Shelton Board of Aldermen Ward 3 candidate: Matt McGee

Third Ward Alderman candidate Matt McGee

Third Ward Alderman candidate Matt McGee

Contributed photo

Party: Democrat/Envision Shelton

Are you an incumbent? (if yes, how many years in office): No

Current job: Full-time student, SCSU.

Volunteering background, if any: Shelton Students for Change, Shelton Clean-up Project

Education: Currently earning my degree at SCSU. SHS 20'

What prompted you to run for office? Two years ago, I ran for public office in Shelton to represent the long-held views of students, parents, and teachers, that our schools do not get proper support from our Board of Aldermen. While I am no longer a student in the Shelton Public Schools, I am still involved in our Shelton community in numerous different leadership capacities, including but not limited to the bipartisan group Envision Shelton and the Shelton Clean-up Project.

What are the major issues/changes you are focused on if elected? We must do everything we can to provide our students and teachers with the resources they need to keep our schools competitive, our property values high, and prepare our students for post-graduate success. That said, my advocacy does not end with education. We deserve committed public servants, not partisan career politicians, serving as our Aldermen. Those public servants should be energetic, honest, and attentive to the needs of the people who elect them. Problems that residents encounter every day: the pothole and congestion on their streets, the overgrown brush on their street corner, or the litter outside their homes, can all be addressed if we have Aldermen committed to doing their job, and doing it well. I love Shelton, and I am committed to giving back and making it even better for everyone.

When I came up short two years ago, in a bid for the very seat I am running for today, I wasn’t certain that I would run again. However, two years later there are still too many areas in our city that deserve more attention from our Board of Aldermen. We need better fiscal oversight, including honest discussion and debate about how our tax dollars are spent.

The current BOA allowed a $12 million general fund surplus to vanish over a period of seven years. This fact alone is a red flag for the affordability and sustainability of our low taxes. Furthermore, the maintenance of our city services must be better kept up to date. We all see it- the potholes, the excessive brush on the side of the roads, the congestion on our streets, etc. The BOA Street and Health & Public Safety committees must meet on a regular basis to bring stakeholders to the table and discuss solutions to these issues in a public setting. We must also stop allowing developers to take advantage of our land and resources. Developers must include the community from the early stages of their planning, follow the rules and regulations set by our city, and be asked to do more to help us maintain our infrastructure and quality of life. Finally, we must ensure the transparency and accountability of those who hold public office. Shelton needs a functioning Board of ethics, one with teeth and an up-to-date ethics policy that can hold our politicians accountable. As a public servant, I will always advocate for transparent and ethical government.

Better management. Fiscally, we must establish a true rainy-day fund to protect general fund surpluses, our credit rating, and our financial sustainability. We need to protect and strengthen our bipartisan budget board (which my opponents attempted to eliminate completely), and periodically hire new auditors to keep fresh eyes on our budget. We need to also be taking advantage of all state and federal grant money that’s available to our city. Additionally, we must work with members of our Board of Education to identify strategic investments and to better understand the financial challenges of the BOE. One of my opponents actually voted to sue the BOE because they didn't understand the Excess Cost Grant for special education — a complete waste of taxpayer dollars. Finally, we must establish a long-term financial plan to prepare for renovations and replacements of city property and infrastructure ahead of time. A current example of the chronic lack of planning is visible in the major overgrowth of brush on the sides of our roads this year. Unfortunately, the machine we use to maintain the brush and keep our drivers safe, is broken down. Public Works had warned that the machine was old and on its way out… so why weren’t we prepared? Better fiscal controls, communication, and long-term planning are what fresh perspectives like mine can bring to the Board of Aldermen.

Thoughts on BOE spending, city-run bus company? Do you agree with the spending levels set forth in the past for the BOE, and is running a bus company (and the costs associated) worth it to the city? To answer the question directly, no I have not agreed with past education budgets set by our BOA, and I will do everything in my power as an Alderman to work with our Board of Education to make proper investments in our schools while keeping taxes low and stable. Our education community, from our volunteer PTOs, to our teachers, to our BOE members, do the best they can with very limited resources. This past year we had the opportunity to fulfill the Board of Education’s requested budget amount while maintaining the 2020-2021 tax rate. However, due to a lack of family and student advocates and a gap in understanding the needs of our schools, our BOA refused to exercise that option. Furthermore (and to directly answer your second specific question), why, during the Covid-19 pandemic, did we make the BOE pay the full 3.15 million for school transportation that didn't take place? If the city could run the bus company competently, while saving taxpayer dollars in the process, then I have no problem with the city running our school bus service. Unfortunately, however, the BOA has hired someone with no bus company experience to run the Shelton Student Transportation Service (SSTS). What’s more, the city-run bus service is drowned in politics, which brings the transparency of the service into question. Last year, when a bus aide was removed from a school bus and arrested for possession of an illegal substance, why weren’t the parents of those school children immediately notified? Furthermore, why does the SSTS refuse to break down their expenses in a line-by-line format like every other major department in our city government? There have been, and continue to be, major issues with SSTS, which is a prime example for why our city needs smarter management and better transparency, which starts by electing some new faces and perspectives to our BOA this Nov. 2.