Dan Drew, the Democratic candidate for Middletown’s upcoming mayoral elections, has been involved in the city’s politics for the last five years. He made a career for himself in political journalism, and he has appeared on the O’Reilly Factor, CNN news, and NPR’s Where We Live. Drew took some time out of his busy schedule to talk with The Argus about life and his campaign.
Argus: What are your top initiatives for Middletown right now?
Dan Drew: One big idea is revitalizing the downtown waterfront with riverfront development—a riverside boardwalk of sorts. A lot of this is going to waste right now. This would expand business, research, and job opportunities. We have a world-class university in Middletown that trains world-class scientists. We should have some classy business. And if we have research jobs available, that’s good for Middletown and great for science students from Wesleyan. The other big initiative—putting together a sensible budget.
A: Do you see any pre-existing difficulties that you will have to overcome when you take office?
DD: Major financial crisis is always going to be right there on the horizon. Giuliano claims experience for re-election, but he has achieved the height of fiscal irresponsibility. He increased taxes for residents all over town, more so than the three democratic mayors before him. Yet, Republicans keep suggesting that fiscally responsible means fiscally conservative. Not to mention, our city’s sewer department is in dire straits financially. If it were privately owned, it would declare bankruptcy. We don’t know where we’re going right now. We need to lay out a specific path so we can work on bringing in economic development.
A: Exactly what kind of development or growth are you looking for in Middletown?
DD: Definitely business growth. I’m not talking about opening the floodgates. I’m talking about targeted, careful business attraction. So, as we grow from an economic perspective, we can maintain heritage. We wouldn’t want to put something too close to campus or nice residential neighborhoods. When I talk about manufacturing business, I mean working to bring in new industries that have been targeted to become the new manufacturing frontier—where people make things of value and make things that other people use. Part of what the President has targeted is shoulder panel manufacturing—green technology and factories. Houses, corporate centers, or office buildings with recycled materials, heat observing materials, solar panels help you save money, create jobs, and are good for the environment.
A: Can you outline your political history for us?
DD: I worked professionally as a journalist with Potomac News in Northern Virginia and with the Connecticut Post covering issues from education to public safety on the local and national levels. I have interviewed political figures from mayors to President George W. Bush. I also led an investigation of a corrupt politician in Virginia, E. Lee Stroffegen III. His re-election campaign had improperly attributed contributions from a businessman who was a subsidiary of Morgan Stanley. The investigation and reports led to a criminal investigation and Stroffegen’s indictment. I also work in the grants industry. Some of the grants I’ve worked on are for housing development with green material, solar material—environmentally sound developments.
A: Green Street Arts Center is something that connects Wesleyan with Middletown. Does Middletown have a plan to reincorporate programs like this?
DD: I spoke out when the mayor proposed the last budget with little funding for the arts in Middletown. The arts programs that hold together this collective arts community are unique and give Middletown a lot of character. It’s what a lot of people, industries, families, and students come for. For Middletown to cut programs would be a detriment to the community as a whole, from a cultural and investment perspective.
A: How would you describe the current state of Wesleyan-Middletown relations?
DD: This is really important—Wes is a key part of the community. Students are residents here for four years. A lot of people who are prominent in the community came to Middletown because of Wesleyan. Students are contributors and keep the economy going. A lot of restaurants and bars are open because of Wesleyan students. What is lacking right now? The mayor doesn’t listen to people. Wesleyan needs a mayor who will listen and discuss issues with the people and come to solutions.
A: Will this change?
DD: Middletown and Wesleyan students and the city government need to communicate regularly. What I promise is an open ear, someone always willing to listen and discuss. The student body and the city are not going to agree on all issues. I would be lying if I said that I could give Wesleyan everything it wants because reasonable people will always disagree about some issues. How we resolve this is what is important.
This is the first in a series of articles covering the Middletown gubernatorial election.