We expect Montville will have an able new mayor regardless of who wins Nov. 8. Mayor Joseph Jaskiewicz is not seeking re-election.
The two competing candidates have a clear-eyed view of the significant financial challenges Montville confronts. Ronald K. McDaniel Jr., the Democratic candidate and Donna B. Jacobson, endorsed by the Republican and Independence for Montville parties, told us that balancing the need to control taxes without slashing services will prove a major challenge.
With $1.3 million in annual payments coming due on the $12 million Rand-Whitney settlement, $600,000 in federal stimulus aid for education expiring, and uncertainty about the bankruptcy proceedings involving major taxpayer AES Thames, it will be difficult to limit any tax increase.
The candidates also agree on a need to better involve the town's growing Asian population in its civic life. These new neighbors were drawn to the area largely by work opportunities at the two tribal casinos. The candidates recognize that the next administration must address challenges connected to segments of this community - such as overcrowding and confusion tied to cultural differences - with resolution, but also sensitivity.
Both have government and civic experience. Ms. Jacobson is chair of the council and also served on the council in the mid-1990s. As founder and the original chairperson of the Montville Fair, she showed her organizational skills. Mr. McDaniel served on the council from 1999 to 2002, was the town judge of probate from 2002 to 2011, when the system merged into larger regional districts, and is a member of the School Improvements Building Committee.
But in a close decision, The Day believes Mr. McDaniel's background better prepares him for mayor. He has a bachelor's degree in Political Science and a master's degree in Public Affairs from the University of Connecticut. He is a businessman, the owner of Common Grounds, a condominium management firm, meaning he knows the challenges small businesses face.
Another UConn graduate, Ms. Jacobson is now working on a Masters Degree in Early American and African American history. While admirable, her educational pursuits do not dovetail as well with the challenges of being mayor.
Next to town finances, Mr. McDaniel recognizes improving and maintaining infrastructure is a top priority. He promises to be an advocate for regional cooperation among towns. In our interview, Mr. McDaniel displayed confidence, yet was deferential in saying he will not have all the answers and will need council and staff help. Voters should welcome these qualities in a town leader.
The Day endorses Ronald K. McDaniel Jr. in the race for Montville mayor.