James O. Gaston, Sr.
Many residents have asked why I would like to return to the Board of Finance from the Board of Selectmen. Two reasons, first, I was able to convince my friend Herb Rosenthal to return to the Board of Selectmen which will be well served. Second, I see the next two years as perhaps the most critical years for our Town since my family and I moved to Main Street twenty-five years ago. Critical financial decisions will need to be analyzed, evaluated and balanced by the Board of Finance so we may move Newtown forward. I believe my Finance and Economics education and experience of four years as a Selectman and ten years as the Vice-Chair of the Board of Finance will best serve our community.
As an elected official I have always stressed Facts-First. There is no room for pre-determined outcome agendas before Facts are secured and a complete analysis done. Recently, I was disturbed by the Rush to close a school before all the Facts were in. After analysis the facts demonstrated that closing Hawley would actually raise taxes, not lower them. Moreover, the act would cost Hawley District homeowners approximately 10% of the value of their homes. This Rush divided our town and damaged our good reputation statewide. Too few people making too many decisions lacks transparency and accountability, and results in the rightful distrust of government. The public properly pushed back as it did with the original Community Center proposal.
An important role of the Board of Finance is to control taxes and balance Capital Improvement projects. While Vice-Chair of the Board of Finance I strongly supported the 10% Debt Service cap, opposed bonding operational costs, and supported sufficiently funding education. I suggest that the next Board of Finance has important financial work to do as we look to the future and assess what Newtown needs to grow its Grand List. Town boards, commissions and council should be comfortable requesting financial analysis and evaluation relative to projects and programs deemed important.
Controlling taxes is important! However, it is only one side of the equation. Equally important is growing the grand list which reduces the tax load on homeowners. With taxes at a relative constant and inflation slowly edging upward there are three factors that can occur: 1) cut services, 2) raise taxes; or 3) grow the grand list. I suggest smart growth of the Grand List is the difference between waning and thriving towns.
The Grand List is grown by the economic concept of Demand. Demand is people wanting to move and stay in Newtown (property values increase,) and economic development where businesses want to do business in Newtown. Wows such as great schools, Parks and Recreation facilities, the Cultural Arts, and preservation of town gems and icons, among other things stimulate Demand. I would suggest, for example, the Board of Finance become intricately involved with the financial and economic analysis of such proposed Wows as the self-sustaining, revenue generating ice rink and aquatic center, and Cultural Arts center with a Community Center. Should the anticipated financial be positive, the Wow factor to our town would both enhance our community and grow the Grand List. This is the type of visionary thinking and financial leadership Newtown needs.
Thank you for taking the time to read about my ideas and thinking. It would be an honor and privilege to again serve Newtown on the Board of Finance. Please be sure to read about all the excellent Democratic candidates running for office this election, http://www.newtownctdemocrats.org.
Jim Gaston, Sr.
18 Main Street
H: (203) 426-2500
W: (203) 334-1656
Public Service for Newtown:
Selectman, Board of Selectmen, 2011 to present.
Board of Finance, 2001 – 2011 (Vice-Chair).
Warden, Borough of Newtown, 2007 – present.
Board of Burgesses, Borough of Newtown, 1993 – 2007, (Senior Burgess, 2001-2007).
Member, Board of Directors, Family Counseling Center, 1992 – 2000 (Vice Chair, 1999 – 2000).
Town of Newtown, School HVAC Committee, 2001.
Founder, Western United Extreme, Inc., Girl’s Premier Soccer Club, Non-profit organization, Board Member 2004 – 2013. Newtown Democratic Town Committee, 2005 – present.
Service for the Legal Profession:
Connecticut Bar Association
Member, Executive Committee, 1986 – present.
Member, House of Delegates, 1992 – present.
Member, Client Security Fund Committee, 1993 – present.
Court – Legislature Liaison Committee 1997- present.
Connecticut Trial Lawyers Association
Board of Governors, 2010 – present.
People’s Law School Committee – Founder/Chairperson, 1988- 2004.
Expert Data Bank – Founder – Chairperson ,1990 – 1993.
Legislative Committee, 1998 – 2005.
Continuing Education Committee, 1990 – 1992.
Trial Lawyers for Public Justice – State Coordinator, 1990 – 1994.
Law Offices of James O. Gaston
Bridgeport Office located at:
239 Golden Hill Street
Bridgeport, CT 06604
Newtown Office located at:
33 Church Hill Road
Newtown, CT 06470
Lehigh University, Graduated in 1980 with a double major in Finance and Economics. Minored in Government.
Duquesne University School of Law, Juris Doctorate, 1983.
Married to Stephanie; four children – Tara 25; Jimmy 23; Kelley 19; Owen 17.
Have been a resident of Newtown since 1991.
I was born in Birmingham, AL, in 1959.
Connecticut Bar Foundation – Life Fellow, James W. Cooper Fellowship.
“Super Lawyers” – Selected by Connecticut Magazine for being in the top 5% of all lawyers in field in the State of Connecticut for the years 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013