Last week we asked the candidates for Milford mayor to answer the simple question: What was your campaign's message and has it resonated with residents.
Below is incumbent Democrat Ben Blake's response. Click here to read that of the Republican candidate Peter Spalthoff.
By Ben Blake
It has been my honor to serve these past two years as Milford’s Mayor.
Two years ago, I ran for Mayor with a clear understanding of the job for which I was applying. I appreciated that this is not a position one can walk into off the street.
Like my predecessors, Mayors Richetelli and Lisman, I spent eight years as an Alderman and as chairman of that board, learning budgets, the nuances of public policy, and preparing myself for the complexities of managing this City.
Believe me, in this position, there is no time for on-the-job training.
Two years ago, I spoke of my belief in good, prudent and sound financial management; of spending and investing City dollars as if they were our own; about the need to provide City services more efficiently and effectively than ever before.
I can say, with confidence, that Milford is even better than it was -- in large part because of the great Milford Spirit, and in smaller part because each day I work very hard for the City I love to deliver on those pledges I made when I first ran for this office.
Over the past two years, we have accomplished a great deal by focusing on common sense adjustments to City operations.
These include simple programs like turning down thermostats and placing lights on timers, to more sophisticated initiatives that leverage the slow economy and renegotiate the rates we pay for electricity, medical insurance, and interest on debt service. These changes have saved Milford millions of dollars without diminishing City services.
We have also enacted new revenue generating programs to ease the burden on taxpayers. Approximately $80,000 in annual revenue is expected from our renegotiated recycling contract which, for the first time, compensates the City for each ton of materials collected.
Moreover, we have consolidated our Police and Fire dispatch centers into one operation, improving public safety while yielding more than $100,000 each year in incentives from the State.
And most notably, we will now receive $300,000 annually in new revenue for the paramedic services we have been providing for years, but had previously allowed a private ambulance company to collect.
Beyond streamlining City government and finding new revenues, we have successfully addressed long-overdue issues such as: improving Milford’s Senior Tax Relief program so that is among the strongest in the State; pushing forward with critical infrastructure upgrades to East Shore Middle School; and revamping Milford’s Building Department to enhance efficiency, consistency and customer service.
Throughout these past years, I have had the great privilege of leading our City through celebrations and triumphs, as well as bringing our community together to mourn tragedies and recover from unimaginable disasters. As Milford was tested by two of the worst storms in our history, we rallied together and through these challenges, we emerged a remarkably more engaged, resourceful and determined community -- sturdier and more resilient than ever before.
Finally, I understand the need to build consensus and bring members of all political parties together to work for what is best for our community. Despite the dysfunction of Washington, I am proud that in Milford these past two years, with bipartisan support, we have unanimously passed lean City budgets.
In this election, I ask that you judge the candidates, not on political promises, but on demonstrated record. While my record of public service is long and well documented and I am proud of the work accomplished, I will make only one promise: to work tirelessly for the people of our good City. Thank you.