SEYMOUR — Republican First Selectman Kurt Miller will run for a fifth and likely final term in the November 5 municipal election.
Mr. Miller will run unopposed, as he has for four out of five elections.
Mr. Miller will not be the only town politician to keep his spot. “This is a very different election,” he said, noting that unlike prior years, there is no competition for seats on any of the boards.
“Instead of spending time campaigning, we’re just gonna continue doing what we normally do and just keep governing,” he said.
Last year, Mr. Miller threw his hat in the ring for state comptroller; lost to incumbent Democrat Kevin Lembo. After this next term, he’s “retiring from politics,” he said, and will consider returning to his former trade as a consultant for CUNA Mutual Group.
But Mr. Miller’s political stint is not quite over. Next month, along with his name, there will be three questions on the ballot regarding town projects, including the construction of a brand-new community center.
The $5 million for road repairs and $1.4 million for first responders’ communications equipment should pass, said Mr. Miller, but the $15 million for the community center is not a sure thing due to its scale and expense.
To spread the word before the vote, Mr. Miller sent letters to the editors of local newspapers and hosted a Facebook live event and question-and-answer session. He will discuss the project at a town meeting on Tuesday, October 15, and will attend a senior citizens’ luncheon to address their concerns on Thursday, October 24.
Mr. Miller will continue to focus on improving the town’s finances; his goal has been for the town to reach a point where it’s not overly reliant on municipal aid.
Last year, when the town received a $1.9 million cut from its $57 million budget, Mr. Miller and the Board of Finance successfully balanced the budget without sending out a special tax to residents or cutting services. Mr. Miller chalked up the achievement to time spent strengthening the town’s finances and preparing for uncertainty.
“Unfortunately, for too many towns and cities, they go for the flashy stuff,” said Mr. Miller. “We’ve been boring and non-flashy, but we’ve built that base, that foundation, to the benefit of our residents.”
This year, the town’s Standard & Poors bond rating was an optimal AA+, while surrounding towns received downgrades, said Mr. Miller. The town also hasn’t raised its mill rate in four years.
Mr. Miller said the key difference is planning. While in the past, officials took a more shortsighted approach, they now plan three to five years into the future, evaluating the impact of all decisions they make.
When he first took office, he appointed a Strategic Planning Committee that created a document outlining a 10-year plan for town development. It holds the first selectman accountable, said Mr. Miller, and provides a clear path for future town leaders to follow.
He also facilitated the hiring of experts, like new Human Resources Manager Chris Pelosi, to lead the town’s departments. Mr. Miller made it a goal of his tenure to run Seymour more like a business: Professionals, not politicians, manage day-to-day operations, he said.
“It’s been a team approach, which I think is the thing that I’m most proud of,” said Mr. Miller. “We have a strong group of people that all work together to get the results that we have, both Republican and Democrat.”