Editor's note: Jason Santi is a Democrat representing Stratford's Fourth District on the Town Council. He joined five Republicans in for fiscal year 2013.
I wanted to thank my fellow Council members in the majority and the mayor's office for working together in a bipartisan manner on the budget first of all.
Second of all, I made it no secret that my top goal was to save from eventually being closed or the school being shafted because of politics. For the last 3 years, it has been at the top of the list for closure, even up until March, when the budget was given to us.
Even though there wasn't any direct public threat this year to close it afterward, there were times, I had heard privately, the school may be closed if funding was cut.
During these tight budget times, I wasn't taking any chances. I made this very clear to whomever I spoke with -- I will do what I can to keep the school open. There was even talk of zeroing the Board of Education budget out, which, we know for a fact, our school would be the first to go. I have a duty to the voters of the Fourth District to do what I can to make sure that school is not messed with or closed.
I made it no secret that I was willing to work in a bipartisan manner to craft ideas for a budget that held Democratic ideals. A lot of things put forth were taken into consideration; i.e., more cops, more positions for public works, more money for community services, and other things.
But the votes weren't there to pass these additional items. Anyone on my side of the aisle can go around and say I support this and that and easily say 'no' because of politics. I am not like that. As much as this may upset people because of the way I voted -- I respect that.
I have one goal and that is to do what I can to keep Franklin School open and get it fixed up so it will be viable for years to come. I will not hide and put my head in the sand. If it means working in a bipartisan manner to save our school I will do that. Ultimately if the voters think I am doing a bad job then they will vote me out. I have tirelessly represented my district and will continue to do so.
Here's what working with the majority got with a bipartisan budget added: more money for sidewalks and public works services, no layoffs or cuts in services, more money to combat blight, more money for the school board, which saved any schools from closing and added back freshman sports, certain spending contingencies were cut, library hours were increased to be open on Sundays, and other items were funded. Please note these were ideas from both myself and the majority.
We couldn't get everything, because the votes weren't there. I supported all the other items, but I had to be realistic about things we could get passed.
In this day of partisan politics, a politician can either be partisan and get nothing done or be practical and be successful for his or her district. I read that someplace once. Good words to live by. I am being practical. Just to be partisan, without ideas, you will never get anything done anywhere.
Thank you very much for taking the time to read this and your support.