Saturday, June 15, 2024

Kathleen Callahan


Democratic Candidate for Town Council in District 10

My name is Kathleen Callahan and I am running for Town Council in District 10. My wife, Karen Tracy, and I are lifelong Connecticut residents and have lived in Stratford for 11 years. We plan to retire and spend the rest of our lives here and realized it was time to help enhance the positive and bring a new perspective to the future planning and vision of our town.

I am a woman in long term recovery from addiction; a daughter, sister, wife, friend, and colleague; a community social worker; a former software engineer; and a lifelong learner, consensus builder, problem solver, and leader. I think in relationships, systems, stories, and data. My recovery is my touchstone, the measure of who I am and the determination of how I show up on a daily basis. Through my darkest days, into the challenges of today, and the concerns and hopes for the future, I am firmly grounded in the frailty and magnificence of our human experience, individually and collectively.

Our town’s budget is annual, town council terms are 2 years, mayoral 4 years. Short-term goals are easier given these restraints, and lack of consistent stakeholders can often preclude long-term planning. My experience in both careers has shaped a responsiveness that mitigates these impediments, allowing me to work toward a goal on the horizon and position projects to achieve that goal. I have learned how to shift seamlessly between team member and leader, effectively and efficiently research and resource issues, and actively listen with an open mind while growing into a skilled communicator and motivator.

As a social worker, I have been responsible for the development and implementation of community programming. This includes fostering relationships and educating about the impact of childhood and community adversity while engaging state agencies, legislative champions, and statewide committees and workgroups to promote trauma-responsive, evidence-based best-practices that improve services, empower individuals, and enhance community resilience.

My software career was comprehensive, successful, and satisfying, spanning over two decades. My experience was multi-disciplined with systems ranging from real-time, multi-tasking, embedded airborne avionics and surface-based radar applications to early, innovative e-commerce web sites.

I will bring the whole of my life’s experiences, personal and professional, to the Town Council as the representative of the 10th District. I believe Stratford is at a tipping point. While surrounding communities seem to be thriving, even in the midst of multiple public health crises, it appears our town and many of our residents are facing diminishing mobility and opportunities for growth that predate the current challenges. My life experiences have sharpened my ability to connect, motivate, and provide options. A sense of urgency dictates a new path for our town, one with visionary leadership and creative solutions. I want to leverage my skills to improve the lives of those in my district and help transform the town of Stratford.

The core of my candidacy is optimism and potential. I want to advance opportunities provided by our assets – geography, people, and resources, recognizing that Stratford is uniquely positioned for this moment. I understand the impact of COVID on communities that have long been marginalized, how it has magnified disparities and inequities, and also the need to address the collective grief of the town.

My goals for our town align with our Democratic Party priorities: to empower residents to prioritize President Biden’s investments in America and Stratford; lower residential taxes with honest budgeting and smart economic development; create a resilient Stratford with innovative green energy infrastructure; ensure that government, boards, and commissions represent Stratford’s evolving diversity; and redistrict based on census data to end gerrymandering and ensure fairness and equity.

My work for residents of District 10 will be informed by my personal experiences living in this area and focus on things I’ve been learning from my neighbors as I walk the doors. Key concerns I continue to hear at the doors are taxes and public safety.

Lowering residential taxes requires expanding our tax base to lower our residential mill rate, making Stratford more attractive to people wanting to live here and businesses wanted to locate here. While not the economic engine of the town, our district benefits from a diverse business culture that employs residents and draws customers – and even new residents – to town, creating a sustainable cycle of growth and increased advancement. What brings new residents is also the school system. A Democratic Board of Education will benefit our schools, including Second Hill Lane, with increased resourcing for students and teachers and a more visible role for parents and teachers in decisions.

As your town councilwoman I would gather the residents’ input while monitoring and supporting our interests on some of the interesting potential development in our district, including the fate of the residential buildings alongside the Ella T. Grasso therapeutic swimming pool and the continued buzz about a new diner next to the shopping complex on Hawley Lane, directly across from the Trumbull Marriott. Who doesn’t love diners? I know I sure do as may some hotel guests. Of importance would be impact on traffic in the area which has, by my experience, improved since the end of 2020 holiday congestion.

Our town’s Complete Streets Plan provides many public safety suggestions for dealing with high speed vehicles and I would work to ensure their recommended expansion of traffic calming measures, proven to slow traffic, to our district. Over the past few months, I’ve heard multiple crashes on our nearby traffic light signal on Broadbridge Avenue at the entrance to Remington Woods. I will also advocate for incorporating green infrastructure and supporting the plan’s program for storm water management.

Regarding Remington Woods, I support this area as an urban forest to protect what I believe is the largest undeveloped open space in Fairfield County. When I first moved to Stratford, I worked for a consulting firm that contracted for Sikorsky and was located in the office park there. I look forward to sharing some of my ideas about how to renovate that structure after remediation is complete.

I am meeting many of my neighbors, listening to their reasons why they love our town and what their concerns and needs are. I am excited to be considered for Town Council by the residents of my district.


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