Woodbridge’s Heller sees challenges as opportunities
WOODBRIDGE >> Democratic first selectman candidate Beth Heller sees the challenges ahead, including state funding cuts, as “opportunities” to build consensus and get things done.
Town voters cast their local ballots May 1. Heller, who is deputy first selectman, is running against Republican Tony Anastasio, also a Board of Selectmen member and seasoned contributor to the town.
Incumbent First Selectman Ellen Scalettar has chosen not to run, to spend more time with family.
“I love this town,” Heller said. “I raised my children here. It’s time to give back.”
Heller recently received a Facebook endorsement from U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-3, who urged residents to vote for Heller and “send a message to Donald Trump and the Republicans. Democrats are organizing.”
Heller, along with her husband of 40 years, Dr. Allen Heller, M.D., raised their three sons in town.
Decades ago through parent involvement such as PTO, she got her start in serving residents through numerous boards and commissions.
Heller is also an active member of the Amity Animal Rescue Fund and is chairwoman of the Woodbridge Animal Shelter building renovation committee. She is co-founder of the popular Summer Concerts on the Green.
She is a registered nurse, but does not have an active career.
Heller joined the Board of Selectmen in 2008, became deputy first selectman in 2009 and was in the top spot briefly after the death in 2013 of First Selectman Ed Sheehy.
She said she didn’t run in that special election because her mother needed assistance.
One of the most controversial issues the last two years has been what to do with the Country Club of Woodbridge, purchased by the town several years ago after its owner had financial problems.
Heller said she favors using the property for recreation, but the question should be put to residents in a referendum. No matter the outcome, she said there should be “strict limitations on development.”
Heller wants the club’s pool to remain open for residents.
“I think we can do a better a job in disseminating facts on the implications of investments that preserve and enhance quality of life in our town, and we can bring the debate rapidly to closure,” Heller said.
“I am absolutely confident that a well-informed electorate will choose the option that is best for Woodbridge.”
Like her opponent, Heller said she’s dedicated to “preserving excellence” in the Amity District and the town’s Beecher Road School, and vows to provide “the necessary resources” to do that.
A top school system attracts young families, which results in higher property values, she said.
In light of probable state funding cuts to Woodbridge, she said she will look at new approaches to managing resources, such as: vendor consolidation; eliminating redundancies; sharing services with neighboring towns and school districts to maximize economy of scale; expansion of green energy; enhancement of efficiency to reduce utility costs; and renewed focus on increasing the commercial tax base.
To increase the commercial tax base, Heller said she’ll look to address the needs of the business community and to promote success.
Like her opponent, Heller would like to avoid political “polarization,” because she believes town government should address the concerns and aspirations of all constituents.
“Ideas should be judged on their merit, independent of their (political) source,” Heller said.
“I don’t like partisanship,” she said. “Town government is best when we work collaboratively.”
Voting is 6 a.m.-8 p.m. May 1 at the Center Building gym, 4 Meetinghouse Lane. The Democratic slate in Woodbridge is: Beth Heller, first selectman; Board of Selectmen Mica Cardozo, former state Sen. Joseph J. Crisco Jr., Teri Schatz; Amity Regional Board of Education Patricia Cardozo, Robyn Berke; Woodbridge Board of Education Nancy Yao Maasbach, Maegan Genovese, John Vultee; Zoning Board of Appeals Henry Nusbaum, Aldon Hynes, Jeffrey Atwood; Zoning Board of Appeals alternate, Yonatan Zamir; Ann Rubin, Board of Assessment Appeals.