I have been proud to call Danbury home for my entire life, just like my family before me. My great-grandparents owned Colony Grille on North Street, and I hope I am honoring their legacy today by owning my own small business in Danbury. Our city has changed drastically since my great-grandparents opened the doors to the restaurant, but I believe that if we’re going to improve our city, we need change in our highest office now.
I have devoted my career to serving our community. I was inspired to run for office when I saw those in service advocate and create real change while I worked as a coordinator for Danbury’s Department of Elderly Services and later when I began my career as legal counsel to the Carpenters’ Union. I have dedicated my life fighting for those who feel like they don’t have a voice. It has been my privilege to serve the people of Danbury as a former City Council president and now as a workers’ compensation attorney.
The fact is, 18 years ago when I first ran for mayor we were talking about the same issues we are today. And in those years, these issues have only gotten worse. Our city’s government is not keeping up. There is no vision or plan for civic goals. This needs to change. That’s why I’m running for mayor.
What we have in front of us are a set of challenges: We have seriously overcrowded schools that are in the midst of a $1.3 million funding emergency; our roads are in disrepair; we have a downtown that hasn’t improved at all in the last 18 years; and our taxes have gone up 25 percent in the last decade.
Over-development has worn out our roads and increased traffic congestion. Road repair shouldn’t be done only in an election year. I’ll commission an in-depth traffic plan — the first in decades. I’ll ensure there’s extensive input from you and transparent discussion.
Economic development has moved away from City Center. Downtown should be an economic engine. Investing there will increase grand list growth, keeping taxes stable. Attracting businesses, making downtown a destination, and drawing market-rate housing for young people, senior citizens, and working families is paramount. As mayor, I’ll promote our city personally. I’ll be focused on making our community better for all, and not with an eye toward higher office.
The current administration 18 years ago inherited a city with the second lowest effective property tax rate in the state. We had years without property tax increases. We shared the lowest unemployment in the state. Danbury was the second safest city in New England. We had a dedicated community policing division and a funded complement of 153 police. Today, there are fewer police than 18 years ago. Our downtown was progressing with a lively dining and entertainment component. The Green, Ice Arena, Patriot Garage, Liberty Townhomes, new Commuter Rail, and Union Station were among noteworthy improvements. These accomplishments occurred while I was a leader of the City Council. Since then, the “needle” hasn’t moved.
The mayor likes to take credit for things he inherited — these achievements were accomplished before him by the foresight and will of our city’s remarkable people and leadership that made that progress possible.
We entrust the people we elect to do right by us — to fix problems, to work hard every day, and to get the job done. I’m running for mayor putting forward solutions. I’m taking a problem-solver’s approach to Danbury’s issues. I don’t want to be the longest serving mayor, I want to be the most effective. Change is here. Change is now.
Chris Setaro is the Democratic candidate for mayor of Danbury. Originally published in The Danbury News-Times on October 20.