KALB: This BET candidate knows a thing or two about investing for the future, saving billions, and lowering municipal costs

By Scott Kalb, Democratic Candidate for the BET

When I served as Secretary of the bipartisan First Selectman’s Waste Management Committee, everyone agreed that better recycling of discarded food held great promise for reducing waste, lowering costs, and removing carbon from the atmosphere, but the idea was set aside for some future date.

I decided to move ahead anyway, and I co-founded a company to convert wasted food into animal feed. Nine months after opening our plant in Berlin CT, Bright Feeds is processing nearly 150 tons of food waste per day, saving millions of dollars for businesses, municipalities, and farmers, while reducing harmful greenhouse gas emissions.  

I put the same can-do attitude to work when I took over South Korea’s sovereign wealth fund as CIO and Deputy CEO in 2009. Assets under management were $19 billion and the fund was down by several billion dollars.  It was the tail end of one of the worst financial crises in history, and it was my responsibility to introduce a long-term, risk based investment model to restore profitability. This required both courage and discipline – the courage to invest when everyone was paralyzed with fear, and the discipline to develop and stick with a long-term plan, despite significant short-term pressures.  By the time I completed my term four years later, assets under management had tripled to over 60 billion dollars and today the fund is close to 200 billion dollars. 

This is the mindset I will bring to the Board of Estimate and Taxation, where such leadership is sorely needed. I learned long ago that to put out the fire, you have to run toward the smoke, not away from it. Whatever the problem, it’s important to work toward solutions, not just sit around pointing out obstacles, or worse, kicking the can down the road. We’ve all worked with people like that, and it is hard to make progress.

This is where the Republican-controlled BET of the last four years has let us down, by failing to show leadership in financing critical projects. The town faces over 1.5 billion dollars – not million, but BILLION – of spending requirements that need to be addressed in the years ahead and the costs of delay are piling up.  Taxpayers should not have to pick up the tab for the GOP-led BET’s costly obstructions.

People in our town are tired of delays and the rancor that has characterized our budget process over the last few years. They want responsible financial leadership that will fix our schools, invest in our town infrastructure, and keep taxes low, not a Board that just says no to everyone and everything. 

Partisan politics has no place in sound financial decision making. People don’t want political agendas driving important budget decisions that impact the future of their children, the safety of their neighborhoods, the preservation of their property values, and the quality of their life in town. 

I have the financial chops for the job. Besides leading South Korea’s $200 billion sovereign wealth fund through the global financial crisis, I have over thirty years of experience in financial research and asset management.  I also served on the RTM for four years, gaining a close understanding of the budgeting process in town. 

The key to our future is to plan not just for the next quarter, but for the next quarter century. It’s how any enterprise succeeds and how our town can thrive. If we ran a business the way the Republican-controlled BET has run our town finances these last few years, Greenwich would be for sale. 

Want to avoid costly delays and wasteful spending of taxpayer dollars?  Vote for me, Scott Kalb, and for all the Democratic candidates for the BET in November.  A majority vote will allow us to bring about the change in financial management that our town so desperately needs.

Scott Kalb, Democratic Candidate for the BET
Previously, served on the RTM for D7 
Secretary, Legislative and Rules Committee 
Observer, Greenwich Retirement Board