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I often hear from citizens that nothing gets accomplished in Madison. High-profile projects like our school buildings, Academy, or the Downtown Center Project remain incomplete. We have a long list of other projects on the “to-do” list carried over from multiple administrations—everything from creating a downtown sewer system to building a dog park. Over the years we’ve spent thousands of dollars on consultant studies and burned through countless volunteer hours to figure out what to do, but not how to do it.
A key challenge is that we do not have a unifying vision to guide us. Projects are typically championed by an advocacy group of concerned citizens. The more dedicated and connected the group, the more attention paid and likelihood of success. Meanwhile, the general public often feels in the dark. We need a mechanism to evaluate and prioritize important projects and devise a fiscally responsible roadmap to bring them to completion. The recent effort by our First Selectman Tom Banisch to create such a plan was heavy with aspirations, but light on actionable items, to say the least. It is imperative we develop a substantive strategic plan that encompasses all projects and demographics. Our citizens, so often caught off guard by government initiatives, deserve better.
Additionally, we must increase accountability for our elected officials and town employees. The ballot box is one way, but there are other ways to ensure things move forward. This includes better communication and transparency about projects in advance, improved oversight of town operations, and notably, a new mindset at the top. If we focus on working together collaboratively, rather than combatively, we can move from a government of mere aspirations to efficient functionality.
People want progress in Madison, and I believe a unified plan will help us achieve it.
Peggy Lyons is the Democratic candidate for first selectman.
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