Console Runs for Re-Election as Petition Candidate
WETHERSFIELD - After failing to garner the Republican Town Committee nomination for the upcoming Town Council elections, incumbent Deputy Mayor John Console is making a run for another term anyway, entering the race as a petition candidate.
That means he will not be running as a Republican or Democrat--an approach he seems to have embraced.
“I’m more interested in what’s good for the town as a whole, not just if you’re a Republican, Democrat, or Independent,” Console said.
If the Council is split between the two parties, Console envisions himself as the swing vote if he regains his seat.
In a town where councilors routinely field concerns regarding spending, Console stressed the need for more transparency in such matters, particularly the budget.
“There should be more transparency in how the budget is put together and I’ve been saying that for a while,” he said.
Console’s dissenting vote regarding a $53.09 million Board of Education budget--part of an $89.47 million total town figure--raised eyebrows at a Council meeting at which the proposed expenditure was adjusted four times before passing.
“I didn’t vote ‘no’ because the budget was too high; I voted ‘no’ because I couldn’t get an answer on how it was spent,” Console said, referring to the school funding portion.
Console was not the only one to voice that concern. Councilors Paul Montinieri and Gerri Roberts said the Board of Education should have had more time to meet with the Council about proposed cuts from the figure and that much of the decision making was dominated by the Finance Committee during a discussion before the budget was passed.
Councilor Stathis Manousos countered that the committee held regular meetings that others were invited to attend.
The issue of transparency extends beyond just the budget, Console said. He pointed to the ongoing Wethersfield High School renovation project, in which unexpected cost escalations for PCB removal prompted the removal of geothermal wells, amongst other components of the project, from the site plan.
The original project proposal--when it went out for referendum--included the geothermal heating and cooling system and the addition of 150 seats at the school’s football field.
“The taxpayers voted for a certain building and, with the planning the [Building] Committee did, they cut out those components because they’re running into cost planning issues,” Console said. “I don’t think that’s right. Corners are being cut and we’re not going to get what we voted for.”
The elimination of the additional bleachers is only tentative, countered Councilor and WHS Building Committee Member David Drake. It was optioned out in case the next bids, which are expected to come in by Sept. 15, do not come in favorably, he said.
“Other than the geothermal, nothing else has been officially cut,” Drake said.
Console also anticipates that the Committee will run into more problems down the road--speculation he has made during Council meetings--and that they might need to go out to referendum in order to ask voters for additional funding.
“From what I’ve gathered, the project needs another $5 million in order for it to come out the way voters wanted it,” Console said. “I know they build some contingency into the project, but I just don’t think they put enough.”
While Drake said that such a claim is “way too premature,” he also said that he would be open to going to referendum for an additional $2 million if the committee members feel there is a need once they have seen the next bids.