The District C Common Council primary election on September 14th will be the culmination of several months of meetings, fundraising, planning and door knocking as we, first-time candidates, have had the pleasure of getting out and meeting our neighbors. We got into this race because we felt our fellow parents’ and neighbors’ voices were not being heard, even after reaching out to our district leadership. Neither of us are politicians, nor do we aspire to be – we are running to be a voice for residents of District C.
In the early stages of our campaign when we first decided to run together, we agreed that we wanted to focus on our vision – providing the necessary resources for our schools to succeed; responsible development that respects the existing character of our neighborhoods; transparent, open communication with residents about Council decision making – rather than what we saw as concerns with current Council leadership. With that being said, we felt that it was important to correct the record on certain points that the incumbent has made during the primary:
- Council member Kydes’ palm card states “Whether it’s a conversation, email or social media, I will listen to everyone’s ideas and concerns.”
As constituents and former voters of his, we have not found this to be the case. We have both emailed all members of the Council, as well as District C representatives directly, and have not once received a reply from the incumbent or his current Council partner. In fact, what drove us both to consider running for Council in the first place was not getting a response from either of the current District C representatives regarding the decision to reduce the budget proposed by CFO Henry Dachowitz by $1 million during the most recent budget process.
- Councilmember Kydes also states on his palm card that he “Saved Norwalk residents millions of dollars as the chairman of the Mayor’s Energy and Environment Task Force.”
Mr. Kydes was the chairman of this task force, however, the only meetings they had were back in 2014-2015 before it disbanded. https://www.norwalkct.org/Archive.aspx?AMID=217
We did not find any evidence that he saved residents millions of dollars in the little over a year this task force held meetings. There were only four meetings with minutes on the city’s website: https://www.norwalkct.org/Archive.aspx?AMID=218
To take this a step further, during the most recent discussions about the East Norwalk TOD, Mr. Kydes did not include or ask for any sustainability efforts, which is something we think is incredibly important to include. https://norwalkct.org/ArchiveCenter/ViewFile/Item/16654
- Finally, Council member Kydes states that he “will continue to be the voice on the Common Council for parents with children in the Norwalk School System.” Again, this has not been our experience as parents of public school students in District C. Whether it was emailing the Council to ask for support for capital projects at our schools or inquiring as to what specifically from the budget should be removed as part of the Kydes Amendment, which was the $1 million reduction to the proposed cap during the last budget cycle, we have not received a response that would indicate our current District C representatives are voicing our concerns at the Council level.
He also claims on social media that “the Board of Education has received the highest budget increases in the state nearly every year John Kydes has been on the council.” Mr. Kydes reluctantly voted for the BOE increases. In fact, just this past budget cycle after public school teachers, staff, and students had one of the most challenging years imaginable, Mr. Kydes hit them when they were down and proposed the Kydes Amendment, reducing an already austere budget cap by another $1 million dollars following pleas from parents to increase funding for the Board of Education. https://www.thehour.com/news/article/Norwalk-Common-Council-votes-to-cut-proposed-15977265.php https://www.nancyonnorwalk.com/norwalk-council-sets-budget-cap/
While Mr. Kydes and those who supported his amendment will argue that the Board of Estimate and Taxation is ultimately the decision maker, the only discussion at that meeting around the Kydes Amendment was about education and the school budget. https://www.norwalkct.org/ArchiveCenter/ViewFile/Item/17014
We are both working parents, and understand that taxpayers, particularly those who are older and living on fixed incomes, cannot withstand endless tax increases. However the $1 million reduction in the budget cap would not save District C residents much money and would take away much needed resources from our schools. Moving forward, the school district is going to face painful choices when the current American Rescue Plan funding that is being used to plug funding gaps runs out, and we would like to be a voice at the table for parents and taxpayers who share our concerns.
Mr. Kydes has served four terms on the Common Council and has undoubtedly devoted a significant amount of time to this volunteer position. While we have supported him in the past, both of us feel that the time is right for a change in leadership in District C. If fortunate enough to be elected, we will be direct and transparent in how we present your thoughts and concerns at the Council level, and will do our best to advocate for the issues that mean the most to your family and ours. If you too are interested in seeing a change, we hope that you will vote for Fairbairn and McMurrer on September 14th.
Tyler Fairbairn and Jenn McMurrer