New Canaan’s Cristina Ross, an architect for 30-plus years who has served on the Town Council for eight years, this week announced her candidacy for re-election to the legislative body. We put some questions to Ross ahead of the July 25 Republican caucus, where she will seek party backing. (Councilman Michael Mauro, a Republican, also has announced his re-election bid.)
Here’s our exchange.
New Canaanite: What is your background professionally and in terms of living and volunteering here in New Canaan?
Cristina Ross: I am a licensed architect with 30+ years of experience in a wide range of areas including corporate, educational, healthcare, historic restoration, and residential projects. My expertise is in architectural design and project management. I am proficient in contract negotiations, budget management, and fast-track projects. My work ethic has always been client focused, results oriented, and fiscally responsible. Working on major corporate and institutional projects such as UPENN, MIT, Central Park Conservancy, Montefiore, Cornell Medical Center, Hackensack Medical Center, NBC, Time Life, and many projects at JP Morgan provided me with the opportunity to excel and deliver with the highest levels of professional excellence and personal integrity.
My professional volunteer work includes designing multiple projects for Non-profits in New Canaan such as the New Canaan Cares offices at New Canaan High School, and the New Canaan Nature Center, which encompassed the Visitors Center, Early Childhood Building, Main House, and the Greenhouse. These projects were all probono to help them realize their goal and maximize their return on fundraising efforts.
Presently, my local government responsibilities include Town Council, elected and serving 8 years, the New Canaan Republican Town Committee, serving 20 years, and the Preservation Connecticut Board of Trustees. In previous years, I have served on the Park and Recreation Committee, New Canaan Open Space and Conservation Committee, and have been involved with many other local organizations.
Why are you running for re-election as a Town Councilwoman?
New Canaan needs a representative on Town Council who can professionally assess many of the construction and bonded projects which are being proposed or are currently under construction. Present administrative hurdles in completing projects on time, on budget, and without cost overruns are of great concern. Legal issues sited by the DOJ, on New Canaan’s ADA compliance with projects failing to meet Federal ADA Guidelines, have also been raised. Addressing these and other issues are the main reason why I am running for another term on Town Council.
I believe that every resident deserves to be represented and every dollar spent, budgeted, or bonded, be accounted for. The Town Council is the only elected legislative body. Thus, experience, knowledge, and accountability needs to be an integral part of its membership to help guide and focus on ensuring the best outcomes are realized for New Canaan.
What do you view as the biggest issues facing New Canaan?
There are two specific areas of concern:
(1) Cell towers are being push onto school property and selected private properties. I vehemently oppose the proposed locations and placement for cell towers. The outdated research reports, lack of consensus within government bodies, and applied methodology have led to a defenseless one-sided solution.
(2) (GS 8-30G) Affordable Housing as a mandate is a challenge that may not be attainable for a small town. This problem has been compounded by a profound lack of leadership in addressing the issue from the start and in establishing a viable plan that addresses its financial cost in a sustainable way. We need to create a vision for New Canaan that addresses town development, and land acquisition, while weighing viable options and tradeoffs. Our priority should be to also increase transparency and keep the public informed.
New Canaan needs representation that puts its residents’ concerns front and center and protects the health, welfare, and investment in real-estate values for all.
What do you view as your single major accomplishment as a Town Councilwoman?
There are two major accomplishments I have achieved during my eight years on Town Council.
First, I raised concerns to the Board of Finance (BOF) when I first came onto Town Council, while voting down the 5-year capital plan and requesting clear understanding on the parameters and size of debt the town could, or was willing to, assume without jeopardizing the AAA bond rating or failing to meet its debt in the future. The status quo of just saying ‘the town can afford it’ wasn’t good enough. The Town Council, being its legislative body, needed parameters that were clear on how much bonding was manageable. New leadership on the BOF brought about ‘the Guardrails’ which has set clear parameters on the amount of debt through bonding that the town should carry.
Second, and just as important, I pushed an ordinance through Town Council to prevent the First Selectman from selling Town owned property without the approval and vote of Town Council. This ordinance not only strengthened democracy in our local government, but stopped the sale of a valuable building that the town is currently using.
Finally, tell us something about yourself that many New Canaanites likely don’t know.
A project a few know about is that I am presently working on my second book, about 18 midcentury houses in New Canaan, which is schedule to be released in the Spring of 2024, by Phaidon.
Family is our most valuable asset, and mine is no exception. I am extremely grateful for their patience and support behind the scenes, as meetings take many hours, over many days and issues are discussed over dinner and even on vacations. My husband, Marty, by profession is an Orthopaedic Surgeon. Together, we have raised three wonderful girls who attended New Canaan Public Schools, and who are now starting their own families and professional careers. Our youngest Carlie will soon sit for her CPA, Lauren is an IP Attorney, Catherine is in Logistics & Operations Management. We all want New Canaan to remain the town we all cherish with all its perfect imperfections, but it is up to every one of us to do our part and support each other. We can only succeed if we have the courage to make a difference and stand up for what we believe is in the best interest for all in our town. I am running because I believe that a few good people can make a tremendous impact for the good of New Canaan. Every election brings about the opportunity to make the necessary changes to steer us in the right direction.
I am asking for your support in my candidacy for Town Council as I will commit to continue to provide transparency, stand to represent you, and keep to a fiscally conservative path of checks and balances to ensure prudent spending and accountability.