Bio and Candidate Statement forDavid Bindelglass
I was born in New York city and grew up in White Plains New York where I attended high school and was a varsity football player. I am particularly proud of playing side by side with pro football hall of famer Art Monk. I went on to Harvard College and Columbia medical school and then became an Orthopedic surgeon. I specialize in knee and hip replacements which I have been doing at the Orthopaedic Specialty Group for the last 30 years. I have been recognized in New York Magazine as a top doctor in the region, a rare honor for physicians outside of New York City. While in practice I have been on the executive committee of my practice, chief of the section of orthopaedics at Bridgeport hospital and served as president of the medical staff and a member of the board of trustees. I joined the Easton Board of Education in 2015 and became first Selectman in 2019. I live with my wife Gloria who has been active in town for many years at many levels. I have two grown sons. I love sports especially football and I volunteer on medical missions around the world, most recently in Guatemala
My colleague Bob Lessler has recently written about some of our priorities for the next two years. In addition there are several I would like to add. I believe that in the last two years I have made great strides in communicating to the citizens about what is happening in our town. That is how we were so successful in controlling the pandemic in Easton, and surviving the tropical storm. This is not novel, but I believe that weekly posts and brown bag lunches, together with expanded public comment at Board of Selectmen meetings have greatly increased the level of engagement of the people of Easton with their town government. Views of the town website which is the major source of information for our town is way up. However, I am always surprised that there are still so many people that we do not reach. So many people still ask questions while the answers they are looking for are readily available. We must do an even better job at disseminating information. We must engage more of our citizens. Also we must continue to combat misinformation.
We must also protect the character of our town. We all agree that one of the main reasons we live in Easton is for its beautiful open spaces. Nobody wants to see development in town, but how can we preserve Easton’s beauty? As soon as land becomes available we are vulnerable to its potentially being developed. The only absolute guarantee is that the land be preserved. Farmland can be sold off and the town will lose control over the land. Therefore we must continue to preserve all of Easton’s farmland and insure that it remains that way. In the last two years we have had a great record of working with state and federal agencies to preserve farmland. Farms like Silverman’s have been able to do succession planning because new farmers trust that Easton will remain a farming community and that farms in Easton will continue to thrive. This is not by accident.
Finally, town government must be responsible and effective. I am the first Democratic First Selectmen in many years. Almost every board, or commission leader and town hall staff member are Republicans. We must work together, and we have very effectively, over the last two years. Whether it is mandating cooperation between the staffs of Park and Recreation and Public works, building a new bridge on time and at budget, keeping the senior center open through Covid, making it easier to build or do other construction in town, even in the face of unprecedented activity, we have and will work together to do it. We have voted on 11 items and 2 budgets in 2021. You the people have decided what our town would do. I will continue to try to bring opportunities and outside funding into Easton to make improvements in our town. You will continue to decide what you do and do not want. Together we move forward.
For many years the Board of Finance has been split with 4 Republicans and 2 Democrats, and consistently the Republicans have sought to cut the Education budget while the Democrats have consistently supported the budget – the budget, mind you, created by a 3-3 bipartisan Board of Education. (In 2019 one of the members called for a $1,000,000 cut to the budget.) The Republican BOF Chair would threaten the voters that, if they voted against the budget, then (as though voters were bad children deserving punishment) the next budget would cut Education even more.
If we want to protect our investments in the value of our homes, we have to protect our town’s attractiveness, its services, and its schools. Protecting the schools means protecting the students and protecting ourselves. There is a reason Easton doesn’t fund extra curricular activities, and that neighboring towns have programs we lack.
I do not support blindly accepting the BOE proposals, but I do not accept arbitrarily cutting it either.
The budgets should better reflect what the town wants rather than what these four Republicans want. How can we make that happen? One step: vote for Democrats this year, and we can achieve a 3-3 split on the BOF, and more successfully defend against cuts that go too far. Another: routine use of Advisory Questions that supplement the Budget referendum, so that (a) we can say whether to move up or down if the budget does not pass, and (b) we can vote for the budget based on what we think makes sense, without fear that the BOF will lower the boom if the voters displease them.
We can also have a better process for budget creation. We can assign subgroups of BOF members to different departments, who can meet in advance and better understand how the different departments plan their budgets. We can work more effectively through cooperation without being adversarial. This spring, the Director of Park and Recreation attended one meeting where two BOF members proposed that the P&R budget be cut to zero, a decision that seems to have been based on zero information, while giving the Director zero warning. Democrats appreciate the people who serve our town, and the good work of P&R, and reject such ill-informed surprise attacks.
Our budget surplus grew to over 7 million, and we are now decreasing it. This means that for a few years the taxpayers paid more than we spent and the difference increased the surplus; then the opposite happened and the surplus subsidized the taxpayers. The taxpayers in some years subsidized those in later years. Perfection is impossible, but we should avoid this where possible. We can establish policies and discipline to better manage our surplus, while also doing more forward planning that looks 5 years ahead instead of just scrambling to get the budget set one year at a time. We made a little progress in this direction this past spring; more progress is needed for the BOF to manage this better.