Though notably absent from the Middletown Mayoral Debate at Wesleyan, Christine Berry Bourne, city treasurer of Middletown, remains in the race as an independent candidate for mayor of Middletown. Bourne has much connection to Wes—including the fact that she is married to an alum (Bourne ’80) and lives well within walking distance of campus. Much attention in these final weeks has been centered on party candidates Sebastian N. Giuliano (R) and Dan Drew (D), but here’s a statement from Bourne, as submitted:
My name is Christine Berry Bourne and I am running for the office of Mayor of Middletown as an independent candidate in the upcoming municipal election. I am encouraged by the interest that the Wesleyan student body has shown in this year’s election by your registering to vote, your attendance at candidate debates, your assistance to local town committees and your participation in voter registration drives on the Wesleyan campus. I commend you for those activities and other examples of your involvement in the Middletown community and I ask you all for your consideration and vote on Election Day (November 8).
I have lived in Middletown most of my life and thus have developed strong ties to this great community. I have been married to Robert Bourne (Wesleyan Class of 1980) for over twenty-one years and we have three children – two of whom are currently in college and one in the 8th grade. I have worked tirelessly as a community leader and have served, among others, as the president of a labor union local (AFSCME Council 4 Local 466); as a vice-president of AFSCME Council 4; as a vice-president of a non-profit organization that serves the developmentally disadvantage; as a religious education teacher; as a youth basketball and cheerleading coordinator; as a president and secretary of various schools’ PTO; as a co-chairman of the Middletown Mayor’s annual charity ball; and as a member of the city’s Charter Revision Commission. I hold deeply the notion that for one wanting to lead one must first serve.
Having been born into a family with a strong tradition of public service and involvement in local Democratic Party politics, it has been a natural progression for me to seek and to hold public office. As things have turned out, I have had the distinct honor to serve the City of Middletown as its Treasurer for the past sixteen years. During that time, I have been elected and then re-elected to eight consecutive two-year terms and during those elections as well as during the off-years, I have helped numerous state and local Democratic candidates in their pursuit of elected office. I am also currently a member of the Connecticut Democratic State Central Committee and serve the Democratic voters located within the municipalities of Middletown, Meriden, Middlefield and Cheshire, respectively.
Moreover, I have strong ties to the Wesleyan Community. When my husband and I were first married (a Wesleyan Chaplain presided at our wedding), we purchased a home near the campus so that we could more easily participate in the many events and activities that Wesleyan has to offer. Our youngest child went to the Neighborhood Pre-School on campus and all our children grew up enjoying Wesleyan sports, sledding on Foss Hill and going to Homecoming. When our older children needed assistance in high school, we hired Wesleyan students as tutors (kudos to the Physics Department and the Writing Workshop!). I have never viewed Wesleyan to be separate and distinct from Middletown. Rather, Wesleyan is one of the many key attributes of the Middletown Community that make Middletown a very special place. As mayor, I will advocate even greater cooperation and collaboration between Wesleyan and the city at large.
Despite what the editors of the Argus might think, I do have a platform and it can be summarized as follows. I believe in the bedrock principles of the Democratic Party – among those being, pro-worker, pro-union, pro-senior, pro-veteran and pro-education — with an unbending support for equal rights and opportunities for all. As mayor, I will promote greater economic development in the city because the best social program is a having a steady and fulfilling job that pays, at a minimum, a living wage. To promote such development, I will strive to keep local taxes low in order to encourage private investment in the city. In order to keep taxes low, I will introduce and spearhead policies that encourage great efficiencies in how local government operates without laying off municipal worker and I will encourage greater public/private partnerships (including partnerships with Wesleyan) and other initiatives. Notwithstanding the value of a platform (since it means so much to the Argus editors), deeds speak much louder than words. I believe that I
have shown through my many years of public service and community involvement that I practice what I preach and therefore am qualified to serve as your mayor and respectfully request your consideration and vote. I would have been able to make these points clearly at the debate, but unfortunately it was cancelled two days prior and rescheduled to a date more convenient for Mr. Drew, which I was unable to attend.
I am running as a petitioning candidate for mayor and not as the endorsed candidate for either mayor or for my current position as Treasurer because the party bosses of the Middletown Democratic Town Committee did not endorse me. It seems that they got a little upset that one of their own candidates/officeholders (a female officeholder to boot) had the audacity to speak out against mismanagement and misappropriation of funds at the Democratically-controlled Board of Education. It didn’t matter that I was speaking out as an individual citizen exercising my inalienable First Amendment right. I guess the party bosses are all in favor of such exercise but only if it is to criticize mismanagement by Republicans. And since I “followed the money” and found that it landed, among other places, in the padded expense accounts of the school bureaucrats rather in the classrooms for the benefit of its intended recipients – the students and the teachers – I was given the boot. You know, I am proud of that badge of courage.
Now, with this backdrop in mind, one must question why the party bosses are so enamored with one of my opponents in this November’s election – the Democratic Party endorsed candidate – Dan Drew. In fact, they have been so enthralled that they actually appointed him to a seat on the Common Council that was “conveniently” vacated a few months earlier by a veteran Democratic councilman. I would assume that the bosses “elected” him to that seat (rather than having been elected by the people in a general election) to give their young candidate some needed “street cred”. You see, Dan has not been very involved in community activities in Middletown and he may have even less experience in government or other public service activities.
So one must ask the question, why do the party bosses want Dan? Maybe one theory or answer can be found in his campaign finance reports. Those reports are filled with the listed donations of lobbyists, lawyers, party operatives, city and state contractors and vendors and the like. In Middletown terms, the proverbial “One Percenters” (1%’ers). I, on the other hand, have shown through my words and actions that I will represent and advocate for common good and not for the benefit of the power brokers and the special interests. If you want to explore further the differences between me and Dan Drew and me and the present mayor, Seb Giuliano, please check out one of our recent debates found at Middletown-ct.patch.com.
Again, I thank you for your interest and involvement in Middletown. I have provided to you this information about my background, my viewpoints and my observations about the upcoming mayoral race in the hope that this information will help you in making an informed decision should you decide to vote on November 8th.
I ask for your vote.
Christine Berry Bourne