HEADLINES

Meet Ridgefield Republican Candidates for Board of Finance: Bob Lavelle and Russ Porter

Election Day is Tuesday, November 2 with voting from 6am to 8pm at Yanity Gym, East Ridge Middle School, and Scotts Ridge Middle School.  Absentee ballots will be mailed out around October 5.

Visit Ridgefield Registrar of Voters online here for additional information.

Here at HamletHub in Ridgefield, we have invited both the republicans and democrats to introduce their candidates.

Bob Lavelle - Board of Finance

I grew up in The Bronx and lived in the boroughs of NYC for most of my adult life, working primarily for 3 large corporations (AT&T, Chase Bank, Macy’s) in IT project, program and relationship management. I spent my first 8 working years in accounting-related positions, initially overseas for a large mutual fund company.

I moved to Ridgefield in 2007. My wife, Linda, has lived here 50 years! I enjoy reading, writing, staying in shape and following stock market gyrations. I have also tutored and mentored minority, fatherless young men for 20 years, in Manhattan and in Danbury. My goal is to be a positive, caring male role model and to help these young men avoid the expected teenage pitfalls, and to graduate from high school.

What are the main issues facing the Board of Finance?

Monitoring and adjusting for constant change. A few years ago, out-migration from CT and lower property values were concerning. But the move of people out of NYC and into the suburbs over the last year or so has now raised Ridgefield property values. Will this positive change continue? What has the impact been on school population and projections? Also:

  •   The push for zoning changes and more affordable housing
  •   Planning for and funding the police and fire department moves to better facilities
  •   Maintaining our rainy day fund and our ratings to keep interest on debt low
  •   How to intelligently expand our commercial tax base to shift some of the tax burden off homeowners

Why are you the right candidate for BOF this year?

I worked for many years managing large, complex, multi-location IT projects. My prior accounting knowledge and experience gave me an advantage over other tech guys when it came time to expand my responsibilities. I have a direct, amicable, analytical style and prefer to address issues early in the cycle. I went back to school at WCSU Ancell School of Business during my retirement and earned a degree in financial accounting, graduating in 2016 summa cum laude.

I served on the Board of Assessment Appeals for seven years. I enjoy financial analysis and negotiating and see myself as a neutral analyst; I don’t respond to calls of ‘we have to cut’, but I don’t hold any sacred cows either. I understand that the Board of Finance operates in concert with many other moving parts within the town and school system and that decisions are reached after much analysis and discussion. I believe I would be a good addition to the Board of Finance.

Russ Porter - Board of Finance

I have been a financial professional for over 28 years, and recently transitioned from a successful career at IBM to become the CFO for the Institute of Management Accountants (IMA) in Montvale, NJ.  Since moving to Ridgefield in 2013, I have been active as a leader in Scouting BSA Troop 431 and on the Parish Council of Saint Elizabeth Seton Church, where I served as President during my last year on the Council. I live in town with my wife and two college-aged sons, and enjoy participating in endurance events, like running and long-distance cycling, keeping abreast of politics, business and leadership topics, as well as crosswords and other puzzles.

What are the main issues facing the Board of Finance?

There are a few issues facing the town today, including the effect of COVID-related spending, which will now continue into the next year, the replenishment of our reserve funds, and the continued mandates that originate in the Federal and State governments.  Ultimately, though, it's a question of prioritization, and of growing our town's economy.  Ridgefield was able to weather the challenges of the last year thanks in part due to the high turnover of property in town, and the associated transfer taxes, but we can't expect that to continue indefinitely. 

In addition, the town will continue to face higher costs related to the pandemic, increasing pension costs, and eventually higher interest rates on our debt.  All of this must be well managed and planned in our long term outlooks. 

Finally, the investments we need to make in town, both in maintenance and in new infrastructure, will require deep analysis and strong decision-making by the Board on behalf of the entire town - the economic diversity of our residents must continue to be a factor in that decision-making.

Why are you the right candidate for the BOF this year?

I've had a long career in organizational financial management, and I'm now in a role that affords me the time to be an active member of the Board.  Along the way, I've had to make tough decisions on how to best balance the short-term and long-term impacts of investments and spending, just as the Board must do today.  While we all hope that the personal health effects of the pandemic are going away, the economic effects will linger, potentially for years. Funding that other governments are providing right now may not be as available in the near future.  Smart, balanced decision making now by the Board will help to ensure the right long-term investments and taxation decisions on behalf of the current and potential future residents.  My background, experience, and perspective will help to make smarter decisions on behalf of all of us.

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