can demonstrate what is possible – and do so with energy, compassion and openness.
I’m running for First Selectman along with Bob Lessler who has served our town as Selectman for twenty years. We are leaders who will have an open mind and transparent approach to solving problems. We will work to articulate issues and solutions clearly, concisely and intelligently. We will always lead in a civil and courteous manner. We promise to listen to all stakeholders, and to work in partnership with everyone in Easton. Together, we can build a sustainable future for Easton. We hope you’ll come out to one of the upcoming Q&A events with the candidates in October, so you can be informed before you head to the polls. Join us by voting Democratic on November 5th at Samuel Staples Elementary School, and feel free to reach out to us if you have any questions or concerns. We want to hear what matters to you!