To the Editor:

I attended the recent mayoral debate between Democratic mayoral candidate Tom O’Brien and Republican Mayor Pete Bass. How these two candidates presented themselves, solidified my strong support for Tom O’Brien.

Tom is a breath of fresh air. His ideas are progressive, forward thinking. His experience on zoning, bike and trails committees informs his intention to focus on more modern “development” by encouraging tourism especially via a Housatonic River trail — a tourist entry to the Housatonic River Valley.

By contrast, Pete Bass seems to be entrenched in that old, dysfunctional mode of development like bringing more “big box” stores to our town that increase auto traffic and provide poor paying wages.

Again, Tom, an avid cyclist, environmentalist and member of the Town’s Historic Preservation Committee, sees developing mixed affordable housing for the downtown, which would enable/encourage people to live there, be able to walk around town, thereby reducing auto traffic.

Indeed, as in other tourist-attracting places in New England (e.g. Great Barrington, Mass., Burlington, Vt.), seeing more local people walking around downtown encourages small business and entices tourists to spend time (and money!) in New Milford, while visiting our beautiful Green and River.

Tom also draws attention to the dire need for more funds for our schools—one of the main reasons many families come to live here. As social science demonstrates, beyond the family, a child’s school experience is next most important in his or her formation. So why is it, Mayor Bass, that out of 169 towns in Connecticut, New Milford ranks 159 in per pupil spending?

Tom is an honest, energetic and enthusiastic person.

By contrast Mayor Bass can be quite dishonest. For example, during the mayoral debate, he repeatedly emphasized the need to attend to “process” in any decisions made by his administration and getting the voters’ input.

We who live on Cherniske Road—a formally designated Scenic Road—know differently.

In the past year we learned of plans by Mr. Bass’ Public Works Department to make a two-lane bridge out of our one-lane bridge.

Violating the Scenic Road Ordinance (i.e. law), which calls for the input of residents on the road, unbeknownst to us, Mr. Bass had spent thousands of tax payers’ money for a consulting firm to design a two-lane bridge which virtually every Cherniske Road resident opposes.

The present one-lane bridge needs repair, but to transform this into a two-lane bridge would be foolish, costly, and dangerous. Right now people drive dangerously faster than the Scenic Road Ordnance allows. The one lane bridge serves as a chicane--a traffic-calming measure. If anything, we need more such measures on that road.

Finally, I am tired of having to replace the struts and shock absorbers on my car because of the horrid condition of any road I travel from my home.

For example, I drive down the Washington part of New Preston Hill Road until I reach the New Milford town line. Suddenly from driving on a smooth, pothole-free road, I’m literally jolted onto war-zone like road.

Mayor Bass has failed to fix this huge infrastructure need. Let’s give someone who knows the roads of New Milford very closely a chance to “repair” this situation.

I urge my fellow voters to elect Tom O’Brien our new mayor.

Justine McCabe

New Milford