Robert L. Testa deserves high marks for persistence. For a third election is he challenging long-time incumbent First Selectman Nicholas H. Mullane II and for a third time he gets our backing. Mr. Testa would offer a fresh perspective on meeting the challenges facing the town, including trying to expand a tax base that is overwhelmingly dependent on homeowners, reversing the rash of vacancies seen along its only commercial stretch on Route 2, and bringing town government into the 21st century technologically.
Mr. Mullane defeated Mr. Testa in 2011 and 2007. Both are Republicans and fiscally conservative. After failing to win the party nomination, Mr. Testa opted to petition his way onto the ballot.
No one is going to top Mr. Mullane when it comes to experience. He has served 26 years - 13 terms - at first selectman. He has an impressive wealth of knowledge about the nuances of municipal government, its relationship with the state, and about tribal affairs. It would be difficult for any new leaders to squeeze more savings out of the town budget than has been case under the Mullane administration.
Yet the flip side of experience is staleness, the tendency to do things the same way because that is how they have always been done; a difficulty in imagining a new viewpoint.
There is soundness but no magic in Mr. Testa's call for creating a "responsible economic development plan that will assist in easing the increasing tax burden" or his call to "focus our efforts on a revitalization and re-investment plan for our existing commercial opportunities and make an honest effort to fill the vacant businesses." There is the potential for the town to benefit from a fresh outlook at the top leadership position. Chairman of the Board of Education, Mr. Testa has the experience and ability to serve as chief executive.
He also wants to make use of social networking to better communicate with townspeople, including providing digital video recording of the meetings of key boards for webcast viewing by the public.
No one should minimize Mr. Mullane's long and energetic service to his community, but first selectman is not a lifetime appointment. In the North Stonington race for first selectman, The Day endorses Robert L. Testa.