Common Council, District D: Douglas Sutton

Doug Sutton. (File photo)

District D, Democrat

  • Describe how your occupation will assist you in serving Norwalk and give three brief but specific examples, including what committees on which you hope to serve.

I, Douglas W. Sutton, am a Retired Science Teacher from the New Canaan Public School System. My wife, Edna, and I have resided in Norwalk for 40+ years and have raised three (3) Adult-Offsprings: Karen, Craig, and Brian.  As a Public School Teacher, I was a Civil/Public Servant for 35-years and sought to educate and inspire America’s Scholars and America’s future Citizen-Leaders.  Fundamentally, ALL Elected Officials are, also, Public Servants who are “granted the trust of service” by the Citizen-Voters in Norwalk’s Representative Democracy.  Thus, my legacy of Public/Community Service will continue.
  Three (3) examples are:

          Establishing and achieving qualitative and quantitative goals and objectives
          Striving for greater knowledge, understanding, and excellence
          Communicating, inspiring, building consensus, and trust among diverse perspectives

Committees on which I would hope to serve are:
            I’m not sure; however, as a former Common Councilman (District “D” At-Large; 2000-2010), I will serve where needed.  Although, some committee names (and, I assume, functions) have changed, I have served on the following Committees:

  • Finance and Claims
  • Land and Building Management
  • Ordinance
  • Public Safety (and General Government)
  • The Norwalk Charter is on the ballot for its first major revision in about 100 years. Assuming it passes, would you support forming a new Charter Revision Commission in the coming term to address unfinished business? What would be your top three priorities for change? Can you explain why?                                                                                                                                                     

Assuming that the Citizens/Voters “pass” it on the ballot, I will support the formation of a Charter Revision Commission.

Three (3) top Charter changes and Explanation (Why) are:

  1. Establish procedures to enhance public participation in the budget process; because, it allows the Citizenry to better monitor and remain actively engaged in the Capital and Operational Budgetary Process in order to assess the extent of fiduciary obligations and due diligence exercised by their Elected Officials and influence budgetary outcomes
  2. Maintain a two-year Mayoral and Council Term; because, it allows for more Immediate “accountability”of Public Servants/Elected Officials by their Citizenry/Constituency
  3.  Require Charter Review every ten-years with an Initial Review in two-years; because,the two-year Initial Review allows the Charter Revision Commissioners to more immediately assess and evaluate the effectiveness, including unintended consequences”, of the “newly, just completed” ten-year revision; and, examine, research, and plan for its “inclusion, modification, or exclusion” In the next “major, upcoming” 10-year revision.
  • Do you believe Norwalk should have a Civilian Police Review Board and why or why not?                           

Yes, I do favor a Civilian Law Enforcement Review Board

The PATRIOT (Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism) Act was passed by US Congress and signed into law by the US President on October 26, 2001.  In part, it allows Law Enforcement to forgo Court Orders before monitoring or taking legal action against those suspected of (Domestic or External) terrorism.  There are many pros and cons of the Act that potentially increase Citizens’ interactions with Law Enforcement.  Thus, Civilian/Citizen Over-Sight Board or Agency is a form of Citizen participation in reviewing Government Agency’s activities for Public Accountability.

  • There is a constant public battle between city government, the school board, and concerned citizens. It seems that all are “dug in” with their positions, eager to “defeat” the other to win their own agenda. What would you specifically propose to bring all groups to the table to solve issues rather than fight about them? Policy changes and revisions can certainly be part of your answer

I would recommend that these “Stake-Holders” go “back-to-basics”.  Perhaps, “Brain-Storming”(wherein small groups composed of members from the various”Stake-Holder” groups) could be used to find common-ground and solutions.  Even using an honest and “principled” negotiation method
(Preparing/Planning, Exchange Information, Clarification/Justification, Bargaining/Concluding/Settling, and Agreements/Closure/ Execution, etc.) that builds respectful and trusting relationships would be helpful. These methods require cooperation and mutual respect by all participants,in order to find
mutually legitimate solutions.  Avoid the “Name-Fame-Shame-Blame Game” and the “Political IN-Correctness”; and find the BEST solutions that serve well their INTENDED Beneficiaries.

  • “Housing affordability” means different things to many people. The current standard is based on the median income of Fairfield County, which is $84,233 per household. A job that pays $30 per hour misses that standard by approximately $22,000. What is your definition of Housing affordability, and do you think the standard should be made more equitable?                                                                                                                                  

Housing Affordability is housing that is thought to be affordable to those citizens conforming to a specific socio-economic demographic (including a certain median house-hold income or range) as rated by a Local, State, or National Government and compared to an accepted “Standard” Affordable Housing Matrix/Index.  From my research, most Financial Advisors agree that no more than 28% of Gross Monthly Income and no more than 36% of Total Debt should be spent for housing.

Yes, based on your analysis, the Standard should be made more equitable; especially, if Norwalk is to maintain and cultivate the diverse and cosmopolitan nature of our neighborhoods which helps to make Norwalk an inclusive destination within Fairfield County.  Affordable Housing can be used as a partial or
potential remedy for housing inequality and will be examined continually  by the Common Council’s Ad-Hoc Affordable Housing Committee.

  • What would you propose to move Norwalk’s government agencies, businesses, organizations, and private citizens towards a zero-carbon footprint?                            

The “Carbon Footprint” is used to assess the impact of Human Activities on “Eco-Systems” and “Climate Change”.  Some major contributors are food and agriculture consumption, transportation, house-hold energy, and fossil fuel combustion in manufacturing, heating, transportation, electricity generation, etc.  There are many seemingly small things that Private Citizens can do, including walking, biking, buying locally, using Public Transportation, driving efficiently, etc. We can all install solar panels, thermal windows, and motion sensor lighting.  In general, the “Green House Effect” warms (temperature) planet Earth sufficiently to make it livable. Also, Implement and introduce processes to reduce the Carbon Footprint related to Materials, Energy, Transportations, Waste Sources, Air Pollution, and Water Quality. We can Repair and Replace Systems and parts of Systems and Infrastructure.  Thus, the Lower the Carbon (CO2) Emission, the Smaller the Carbon Footprint.  Many of these initiatives and more, will be continually explored by the Common Council’s Ad-Hoc Sustainability and Resilience Committee.


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