Re-elect Lyden in Salem
It has become a mantra for Salem First Selectman Kevin Lyden, “I run the town like a business.” He said it when he first sought the town’s top office eight years ago. He’s saying it again as he seeks a fifth term.
And you know what? He does.
Lyden saw no need for a town of about 4,200 people to have a planner on staff, maintain its own health inspectors, or employ an animal control officer.
So under his direction Salem signed a contract with the Southeastern Connecticut Council of Governments to provide planning services as needed. It joined the regional Uncas Health District to provide sanitarians and health inspectors. And it has a contract with the Town of Montville to provide an Animal Control Officer.
He initiated a move to combine the town and school district in a partially self-insuring health insurance plan, dropping spending on health benefits 15 percent below the cost in 2010.
An aggressive recycling education program has reduced garbage generation in town and the associated costs. And Lyden has aggressively pursued grants, including a $400,000 Small Cities Grant to help low- and moderate-income residents pay for needed home improvements.
Lyden has remained politically unaffiliated, this year petitioning his way onto the ballot.
He faces Democrat Sue Spang, who has chaired the Recreation Commission for 15 years.
Spang has brought some good ideas to the debate. Unlike a business, municipal governments have to run openly. Spang said if elected to the Board of Selectmen she would work to make sure the decision-making process is transparent. She also wants to see the town make a greater effort to involve residents in decision making.
Spang makes a convincing argument that Salem must be careful to maintain some age diversity. Lyden prefers development of age-restricted housing in town, an approach that can grow the tax base without boosting education costs. Younger families can move into the houses vacated by seniors, his reasoning goes.
But Spang has the right approach in saying a health community needs new, affordable housing that attracts young families as well as seniors.
On balance, however, the incumbent has done a good job for the town. For that reason Kevin Lyden gets our endorsement in the race for first selectman of Salem.
The editorial board is composed of the publisher and four journalists of varied editing and reporting backgrounds. The board's discussions and information gained from its meetings with political, civic, and business leaders drive the institutional voice of The Day, as expressed in its editorials. The editorial department operates separately from the newsroom.
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