Urgo's experience best choice in North Stonington

For more than 30 years one man dominated North Stonington politics, Nicholas H. Mullane II, winning 14 elections for first selectman. In 2015, Mullane ran instead for selectman, providing transition to the new first selectman, Shawn Murphy.

But this year Mullane is not running and neither is Murphy. No one will be returning to the three-member Board of Selectmen. After three decades of stability, this small rural town faces upheaval.

This change comes at a critical time. The bill for the $38.5 million school renovation project now underway will start to come due, presenting a challenge in avoiding a spike in taxes. One way to offset those costs is to encourage commercial development on Route 2, but in a manner that does not detract from the farm community’s character.

Voters need to choose carefully this election.

Into this situation walks an unlikely candidate — 22-year-old dairy farmer Asa Palmer. He is a Republican, same as Mullane and Murphy, which provides an electoral advantage.

At a recent debate, Palmer named former congressman and presidential candidate Rep. Ron Paul as a political leader he admires. Paul is a cut-government-spending-to-the-bone libertarian, showing where Palmer’s ideology lies. Yet North Stonington has little government to cut.

At the recent selectmen’s debate, Palmer seemed knowledgeable enough. His ideas for attracting out-of-town tuition-paying students to the renovated schools makes sense, as does his support for Route 2 corridor development.

But experience, in living and in government, counts for something and Palmer has very little. Much falls on the first selectman in a small town. Naming a 22-year-old executive to lead a $5.4 million enterprise should give voters pause.

His opponent for the top job is Michael Urgo, 40, an agent with Farmers Insurance. Unaffiliated, Urgo’s name appears on the Independent and Democratic Party lines.

Urgo moved to town a few years ago, but immediately became active, serving on the Board of Finance and the School Building Committee. Urgo’s political hero is Sen. Bernie Sanders. The former presidential candidate’s socialist-leaning ways hardly line up with fiscally tight-buttoned North Stonington.

Urgo, too, wants to push for development opportunities to grow the grand list. He said he will work to control spending in the face of the school project he strongly backed.

Opting for the more experienced candidate, The Day endorses Michael Urgo for first selectman of North Stonington.

 

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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