Our Common Goals

Peggy Lyons 

October 30, 2019

MADISON —

Since announcing my candidacy for first selectman of Madison, I’ve had the honor to meet many wonderful people and listen to their history, suggestions, and concerns. Across the board, people recognize that Madison offers a complete package of opportunities at a fair price: excellent schools, spectacular natural beauty, and a thriving New England community. Like my husband David and I, many chose to return here to start their families. We all agree our beloved town has so much to offer, yet our citizens are increasingly concerned about the viability of Madison’s future. As an active volunteer in town government and busy mom of two children in our schools, I’ve seen the ways in which our town excels, and, unfortunately, where it has fallen short. With a long, wide-ranging career in corporate finance, I recognize best practices of successful organizations and know Madison can do better.

As first selectman, I want to improve our government by working collaboratively with others to solve problems. This includes developing a cost-effective strategic plan that is action oriented and reflects changing demographics, while protecting Madison’s crown jewels: our schools and beaches. In order to be successful, we must keep Madison affordable for young families and seniors alike. This starts by diversifying our tax base with meaningful economic development and working more closely with our neighbors to share costs. We also need to rein in expenses by running town operations more wisely and efficiently. This includes rebuilding public trust in government with greater accountability and transparency, and focusing on our common goals rather than on what divides us.

With these initiatives, combined with my professional skills and experience, I hope to protect Madison’s reputation as a premier community and move us forward. I humbly ask for your readers’ votes on Nov. 5th for first selectman.

Can Rebuild That Trust

Peggy Lyons 

October 16, 2019

MADISON —

I hear a recurring theme in my discussions with the community that people are mystified by decisions being made by town government, and often confused by the motivations behind them. The perception is that everything happens in a vacuum, with little transparency, and not always in the best interests of our citizens. Whether warranted or not, there seems to be an overall lack of trust.

I believe we can rebuild that trust if we have a transformation in the mindset at the top and implement some needed changes to how government functions. This starts with developing better management processes that incorporate transparency and accountability, breaking down silos between town functions, improving operational oversight, and simply bringing people together to solve problems. We have an amazing staff of talented, dedicated town employees who work hard every day for our community. We should harness their skills and strengths to create a more responsive government that is service-oriented and results driven.

In addition, we need to encourage more civic participation in policy decisions through improved public access to meetings and events. This includes better, more timely communications, and leveraging technology for community outreach and participation. The more that people are engaged, the more problems we can solve with the best ideas.

And finally, we should consider establishing a citizens’-driven ethics commission, which would allow public concerns to be vetted in a non-partisan forum and alleviate skepticism over policy choices. Unlike a majority of towns in our state, Madison has no mechanism to allow public inquiry into potential conflicts of interest for town officials or staff. An ethics commission creates this mechanism, increases transparency, and benefits everybody.

I believe a new leadership team can restore confidence in our government and I hope your readers will trust me with their votes on Nov. 5.

"Peggy Lyons is the Democratic candidate for first selectman."

Skills, Experience, and Fresh Perspective

Peggy Lyons 

October 2, 2019

MADISON —

There has been a lot of discussion recently about fiscal responsibility and a need to contain costs. The old labels of tax and spend for political purposes are easy to throw around but don’t tackle challenges or solve problems. We cannot continue with a budgeting philosophy of cost-avoidance, nor can we avoid the need to diversify our top line. As we are already experiencing, it will cost us more in the long run on many levels.

By working collaboratively with a shared vision and common purpose, I believe we can find a successful path that is financially prudent, but gets things done. As a former finance professional with an MBA from Wharton, I spent my career helping companies achieve their growth and investment objectives. Whether it’s tapping the capital markets or merging with another business, successful clients carefully weighed the benefits and risks of different options, picking a path best suited to a strategic need or investor goal. They also fully vetted the opportunity costs associated with inaction—a problem with which Madison is all too familiar.

I am also well versed with the many guardrails our town has in place to ensure budgets are handled responsibly, no matter who is sitting in the corner office. As a former member of our Board of Finance, I understand the crucial role of existing policies like maintaining adequate reserves, limiting debt service, and retaining our high quality credit rating (which we’ve held for many years across different administrations).

Whether we embrace progress or keep to the status quo is the choice being offered to Madison voters. I hope citizens will entrust me with the opportunity to use my skills, experience, and fresh perspective to lead our town with the right combination of meaningful change and fiscally responsible solutions.

"Peggy Lyons is the Democratic candidate for first selectman."

A New Mindset

 

 

 

 

MADISON —

I often hear from citizens that nothing gets accomplished in Madison. High-profile projects like our school buildings, Academy, or the Downtown Center Project remain incomplete. We have a long list of other projects on the “to-do” list carried over from multiple administrations—everything from creating a downtown sewer system to building a dog park. Over the years we’ve spent thousands of dollars on consultant studies and burned through countless volunteer hours to figure out what to do, but not how to do it.

 

A key challenge is that we do not have a unifying vision to guide us. Projects are typically championed by an advocacy group of concerned citizens. The more dedicated and connected the group, the more attention paid and likelihood of success. Meanwhile, the general public often feels in the dark. We need a mechanism to evaluate and prioritize important projects and devise a fiscally responsible roadmap to bring them to completion. The recent effort by our First Selectman Tom Banisch to create such a plan was heavy with aspirations, but light on actionable items, to say the least. It is imperative we develop a substantive strategic plan that encompasses all projects and demographics. Our citizens, so often caught off guard by government initiatives, deserve better.

Additionally, we must increase accountability for our elected officials and town employees. The ballot box is one way, but there are other ways to ensure things move forward. This includes better communication and transparency about projects in advance, improved oversight of town operations, and notably, a new mindset at the top. If we focus on working together collaboratively, rather than combatively, we can move from a government of mere aspirations to efficient functionality.

 

People want progress in Madison, and I believe a unified plan will help us achieve it.

"Peggy Lyons is the Democratic candidate for first selectman."

Peggy Lyons 

September 18, 2019

A Strategic, Integrated Vision

 

 

 

MADISON —

As a mother of two children starting school this week, I can’t help but reflect on the importance of maintaining the excellence of our schools. My husband David and I chose to move here 12 years ago, his hometown, because we both recognized that Madison is an amazing place. We enjoy a high quality of life due to the town’s many assets: the Surf Club, Bauer Park, and a great library, among others. But we are most grateful that we can put our kids on the bus each day knowing they are building a strong educational foundation to succeed in life.

However, we have also been dismayed with the state of the facilities. There seems to be a disconnect between our reputation as a premier, bedroom community and the quality of the buildings we send our children to daily. Antiquated HVAC systems, worn-out roofs, and outdated classrooms are among a long list of problems. Decades of deferred maintenance coupled with declining enrollment have built up a mountain of skyrocketing costs, creating economic inefficiencies and forcing us to make difficult choices. Let’s be honest, the old way of doing things no longer works. A potential decline in the reputation of our schools will drive people to neighboring towns and impact everyone’s property values.

I am encouraged by the recent tri-board committee effort to develop a plan for our school buildings, but this cannot be done in isolation. We must create a more strategic, integrated vision for all our community assets and support it with a detailed action plan. We can sustain the Madison we love while embracing the future, but that requires bringing together different constituencies in town to tackle our challenges in a cost-effective way—and a town government that is capable and willing to do so.

"Peggy Lyons is the Democratic candidate for first selectman."

 

Peggy Lyons 

September 4, 2019

Pass Roll-Out a Debacle


 

 

 

MADISON —

As a candidate for first selectman, I have had many concerned citizens reach out to me to vent frustration, anger, and bewilderment over the new beach pass system. While the reasons for the switch have merit (eliminate traffic backlogs, increase revenue, and offer flexibility), the planning, implementation, and communication have all been extremely problematic. And the intention to enforce it by ticketing over the recent holiday weekend has caused distress among many who use our beaches for family time and entertaining guests. Let’s face it—while well-intentioned, the system roll-out has been a debacle.

Rather than penalizing taxpayers for government mishaps, I suggest the town allow any resident who receives a ticket over the summer to come to Town Hall and get it expunged, as long as they can show they purchased a pass at some point over the summer, even if bought after a ticket was issued. This will provide relief to those who are victims of a slow bureaucracy and incentivize those who have not yet purchased a pass to do so before the season ends.

Beach pass sales are down significantly as a result of the change. We need to somehow recapture that revenue, or we will be facing a meaningful budget gap. Town leaders also need to do an extensive, transparent post mortem, allowing the public to weigh in on whether the new system is a fit with Madison. What works in Fairfield County does not always work here.

If elected, I promise that any future changes to major programs such as this, things that touch the lives of so many of our citizens and involves our most important public assets, be fully vetted with the community, have a thorough roll-out and communication plan, and be beta tested before being fully implemented.

"Democrat Peggy Lyons is seeking the office of first selectman in the November elections."

Peggy Lyons 

July 10,2019

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PAID FOR BY FRIENDS OF PEGGY LYONS, PAUL KESSINGER, TREASURER. APPROVED BY PEGGY LYONS.