I had the opportunity to work with Republican first selectman candidate David Becker this past spring in an effort to secure funding for the new education-oriented and ADA-compliant motor skills playground to be built at the Early Childhood Center. The ECC is Fairfields only public education preschool that services children with special needs, including: physical disabilities, Downs syndrome, autism and speech and cognitive delays, to name just a few. Connecticut state law requires local school districts to provide qualifying children with special education services at age 3, upon which they no longer qualify for the states Birth-to-Three services.
Among the many private fundraising efforts by the ECC Parents Group this year, its main goal was to secure public funding for a fully accessible playground, which was originally planned, but not completed when the school opened nine years ago. The otherwise outstanding school has operated since then with a playground not accessible to many of the same students its intended to service.
David Becker demonstrated leadership with his early support of the Parents Groups efforts and in working to help educate other RTM members on the projects importance. The playground won unanimous RTM support for the 2011-12 budget. David understood that certain issues, such as the ECC playground, transcend politics and are simply the right thing to do. In these tough economic times it takes a good deal of foresight to recognize and support a project like this when you have no familial connection to the school or are not professionally involved with the students. David knew this project was necessary without needing to be told.
I unfortunately cannot ascribe the same perspicacity to Robert Bellitto Jr., vice chairman of the Board of Finance and candidate for the office of first selectman. When given the opportunity to vote on the playground, Bellitto chose not to support it. He chose to remain silent and provided no indication of his resistance to the project during public Board of Finance meetings until he recorded his vote against it. Had he given any indication regarding his position, we would have welcomed the opportunity to win his support. Once we learned of his position; however, it was too late to sit down with him.
Bellittos vote showed a lack of judgment and understanding that he was ultimately voting to prevent many future ECC students from learning. Thankfully, that same lack of understanding was not exhibited from the majority of the board as it passed, 5-4. Bellittos questionable judgment on this important project for the towns children with special needs provides cause for concern in my opinion with his judgment in other areas. I dont think this is a quality to look for in our towns first selectman.
I encourage all registered Republicans to turn out and vote for David Becker at the Republican Caucus on July 19.
Father of 2011 ECC Graduate
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