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Paul Sutherland

Running for City Council 1st Ward

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Party: Democrat, WFP

CEP Status:


Age: 70

Marital Status: Married

Current Residence: Danbury

Current Job: Retired, Volunteer literacy teacher at LVA School

Previous Job: Financial Consultant, Saber Partners, LLC

Previous Job: Assistant Treasurer, FPL Group

Education: MBA - University of Chicago and BSEE - Cornell University

Should your school district get the same amount of education funding from the state if your district's enrollment is dropping?
Danbury's enrollment is increasing at a significant rate, unlike most towns and cities in CT. All else being equal, towns where enrollment is dropping should see some decrease in state funding levels.
What's one thing most people don't know about you?
I am relatively new to Danbury, but before moving here with my Brazilian wife, Irene, I spent 4 years on the Board of Education and 5 years on the Board of Finance in Ridgefield.
Why are you running for this office?
I am running because I have 9 years of municipal government experience in CT and I believe I can help make Danbury a better place to live for all its residents.
With the state's ongoing budget crisis looming over the election, what are your plans for your community's budget? Is there anything you can do make your town less dependent on revenue from the state?
Cities like Danbury have been underfunded, particularly in Education Cost Sharing funding while richer towns have been getting a disproportionate share of state funds. This anomaly is recognized both by the courts and by Governor Malloy. At the municipal level, we need to institute a quality improvement effort, with benchmarking to identify best practices in other CT towns and cities. But, we also need to demand our fair share of state funds from the legislature.
The legislature has been debating various ideas to allow towns to raise revenue locally through something other than property taxes. If you could ease your residents' property tax burden by adding another method of taxation, is there anything you might consider for your town?
I would NOT consider Off Track Betting (OTB), as I believe that would likely have a negative impact on the city. Other, more productive alternatives include raising funds through development impact fees and franchise fees on utility or internet providers.
Are you in favor of regionalizing more services in conjunction with other nearby communities? If so, which ones?
I am in favor of regionalization if it can be done with no deterioration in service levels. I would like to see an analysis of any particular proposal before saying for sure if it would be a good idea. Emergency 911 service is one possibility.
What is the most pressing local issue facing your community and how would you solve it (within the capacity of the office for which you are running)?
I believe that Danbury public schools do not have the resources they need to properly serve all their students. Danbury spends the least per pupil of all 166 school districts in Connecticut, and that lack of resources is reflected in the results. While many students are well served, the 4-year graduation rate is just 77%, meaning almost 1 in 4 students do not graduate in 4 years. The teacher student ratio is significantly below state average and at least some of the schools are over-crowded. To address these problems, first I would press for more state funding consistent with the state Superior Court ruling by Judge Thomas Moukawsher in CT Coalition for Justice in Education Funding v. Jodi Rell. I would also look for savings elsewhere in the City budget to reallocate to our schools. As a town official in Ridgefield, I helped find savings in energy conservation and by switching to health savings accounts for town employees.