Let’s pull together for today to bring a bright future for New Milford. Having lived in New Milford for over 25 years, I have seen the true spirit of our town. That spirit lies in the people of New Milford. New Milford is a special place with a diverse population that willingly gives its time, talent and treasure. That is why I consider New Milford the best town in Connecticut and in the entire USA. Bringing people, organizations and town government together is imperative as we move into the future.

I believe that bringing different ideas and viewpoints to the table leads to better decisions when it comes to matters that affect New Milford. As town government should be answerable to the public, I believe that we should have a definitive process in how we spend taxpayers’ dollars. Major capital projects that the town does should allow for citizen input, project costs, and plans and specifications that the public can view and comment on. Some of the challenges facing New Milford today:

We need to invest in our infrastructure, specifically our town roads. As public works Director Mike Zarba has stated, “One dollar of road repair not done today costs five dollars in the future.”

We need to look at the traffic congestion and improve traffic flow. We will embrace new technologies to make traffic flow more efficient allowing for a better commute to and from work.

We need to work in conjunction with our Board of Education partners in a collaborative way that provides an innovative, cost-effective educational system that offers a challenging curriculum so our children can reach their full educational potential.

We need economic development. The commercial Grand List has not grown in the last two years. We need to bring living-wage jobs and business investment into town. By doing this, we have an opportunity for our children to stay here after they graduate and build the next generation of New Milford residents.

We need to do more on the battle of drug addiction. This starts with a multi-prong approach that includes interdiction, education and enforcement to help the addicted and their families as well as the community at large.

We need to support our youth sports and youth programs. These programs benefit our youth in many ways. When people are looking at moving into a community, schools and activities for our children are a top priority. We want to be competitive with surrounding towns in attracting new residents to New Milford.

As we look at the future of New Milford we need to plan and address many issues facing us including:

Update and implement the Plan of Conservation and Development to address our quality of life in New Milford and cooperatively develop our Downtown and Route 7 corridor in a mutually beneficial manner: We need to keep the character of New Milford by preserving our Village Green, protecting our natural resources and creating and implementing strategies to market our rural character and bucolic downtown. This will be part of our economic development strategy of increased jobs and commercial Grand List growth to New Milford.

We need to do a full assessment of all town buildings and how we use them and at what cost. I will commission a space needs analysis for each department and an energy review of each building to ensure that each space is used efficiently and economically

We need to develop a plan to reduce our dependency on the landfill settlement fund for tax relief. In this year’s proposed budget, the current administration used over $1 million for relief while increasing our town operating expenses by 7 percent.

To achieve what needs to be done now and in the future requires the community to be involved.

I plan on having subcommittees made up of residents. These subcommittees will look at how we operate our government and determine what improvements we can make for a successful future. Public input is a key to our success as New Milford moves into the future.

By pulling together and exploring diverse ideas and public input on the issues facing New Milford, we can use our own unique experiences and skill sets to make New Milford’s future bright.

From fixing our roads to crafting a future with a robust economy, when we pull together, there is nothing that we cannot achieve.

Pete Bass, a Republican, is a member of the New Milford Town Council and is running for mayor.