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Incumbent Welsh Seeks Independence Nomination

LEWISBORO, N.Y. – Incumbent town Councilman Dan Welsh is currently the sole Democrat on the Lewisboro Town Board.  Seeking re-election to another term, Welsh has received the Democratic nod once again, but is also seeking the Independence Party nomination and will be a candidate in Tuesday’s primary.

Councilman Welsh answered five questions for the Daily Lewisboro about his bid for the Independence nomination as well as challenges that the town faces in the coming year.

What makes you the best candidate to represent the principals and spirit of the Independence Party?

The Independence Party is just that - independent. They can throw their weight as they see fit and are not beholden to the major duopoly. While I hold principles that may be broadly identified with the Democrats, I have shown that I will make my decisions as my personal compass dictates. I think Independent (and independent) voters appreciate that they know where I stand. My worldview inclinations may invite “lefty” labels at times, but application often brings me to a place where, e.g., conservatives may reside, and I won’t shy from that. For example, I think we need to build systemic transparency into our government processes and finance, and am certain that this will find broad support.

What is the No. 1 challenge that the Town of Lewisboro is facing right now?

Of course town finance/taxes are our biggest challenges, but you can’t talk about the dollars without getting explicit about what you expect from your government. We need to face the issues, actively solicit inputs from all quarters, and then take a stand even knowing that there may be an opening for demogoguing critics. The exposure of the finance/scope issue has to include the time element as well - it is too easy to paper over or defer impacts to the future.

What skill sets do you bring to the table that will help you face that challenge?

In my years as country manager (China) for an international engineering firm I was responsible for maintaining a productive interface for large, complex projects and challenging, cross-cultural relationships. As commercial director at the same firm, I oversaw contract administration and did financial analysis for direct investments in production facilities and engineering subsidiaries. Having enough of the “road warrior” life, I career-changed into IT, now serving as the one-stop shop for database management, system integration and troubleshooting for an area school district. In my personal life, I have been an activist for environmental and social justice issues. I believe my passion for the issues, boots-on-the-ground experience in business and technology, leveraged over cumulative management skills has proven of value in my tenure on the board thus far, and will only be more so if I am joined by Peter Parsons and Peter Gross on the town board.

Can Lewisboro’s fiscal problems be remedied without raising taxes?

The town must constantly be on the alert for opportunities to improve our cost structure, but honestly, we have been in emergency cost-cutting mode now for two budget rounds and the low-hanging fruit is long gone. The 2010 financial audit found us breaking even, but only with the application of “one-time” funds from the Levy real estate sale. The town cannot simply hope that real estate will recover and sit exposed with no surplus to weather contingencies. The 2011 Duffy budget opted to emphasize the visuals of a near-zero percent tax increase, rather than allowing for a minimal increase to start us back on the path of stability. In a disturbing parallel to the national brouhaha over the debt ceiling, the ratings agency demotion during this term was recognition that the town government chose politics over making this minimal nod to restoration of solvency.

What is the town of Lewisboro’s biggest asset and why do think so?

While Lewisboro, and the planet as a whole for that matter, would be nowhere without the natural resource base that we depend on, I view the natural, human, financial, etc. assets of the town as an integrated whole. We need to preserve and enhance these assets, leaving them in good shape for the next generation. They are fungible - if we allow our water assets to degrade, there will be a financial price to pay (even if we leave it for the next residents). If we continue to overburden our residents with taxes, we will drive out the youth and the elderly and lose valuable diversity. These assets are the capital that underpin any positive community-building we may do, and any policy initiative may be judged by how it affects them negatively or positively.

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