Submitted by Barry Weston, Stamford
Six months ago, I had the pleasure of speaking at length with Kimberly Fiorello when she was considering running for the 149th District seat in the State legislature following Livvy Floren’s retirement.
I was very impressed with Ms. Fiorello and am pleased that she is on the ballot for the 149th District to represent Stamford and Greenwich. She is among the most impressive, exciting and qualified persons running for state political office whom I have met in a number of years.
The combination of Kimberly’s knowledge, creativity, quick mind, commitment, energy level, communication skills, professional background and personal life experience make her an unusually qualified candidate. Her education at West Point and Harvard speaks for itself. In short, she is exactly the kind of person who will represent us all in Hartford with the fresh thinking and drive needed to solve our state’s many problems.
Kimberly’s top priority is to re-energize Connecticut’s languishing economy to benefit all of its citizens. She knows our state had the 5th worst economic growth among our 50 states over the past 5 years.
She also understands that a strong and growing economy is necessary for our citizens to achieve their hopes and dreams, and she is committed to supporting business friendly policies that will bring businesses and job growth back to our state after losing so many businesses and jobs to other states in the past decade. Making Connecticut more attractive for business will also turn around the state’s declining population resulting from lack of opportunity.
This will allow us to fund our schools in the way that we desire in addition to funding other important initiatives, such as quality health care, an improved transportation system and many other important priorities to us all. Kimberly has had a long and positive impact on our towns through her volunteer work.
Recent examples include her role in organizing the donation ofschool supplies to Roxbury School, as well as her hands-on participation in a mentoring program in Bridgeport. She also founded the Charter Oak Leadership Program to develop and train emerging leaders in public policy and the political process.
In addition, she is a Representative of the Greenwich Town Meeting. And the list goes on.
Recently, Ms. Fiorello’s candidacy was endorsed by both the Stamford and Greenwich Police Departments. She was also endorsed by CT Realtors, which represents 17,000 Connecticut realtors who are involved in all aspects of real estate in our state. In addition, the National Federation of Independent Businesses (“NFIB”) endorsed her candidacy for the 149th. NFIB is the leading small business association for both our state and the nation.
These important endorsements underscore Kimberly’s qualifications to serve in our legislature.
Ms. Fiorello’s opponent in the upcoming election is Kathleen Stowe, who is currently Vice Chair of the Greenwich Board of Education (BOE). I am a bit concerned about a couple of aspects of Ms. Stowe’s record. After the COVID outbreak, the political leadership of Greenwich decided, like many other towns, to endeavor to avoid budget and tax increases for the new fiscal year above last year’s amounts. Given her position of leadership on the BOE, I would have thought that Ms. Stowe would have been supportive and helped to creatively lead the effort to streamline costs without layoffs and without diminishing the quality of education. I was surprised and disappointed that Ms. Stowe reportedly instead chose in April to participate in a public demonstration opposing the plan to keep spending at the same level as last year. Press reports indicate that this demonstration resulted in gridlock in downtown Greenwich.
This does not strike me as the behavior that most of us expect from a leader in the local political process. In the end, the initial “hoped for” BOE operating budget was reduced by $3 million to the same $163 million level as last year, and, despite her contention to the contrary, there were no layoffs. I also found it interesting that last year’s spending ended up yielding a “surprise” surplus of nearly $5 million in the Greenwich education budget, mostly due to reduced bus transportation, utilities, supplies and maintenance that occurred when the schools closed after the COVID outbreak.
This resulted in the schools being able to allocate $3 million for the new fiscal year expenses and return $2 million to the General Fund. Since Ms. Stowe is said to have a strong financial background and has served on the Board of Education for quite some time, recently as Finance Committee Chair, I would have thought that she would have anticipated a substantial surplus to help fund the needs of the new fiscal year. This surplus underscores that all the hoopla and demonstrations in support of additional BOE funding were entirely unwarranted. It is a bit troubling, as a former CEO & CFO myself, that this large surplus was apparently unforeseen by an experienced and finance-oriented Board member such as Ms. Stowe.
In closing, I heartily endorse Kimberly Fiorello for the 149th District and recommend that citizens in the District cast their votes for her this November 3rd.
Editor’s Note: This letter was submitted in advance of the Oct 26, 12:00 noon deadline for letters about the election and candidates on the ballot.