THE TRUTH ABOUT JENN’S STANCE ON REGIONALIZATION...

Fairfield’s excellent schools are the reason I, and many others, moved here. I have been serving on our Board of Education and fighting for our school quality since before my children even attended them. Our schools are the backbone of our property values. Fairfield receives very little state aid for our schools. While I think the state’s 27 very small school districts (fewer than 2,000 students) should be free to maintain full local autonomy, if they choose, I do not think the taxpayers of efficient communities - like our own - should have to subsidize that choice. 

 

Per my April 2019 Op-ed on this topic in the Hartford Courant:

"There are still opportunities to improve efficiencies that my be worth exploring, and none of them involves moving students. It is only about sharing overhead expenses and looking for efficiencies. Encouraging districts to find savings by pooling IT and purchasing and negotiating transportation contracts doesn’t seem like a dangerous concept. It would be helpful to our state’s fiscal stability if lawmakers stopped using this proposal as a political bludgeon and instead engaged with their communities on substantive issues within our current educational model and helped find places where there are savings to be achieved with minimal educational disruption.” The conversation is not about moving our children.

Read more:

https://www.courant.com/opinion/op-ed/hc-op-leeper-schools-regionalization-0421-20190421-enk5hgei45dibee7mqbwpljqwe-story.html

THE TRUTH ABOUT “DEMOCRATS HAVE DESTROYED OUR STATE”...

While it is convenient during campaign season for Republicans to claim Democrats are the source of CT’s poor fiscal standing, the truth is much more complex. The root of CT’s fiscal insolvency is the 70 years-in-the-making unfunded teacher pension (TRS) and state employee pension (SERS) liabilities. This pension mismanagement was contributed to by Republican, Democratic, and Independent Governors. I completely share in this deep frustration as 29.3% of our state's operating budget goes toward pension obligations and debt services! The loss of those funds at our disposal is an enormous opportunity cost- it could be taxpayer savings or it could mean a transportation infrastructure that was improving rather than regressing.

 

The first governor to fully pay down our annual pension obligation was Malloy. I do believe that we must be good for our word and that it is not fair to correct the government's mismanagement off the backs of working-class people, so we cannot walk away from promises that were made. Thankfully, the government has not offered those very generous pensions to state employees since 1984 and each renegotiated contract has gotten continually less generous and actuarial assumptions have been adjusted. Now state employees are on a 403b hybrid plan.

 

Thankfully this year, due to the historically high rainy day fund, the State Treasurer was able to, for the first time ever, make an additional payment on our pension liabilities of $61M.
 

Read more about how I think we should rebuild CT’s economy: 

https://www.leeperforfairfield.com/rebuilding-the-economy

THE TRUTH ABOUT SINGLE PARTY RULE...

Fairfield and Southport have had Republican representation in Hartford for a decade. During this time we constantly heard that our Representatives couldn’t achieve anything as members of the minority. Why would we send someone to Hartford who can’t deliver solutions for us? We deserve more than another “no” vote.

I will negotiate within the majority where the decisions are made and the dollars are allocated to ensure Fairfield and Southport’s interests are represented and we get our fair share. I can’t help but wonder if the MetroNorth and our general transportation infrastructure would not have fallen into disrepair had we had representatives from this region within the majority advocating for appropriate investment in the state’s economic engine. I am committed to being this person for our community.

THE TRUTH ABOUT THE INDEPENDENT PARTY...

The Independent Party is an illegally (9-453u) named party meant to intentionally confuse voters. The largest voting block in CT are Unaffiliated voters, meaning voters who are not registered with either major party. In CT, there are 890,000 Unaffiliated voters, 798,000 Democrats and 458,000 Republicans. While the “Independent” Party claims to be the 3rd largest party in the state, it’s a bit misleading with only 32,455 voters or 1.4% of registered voters. The Chair of the Independent Party admits the majority of registered Independents do not realize they are registered to a party and believe they are independent from a party. 

 

Historically, the Independent Party nearly exclusively endorses Republican candidates. In 2018, they endorsed 87 Republican House candidates and 2 Democrats. This year they didn’t host their typical caucuses because of Covid and so an historic 11 Democrats earned their endorsement. Via the caucus system, candidates earned the endorsement with anywhere from 5-12 votes, as reported by the Independent Party Chair.

 

Most misleading of all is that the Independent Party has no policy positions or platform whatsoever. They are just a cross-endorsing machine to confuse voters and help Republicans.

 

I welcome you to explore for yourself: http://www.independentpartyofct.com/.

THE TRUTH ABOUT WHERE I STAND ON AFFORDABLE HOUSING...

8-30g and Affordable Housing:

Section 8-30g is Connecticut’s law promoting the development of affordable housing. This has certainly been a hot button issue in Fairfield and understandably so. Fairfield is already one of the denser suburban towns in the state. While I do wish that 30-years ago, when 8-30g became law, Fairfield would have created a long-term plan and effectuated on it so that we could be in a better position today that ship has sailed. Those lost years mean we’ve missed out on available properties that could have been good sites for development. We are about 2 years out from a moratorium that gives us a 4-year pause to develop such a plan to help us move forward. There is no single strategy that is going to get us to where we need to be but there are several things we can do in conjunction that can help us making meaningful progress:

  • In talking with the Housing Authority, one of the greatest challenges for these types of projects is acquiring land. Typically, land is sold off the MLS between developers and neither the town nor the Housing Authority is ever able to bid on it. We should see how we can try to increase the transparency of these types of sales. For example, any land sold over a certain value must be publicly listed. This way the town can be made aware of it and bid if it so chooses.

  • The town should allow for Accessory Dwelling Units and for them to be considered affordable- which I think is close to happening thanks to the very good work of the Fairfield Senior Advocates.

  • People’s concerns about density are valid, the challenge is that density and cost are at odds. If the town wants less density, it will likely need to allocate budget resources to the development of affordable housing. While the Affordable Housing Trust Fund is a great resource, it isn’t likely to make a significant dent on its own.

  • Lastly, there are amendments I would propose to 8-30g to help us continue the goal of integration and also alleviate some of what makes 8-30g so divisive. I think we should amend the law to allow for the consideration of setbacks, coverage, and height in addition to the current considerations of health and safety. No one wants to live in fear that a 5-story building could go up 6’ next to their house and cause their property to flood. Additionally, I would propose that we earn credits toward our 8-30g goals for the Open Choice students we accept in our empty seats.

 

Read more: https://www.leeperforfairfield.com/post/affordable-housing



 

PAID FOR BY JENNIFER LEEPER 2020, ERIC NEWMAN, TREASURER. APPROVED BY JENNIFER LEEPER.