George Eames announced his candidacy Sunday, Aug. 18 for first selectman of Durham. The announcement was made at his residence on Haddam Quarter Road, in front of over 100 friends, family and supporters.
Eames has been a registered Republican for 44 years but will be running a self-funded campaign unaffiliated with any political party.
“I am a fiscal conservative who feels that we need to cut spending in order to lower the mill rate in Durham. I know that if I ran in a Republican primary against the unopposed Republican candidate, I would be sending the wrong message on two fronts. First, all the taxpayers of Durham would have to pick up the expense of a primary open to Republicans only. And second, more than half the town would lose out on choosing their next First Selectman” Eames said. “I’d rather spend my own money to challenge 12 years of tax-and-spend leadership so that the taxpayers of Durham don’t have to and have a more democratic election in the process”.
Eames feels that he isn’t alone in his concern over the high mill rate in Durham. Sighting a 2016 survey by Durham’s Planning and Zoning commission in preparation of the Plan of Conservation and Development (POCD) which listed the rising property taxes as the number one concern of 65 percent of Durham residents who responded to the survey. The actual POCD document then listed Durham as having the highest mill rate of all 17 towns in the Lower Connecticut River Valley region.
“While our grand list has been on the decline, town spending has steadily increased. Those two negative factors have resulted in a spike in the town’s portion of our mill rate of more than 61 percent in the past 10 years. Under the current administration it now costs $2 million a year more to run this town annually than it did just 8 years ago. And this increase in spending is just to maintain the present status quo, without any new community assets to show for these increases year after year” according to Eames.
Budgets from Durham’s town website shows the gross town expenses were $5,310,983 in 2010-2011 and are $7,335,884 this year.
“We need to get Durham back on track and the formula is quite simple: Cut town spending in order to reduce the town’s mill rate. If Durham is a more affordable town to live in, the demand for housing will rise along with our home values. If Durham is a more affordable town to do business in, existing businesses will grow, as opposed to close, and new businesses will want to move in. Cross-sell affordability with the benefits a new gas pipeline will bring as well as the proximity to Interstate 91 and demand on our industrial parks will also increase,” said Eames.
Eames is a lifelong resident of Durham and is the owner and President of Lee Manufacturing in Wallingford, and a former Chairman of the Durham Board of Finance.
-- Press Release