As with its first selectman race, New Canaan is fortunate to have two highly qualified candidates—though with different professional experience—for town treasurer.
While both could be expected to do a very good job in a role that only recently evolved from that of a ceremonial functionary, Brooks has earned re-election—not only through his responsible stewardship of tax dollars to date, but also his conscientious navigation of Town Hall politics.
A state-mandated position, the town treasurer oversees New Canaan’s receipts and expenses as its “cash manager,” as well as signing off on bond issues and acting as treasurer of municipal trust funds.
Brooks, after succeeding a 24-term incumbent four years ago, has been proactive in a role that he continues to define even as he works within it. He has sought out ways to earn more revenue for New Canaan—for example, by negotiating a higher interest rate on money market accounts—and the town has earned some $1.6 million since he took over the role in 2013.
During a highly informative and mutually respectful debate hosted last month by the League of Women Voters, Fryer rightly noted that New Canaan has always earned interest on its investments. Fryer describes himself as uniquely positioned to serve New Canaan as a career accounting and finance professional, saying he would bring his wide experience to ensure that the town avoids “material weaknesses” in its finances.
Yet beyond broad statements about his training and education, Fryer has not fleshed out just how he would do so.
What’s more, Brooks himself is the one who played a critically important role in reporting problems of process within New Canaan’s Finance Department earlier this year, giving testimony before the Town Council that would lead, eventually, to a change at the top of the Finance Department itself. New Canaan since then has seen its finances approved, material weaknesses addressed and has brought on an interim CFO who has garnered high praise from the first selectman, Audit Committee and others.
To his credit, Fryer has commended Brooks for “raising the bar” on the town treasurer role. I agree, and though Fryer is a highly qualified candidate, there is no compelling reason to make a change at this point.