David Watkins (R)

Stamford Board of Representatives, District 1

Chairman, ResoucePro
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I believe my constituents’ top concern is the increasing tax burden, and I share their concerns. It is clear that the combined burden of property taxes, income taxes and Estate tax is driving people to leave our City and our State. As a City Legislator, I have no say in the State’s fiscal management, and a large part of the City’s expenditures are obligations that are controlled by contracts that are outside my ability to influence. Having said that, where possible I have been able to contribute to improvements in efficiency. The City has recently embarked upon a major upgrade in its information management system and has signed a contract with Oracle to install an Enterprise Resource Planning (“ERP”) system that eventually will facilitate major efficiencies and greatly improved services to our residents. I was asked by the Administration to serve on the ERP Governance Committee and in that position participated in the definition and selection of the new ERP system, as well as interviewing candidates for the new Chief Information Officer position. I believe this new ERP system will enable us to manage our processes and our personnel far more efficiently in the coming years and will also provide many opportunities to interface more effectively with our residents. I expect to continue to play an important role in that transformation.
I look forward to working with the new Administration and the other Boards to resolve the issues surrounding our school infrastructure. Developing the overarching strategy will be a top priority for the new Administration and the newly constituted Board of Education, and I know that the Board of Representatives is keenly interested in learning of their proposals. There is no doubt that school infrastructure will be a large driver of capital expenditures in the coming years. But it is also worth remembering that many of the problems we now face had their gestation in inadequate maintenance and upkeep over many years, and one of my priorities is to make sure that we don’t repeat those errors. I am concerned that our focus on the immediate and pressing issues of our schools may cause us to avoid facing looming similar issues in our non-school infrastructure. I believe Stamford should have an overall capital expenditure road map covering likely repairs, renovations and replacements over the next, say, 20 years, much the same way many Home Owner Associations are required to do by State law. If we had this holistic view our various Boards would be able to better manage our current and future budgeting.
As a District Representative I am naturally in contact with many of my neighbors, so communication issues are less complicated than were I to be involved in a City-wide elected position. Since my initial appointment to the Board of Representatives in 2014 I have worked to build a constituent email list which currently enables me to reach out to more than 800 households in District 1. I have learned however that blast emails can very quickly become intrusive and be seen by the recipients as akin to spam, so I avoid using emails as a vehicle for general updates. In my experience the best way to improve communications is to be responsive. If a constituent has a concern and they contact me, whether by phone, text, email or in person, I try to respond, and quickly. I have a very effective relationship with my co-Representative, Bradley Michelson Bewkes, and we try to divide the load of enquiries so that we can avoid duplication of effort and time. We attend community Association meetings as well as community social events because our participation at these gatherings enables our constituents to feel that City government has a personal and approachable face.