McNally rallies local Republicans, promises return of municipal pride
There are a fair number of ways to define a rut. Usually it describes a situation that has grown stagnant and listless, lacking in any indication of foreseeable change.
Those who serve in the political arena certainly do not welcome such a stigma, as when former U.S. President Jimmy Carter hampered his own re-election campaign by declaring the country to be in a state of malaise. And when the political opposition brings that kind of notion to mind, it’s a tough shawl to shake off.
Montville Republican Town Chairman Tom McNally led the party’s run to a 5-2 Republican majority on the Town Council not only feels a long enough stretch of Democratic stagnation has pervaded in his town. He is also ebullient over the chance to reinvigorate growth and dynamics there, starting with a resurrection of municipal pride.
“I recall back in 2013 when I was elected to the Montville Town Council ... Kathy Pollard and I were the only two Republicans of the seven membership seats. At the first town meeting, I was made to feel very welcome. It lasted only a brief time,” McNally said. “Then it ended up with everything always resulting in a 5-2 vote favoring the Democrats’ agenda ... whatever that happened to be.”
A tall, burly man with a pleasant air about him, McNally reflected back on the chance set of circumstances that first led him into local government service. Having attended Montville’s public schools and graduated from the town’s high school in 1994, McNally became an entrepreneur with his own landscaping company, T & S Lawn Care & Property Management.
He smiles in telling the tale of his all but wandering onto the local political scene. An elderly friend confined to a wheelchair had been in need of transportation to a Montville Republican Town Committee meeting. There, it was discovered that the school board was shy a member due to a recent resignation.
McNally, merely a spectator that night, was asked to join.
“That’s exactly how my political career began,” McNally said with a laugh. “I accepted the offer and agreed to serve for ‘roughly six months.’”
“It wound up being eight years,” he said. “But I really enjoyed it as the focus was entirely on what was best for the schools and for the education of our students.”
McNally found the time invested to be demanding, but impressive in its results. Soon after, he joined the Republican Town Committee.
“I’ve always been a registered Republican, and felt that the time I served on the school board was invaluable in preparing me to step deeper into serving the town,” he said.
Gaining a seat on the town council in 2013 provided something of an opportunity for McNally, but the newly elected Republican councilor also experienced frustrations along the way.
“In all honesty, I felt the Democrats had no new vision. It was always just ‘cut the budget’ ... and the people of the town weren’t getting anything for the taxes they paid,” he said. “There was no trash collection, and no recognizable plan for improving any of the services in the town. So when the 2017 campaign came around and things had remained stagnant, we took the opportunity to promote and present something more visionary ... while those in office remained complacent about the election.”
McNally described a Republican campaign that contained all the elements of old-fashioned barnstorming.
“First off, we ran a totally positive campaign,” he explained. “We focused entirely on our own platform for change and we went door-to-door presenting it. We also ran radio and TV ads, did ‘meet-and-greet’ events at our headquarters, and we also attended all of the youth athletic events ... even cooking at the football games.”
The oldtime canvassing worked, as they swept their way into office, flipping the 5-2 council from Democrat to Republican for the first time in many years. McNally cites some of the current council’s early accomplishments, those he and his team had spoken of during the campaign.
“Since the state had just cut the Educational Cost Sharing budget by $1.3 million, our Republican Finance Committee worked with the Board of Education and the Superintendent of Schools in reducing the school budget by $1 million, and without affecting any of our programs. And there will be no supplemental tax bill either,” he added.
McNally is especially interested in a move to literally turn Route 32 into more of a “downtown main street” for Montville.
“We have empty buildings along Route 32 that need renovating and others that simply need to be filled with businesses,” he explained. “Our Economic Development Commission (EDC) needs to do more with this. We also have to market our town better and to work on converting our sector of Route 32 into a more attractive complement to the Mohegan Sun that’s right down the road.”
Tom McNally also speaks of working on raising the morale of the local police department and on expediting the process of town residents gaining building permits, which he describes as currently being a ponderous and frustrating procedure.
His glowing enthusiasm appears to have carried over to the voters who elected him and the rest of his Republican team. The swearing-in ceremony was attended by a standing-room-only crowd.
Now all they have to do is deliver.
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