Democrats Lay Out Agenda for Board of Selectmen – Darien Patch

John Lundeen, David Bayne, and Vickie Riccardo discussed their platform this week at a press conference.

Six weeks after receiving their party's nomination for the Board of Selectmen, Democrats John Lundeen, David Bayne, and Vickie Riccardo laid out their vision for Darien's future during a press conference on Tuesday.

Meeting with members of the local media at his Swifts Lane home, Lundeen — who is seeking the office of First Selectmen — spoke at length about key issues facing the town, including affordable housing, flood control, fiscal responsibility, and government transparency.

Lundeen, flanked by Bayne and Riccardo, said the Democratic slate was "a solid team of individuals who have the experience and the skills needed to bring responsive and responsible government back to Darien," accusing the current Republican majority of "bring[ing] the town to a screeching halt."

"Of all the promises made, and of all the discussion and debates had, the single promise that the majority has kept is to slow down the progress in town," Lundeen said.

The three Republican members — First Selectman Dave Campbell, selectman Jayme Stevenson, and selectman Jerry Nielsen — are seeking a second term on the board, but with Stevenson now running for the top spot. Campbell declined to seek a second term as first selectman earlier this year.

Lundeen took particular aim at the Republicans' planned facilities shuffle, which would move the Board of Education's offices to 35 Leroy Ave. and the Darien Senior Center into the BOE's current facility abutting Town Hall.

Charging that the overall project would cost $12 million, Lundeen said that the majority had failed to consider all possible uses for 35 Leroy and that Campbell "has embraced and given new local meaning to a morass of spending that he once accused Democrats of bringing about."

Instead, Lundeen proposed that the town sell the property "to a developer who will build a mix of market rate and below market rate housing" and to pursue an alternate arrangement for the senior center, such as building a modular facility on the current site or "partner[ing] with our local non-profits … to establish a rich and inviting program for seniors in Darien."

Lundeen charged that there was "no plan to achieve the next [affordable housing] moratorium," despite a pending redevelopment of Allen O'Neill Homes "accomplished through years of hard work" by the Darien Housing Authority.

"In a little over three years, our community will be once again vulnerable, because today there is no plan of action and no shovels in the ground," Lundeen said. "There has been some talk by my opponent of a plan to build senior housing bungalows at Edgerton Street, but there has been no public report … nothing that demonstrates any real plans for or real progress on this front."

Lundeen, who is vice chairman of the Darien Chamber of Commerce, emphasized "sensible development" practices and closer collboration with local business owners, who he said "point to a lack of communication and a lack of interest in their businesses by the current administration."

Among his proposals were launching an "aggressive sidewalk improvement and expansion plan" and "partner[ing] with local businesses" to build "a stronger economic base that includes local jobs."

The current president of Friends of Gorham's Pond, Lundeen pledged to "maintain our abundantly inspiring natural setting." He voiced his support for Choose to Reuse's proposed ban on plastic checkout bags and criticized the current administration for its "lack of progress" on flood control.

Lundeen also said he would "end the current practices of slamming down the gavel on elected representative speakers, mocking opposition points of view, and deliberately scheduling meetings when commuting and working members of the board cannot attend."

"This will be replaced by encouraging open debate of all points of view, disclosing information to both the public and elected officials in a timely manner and providing more opportunities for the public to have access to the first selectman and Board of Selectmen," Lundeen said.

The Democrats' full platform is available here.