WILTON — About 40 residents attended a meet and greet of candidates for the Board of Selectmen on Wednesday. It was hosted by The Wilton Group and held at Calzolaio Pasta Co.

Selectman Paul Berkey is running unopposed. Terry Brann also seeks re-election and is being challenged by John Black and Gerald Whitney.

Scott Nichols Jr. has withdrawn his bid for the seat, Town Clerk Diane Dunham confirmed Thursday.

The election takes place from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday, June 10, at the Town Office.

Brann said there were some things he still wanted to do on the board.

Berkey said he wants to continue serving the community and being a voice for the people.

Black said he wants to see changes in some areas, including enlarging the tax base.

Whitney also wants to lower taxes and said he feels the town needs more business.

Some felt developing the town required more than efforts downtown. When asked specifically what should be done for town development, Brann thought more effort was needed to develop routes 2 and 4.

Route 2 created a bypass of the town. It’s not like Farmington, where the road passes through to other destinations, he said.

Black also sees potential for developing routes 2 and 4 where there are 20,000 vehicles a day. He suggested providing tax incentives for business development and to enlarge the tax base.

Whitney wants to get something more in the Bass building, something that offers jobs, he said.

Berkey, on the other hand, voiced appreciation for the small town where he knows everyone. Some businesses have come in and Jardens and Barclays are booming, he said. 

“We need to look at the big picture,” he said. “We need entrepreneurs.”

Questions were asked about road conditions, police security, the town library and education.

One resident questioned candidates on whether they supported the Police Department and its $480,000 budget request.

“I support Wilton police, but not having six officers,” Brann said.

He felt the department should work together with resources already available, including county and state police.

Black supports the local department. As a sheriff’s deputy for a few years, he saw how often state troopers were not near enough to respond to calls in time, he said.

“It looks good on paper,” he said. “In reality, it doesn’t work. Without the local department, crime would probably go up.”

He said he was not familiar enough with the budget request to comment although (police Chief Heidi Wilcox) writes grants and works hard to avoid raising the budget, he said.

Whitney said he supports the Police Department.

“I do not support a $480,000 budget. I do support a $460,000 budget,” Berkey responded.

“What’s the plan?” another resident asked. “Without a plan, what’s going to happen over the next three years. With no vision, no idea of the future, things don’t change.”

“You’re a hundred percent right,” Berkey said. “Are we maintaining or moving forward?”

Since Town Manager Rhonda Irish has been here, we’ve developed a long range plan, Brann said. We’re trying to get more people involved, he added.

Berkey reminded residents that they hate to see their taxes go up but it’s not your municipal tax going up, he said. For the past two years, it’s RSU 9 and the county that caused tax increases.

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