NORWALK, Conn. – Olivia Dardy, a Democrat running for an at-large seat on the Common Council, is better known for her exploits on the basketball court than as a politician. She graduated from Brien McMahon High as its all-time leading scorer with 1,967 points and went on to standout career at Wake Forest University. She went on to distinguish herself as a coach at the college level before coming home to Norwalk.
NancyOnNorwalk asked all Common Council candidates to answer a set of questions to help voters get to know where the candidates satnd on some of the issues.
Here are Dardy’s responses:
NoN: What are your priorities, and what do you bring to the board that should make voters give you the job?
OD: I have over 10 years of administrative, interpersonal communication, and collegiate coaching experience. Additionally, I currently hold a B.A. in communication and I am pursuing a master’s degree in business management. Each of these experiences has developed my skills in leadership, negotiating, and teamwork initiatives, all of which are needed for bipartisanship and collaborative efforts needed to birth creative solutions to city issues.
I am a native of Norwalk and have a vested interest in working across partisan lines to:
- Support the educational system and provide the funding needed for a first-class public school system for all students
- Engage with residents and business owners to seek solutions to city issues
- Address safety concerns with our youth by offering alternative life choices through guidance and direction
- Cultivate bipartisan relationships to address tax burden
NoN: Several council candidates listed the schools among their top priorities at the East Norwalk forum, but the council has little control over what goes on in the schools. Other than votes on the final budget figures, how do you propose to have an impact on Norwalk’s schools?
OD: It is important that council members thoroughly think about the effects of our spending and allocation of funds. Although, council members are not allowed to dictate how the funds are allotted, I’d like to continue any open lines of communication in order to comprehend decisions made with the funds and how they will directly improve our academic standards and close the achievement gap. I believe this method would be advantageous when evaluating our educational barometer against the needs of the city. Of course education is a priority and we want to make sure our students are provided with sufficient funding necessary to deliver 21st century learning skills.
NoN: One of the biggest complaints we hear from our readers is about property taxes and how they just seem to go up. This year it’s around 4.8 percent. So what can be done differently, if anything, to hold the line on spending — or even roll it back?
OD: I believe the first step would be assessing the areas where money is allotted. Then decide if such spending is necessary or not. Next, begin to simplify areas of spending to save our taxpayers’ money. Additionally, I would like to develop a new committee with a handful of Common Council members along with a few local and established business owners to work exclusively with the mayor. Our focus would be to highlight Norwalk’s attractions to potential business partners; to seek out industries that offer good pay, benefits, and insurance while meeting their business needs with qualified workers.
Additionally, I would recommend and support the mayor’s efforts in using all incentives available in collaboration with the state of Connecticut to fill our Wall Street corridor, increase commercial business use in SONO, and other available real estate. For instance, I would like the Council members to promote job fairs for local residents for each incoming business to increase any qualified residents’ chance of securing employment. Thereby, decreasing the local unemployment rate, slowly beginning to increase the tax base, offsetting the residential burden, and building a stronger local economy.
NoN: Do you believe it is essential to read and understand the Common Council info packets before voting, or will you depend on discussions, staff recommendations and constituent input to inform your vote?
OD: I believe it is important to take the time to read the packets before voting. A greater understanding of the information allows for informed discussions and questions to be addressed, which can lead to valuable staff recommendations. Additionally, I would like to see input from constituents because such decisions and laws directly affect their lives and we ought to be sensitive to their voices in such matters.
NoN: Would you support the formation of a charter commission?
OD: I am currently in the process of familiarizing myself with Norwalk’s city charter to better understand the ordinances that provide the framework for which elected officials are to govern by. The information is quite extensive, but should the majority of the council feel revisions are necessary, an immediate conversation with the public should occur to confirm such a change. It would be most effective if both parties operate in a bipartisan manner to make any necessary modifications that best serves our community and improves our living standards. I’m committed to exerting my efforts to ensure that the voices of the people in Norwalk are heard and their wish is complied with, especially when it comes to making laws that affect their lives.
NoN: Civility has been a big topic. What can you say to the voters to assure them that, if you are elected, they will find a kinder and gentler council?
OD: I would like our electorate to know that I am approachable, enjoy candid conversation, and I am an extrovert. I value mutual respect and decorum, and I am willing to discuss concerns to help search for quality solutions for our city. Civility is a principal I highly value, yet it is also a two way street.
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