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Common Council, District E: James Frayer

District E, Democrat

James Frayer. (Contributed)
  • 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.

Early in my business career, I was the founder and principal of a waterfront consulting company that advised shorefront property and marina owners on permitting, environmentally responsible development, and financing opportunities. I was also the founder of the Rowayton Yacht Club which preserved an historic waterfront building in the village of Rowayton. Most of my business experience was in financial management of several large corporations and consulting companies.  Prior to my retirement in 2016, I served as Senior Vice President, at Citigroup where I was responsible for managing a budget of nearly $8 billion.  In 2018, I was appointed to the Board of Estimate and Taxation and participated in the reviewing the Norwalk’s operational departments and the Board of Education budgets and setting of the Mill Rate for the residential tax levy. I was appointed to fill the seat of Tom Livingston in June and have participated on the Land Use & Building, Ordinance, Economic and Community Development, and Public Works Committees.

If elected, I intend to continue participation on the Land Use, ECD, where I can rely on my experience from my consulting background and environmental work on the waterfront. In addition, I look forward to continuing on the Ordinance committee and believe the Finance and Claims committee could benefit from my BET and Corporate finance experience, particularly in adapting the latest budgeting methodologies such as behavioral economic theory.  My corporate experience will be helpful in improving the working relationship with the Board of Ed.

  • 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? 

I believe the Charter Revision Commission has made strides this past year, however there is work to be done.  I would support continuing the work of the Commission.  I would prefer to solicit the ideas from our constituents before setting priorities.  However, some points that might be explored would be the terms of the mayor and council, the overall budget process, as well as continuing to make the Charter more relevant to the citizens.

  •  Do you believe Norwalk should have a Civilian Police Review Board and why or why not?

At this time I do not see the need for a Civilian Police Review Board.  Crime in the City in many sectors is on the decline. Overall crime is down 7% since 2013.  The Charter which we are confident will be approved expands the Police Commission to five members which should enhance the oversight of the department.  The City has an new Police Dashboard which provides statistics on crime and arrests making the operations of the department very transparent.

  • 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 have been involved in the development of the budget for several years.  Each year both the operational and the BOE side learn a bit more about presentation and transparity of their requests.  This year the Mayor has mandated meetings to take place between the staffs of the City’s CFO and his counterpart on the BOE.  Getting a better understanding of the needs and challenges of each should party will bring better cooperation and perhaps synergistic solutions to challenges.  Representatives of the Council should be involved in these meetings to facilitate discussion.

  • “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?

The Ordinance committee is working on a Fair Housing Fund that would assist in renovations of existing housing and perhaps make it possible for lower income families to attain the goal of homeownership.  As a member of the Economic & Community Development committee, this would be an area where we could develop economic incentives such as supporting HUD 202 section 8 senior housing.  Having been President of the Rowayton Senior Housing Corporation I am aware of the numerous sources for funding such housing opportunities.

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

There are many opportunities we can pursue to begin to reduce our carbon footprint.  Greater use of electric vehicles, but we need to continue looking at more facilities for charging including solar panels in outdoor parking lots for charging EVs. Expanding our tree canopy, we have a tree inventory which will allow us to identify areas in the City where we can get the greatest impact. Adopting our “Complete Street” initiative that will promote pedestrian access, greater use of bicycles, and innovative allocation of space in front of retail establishments. Finally, for all new development we should encourage “green roofs” a concept where gardens and even farms are grown on the roof of an apartment, school, or manufacturing/storage buildings.

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