Op-Ed: Why I am Running for New Canaan Town Council


I have been committed to New Canaan for decades and plan to keep that commitment for years to come. I love it here. I love our town’s beauty and charm. I have loved raising my daughters and, more recently, grandkids here. This is where I go to church and volunteer. It is where I lived as a commuter and as an employer. I want what is best for New Canaan for everyone who lives here including my family from ages two to 67. That is why I am running for Town Council.

Rich Townsend. Contributed

All of my efforts on Town Council will focus on protecting property values. That is the big concern that unites everyone in New Canaan. It is also the measurable yardstick by which we can judge whether we are succeeding or failing as a town. Every time a new problem or opportunity arises, I will ask myself, “does the solution help or hurt our property values?” If it helps, I will be open to any idea. If it hurts, I won’t be.

This campaign is not about me—it is about protecting what is best about our town. I have three specific priorities that, if we succeed, will protect our property values.

  • Strong schools: New Canaan’s school system is among the very best in the nation. When we look at what attracts families to New Canaan, this is at the top of our list. Nothing should compromise that. I chose to go to public school. I sent my kids to New Canaan schools. Today, my grandkids are thriving in New Canaan schools. This is where we are building our legacy to the future. It matters to me and to anyone who wants our town to be at its best.
  • Commuter convenience: I was a New Canaan commuter for many years. We can make it more convenient. We should offer a new opportunity for anyone to get immediate access to train parking. The fact that we don’t have a train track or highway cutting across our town has a big benefit in terms of charm and beauty compared to other towns, but it is also a cost in terms of convenience. We should do what we can to mitigate the inconvenience by better train parking. We also should work on getting better convenience for reverse commuters who work in New Canaan. As an employer in town, I think there is room to improve the experience for employees who take the train here for work.
  • Fiscal discipline: From my time as a student at Stanford Business School to my time as CFO of a large multi-national corporation, I have learned to listen, learn, and lead. In particular, I have learned how organizations succeed or fail based on their level financial discipline. Because I want what is best for New Canaan, I want its government to be careful with taxpayer dollars. If a given spending proposal is not something that will directly impact our property values, then it is probably an area we should consider spending less – or not spending at all. Things often change more than people expect and financial discipline is what allows us to be prepared for surprises in the future. Nationally, there is a tough retail environment. At the state level, there is a pension crisis threatening to cause chaos in Hartford. But in New Canaan, we can be ready.

That is what is important to me: protecting property values through strong schools, commuter convenience, and fiscal discipline.

What is important to you? I will be meeting with as many of my New Canaan neighbors as possible in the weeks ahead and will be asking you for advice. Leadership, especially at the local level, is about listening and learning what is important to you. So please stop me in town to let me know your concerns. Please attend the candidate debates or say hello at the sidewalk sale. If you can, I would ask you to attend the caucus on July 18th at the high school. Meanwhile, e-mail me at richtownsend06840@gmail.com to let me know what you want to see from your Town Council. This campaign is going to mostly be about meeting with you one-on-one to understand all I can about your needs and to answer your questions. We may agree or disagree on specific local issues, but we all want what is best for New Canaan. To that end, I ask for your help.

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