We asked questions to Naugatuck burgess candidate Alex Olbrys to help voters determine whether they want to vote for him.
1. Why do you want to run for burgess?
I have decided that I would like to run for burgess because I feel that the younger people of the town have become discouraged with local politics: they see that property taxes are going up and they have student loans to pay off; many young people do not foresee that they can stay in Naugatuck with rising tax rates, along with their student debt. I would like to see Naugatuck gain new businesses and have lower taxes for residents, the true backbone of our community. I would also like to see more young become people involved with the political process, which I hope to encourage through my campaign. I am also running because I would like to see the downtown revitalized into a sector that has many businesses; I believe we can do this through encouraging multi-use development, where we encourage developers to build buildings that have residential space on top and business or retail space on the lower floors. This will create a vibrant downtown and a sense of community; it will also bring a larger business tax base to the community
2. What experience to you have politically (in town, in school, etc.)?
In high school I was not involved in school government, however I was involved in our political action club, which help to rally around teachers at a time when jobs were going to be cut and student class sizes were going to be enlarged. After graduating high school when I was 19, Mayor Mezzo appointed me to the Naugatuck Inland Wetlands Commission, where I have served for two years. In my time on this commission, I have learned a lot about wetlands regulations, and also how commissions work. I also learned about public hearings and many other important aspects of town government. I have always been interested in local government. I always thought that someday I would make a run for the Board of Mayor and Burgesses, but I did not think it would be at this time in my life.
However after seeing the rising tax rates and wondering if I could live in Naugatuck when I graduate college with my student loan debt, I realize that the time is now to make a change in town government. There's no time like the present to get involved, and my biggest wish is that more people - whether they are younger or older - would become involved with the political process of the town and become informed citizens.
3. Do you think your age will be an advantage or a detriment in
I feel that it will be an advantage in the race. I feel that I can bring new ideas to the table, as well as encourage a generation of youth who have been discouraged with local government, or who have not taken any part in the local government, to become involved citizens. However, my whole campaign is not about the youth as I realize that we are only a portion of the town. Many people I work with at Walmart, and many customers who I meet, have also expressed discouragement when it comes to the town taxe and the businesses that our town has attracted. Many people who shop at Wal-Mart express to me that the new tax hike is hurting them; many of our elderly citizens who live on fixed or limited incomes do not get raises every year and cannot afford to continue to pay more taxes. I also feel that I have fresh ideas to help encourage new businesses to the town and help support current business. The businesses that we have here currently in Naugatuck, we need to keep, and we cannot drive them out because they are also very valuable asset to our community and help to instill a sense of community.
4. What do you think are the major issues facing Naugatuck?
I feel at current the major issues facing the town are attracting new businesses. We need to encourage a downtown development plan that has multi-use buildings, and we also need to encourage new retailers and small businesses to come to our town. …There's not much to do in this town. I believe this is a major issue because when people leave town to do stuff, they take their hard-earned dollars and spend them in other communities. We need to keep those dollars here in Naugatuck and provide our residents with places where they can go and feel part of a community. Although our downtown currently provides a farmers market and a live band once a week, we need to do more. We need to provide a vibrant downtown where people go all the time, and not just some of the time. During the days of Industry, our downtown was booming, and Naugatuck led the Valley as an economic leader. We need Naugatuck to return to those days…We cannot let another town or city get the businesses that people want to shop in; we need to get the businesses in our downtown. We need to attract people from other towns to come to our town to spend money and to be part of our community.
5. Why should people vote for you?
I believe that people should vote for me because I will listen to their concerns, and I have lived my life frugally. During the recession, my family was hard hit, and we had to cut the cable. We also had to make other sacrifices. Through these sacrifices, I learned a lot. I learned that money does not just grow on trees, and that it takes hard work to earn it. At some points during my high school and college career, my mother has worked two jobs to make sure that there was food on the table. She would work in an office during the day and a supermarket at night to make sure that I would be able to go to college to better myself. After seeing this, I realized that you need to have drive…It was not easy getting rid of cable or cutting other things that we liked, but we did it and we got through. I believe that people should vote for me because I can relate to what many families in Naugatuck are going through at the moment. I understand their concerns and their financial difficulties. I also believe that people should vote for me because I'm willing to reach out to businesses and ask them how is the town helping or hurting their business and what can the town do to help their business stay here in Naugatuck.