WALLINGFORD — Gov. Ned Lamont visited Wallingford on Thursday, meeting with town officials and touring the uptown area.
It was the first time Mayor William W. Dickinson Jr. met the governor personally, he said, adding that he found Lamont to be “a very caring and energetic individual.”
“I think he’s got a lot of good plans for the state,” Dickinson said, “and he certainly deserves a lot of attention. Hopefully people will accept, not everything, but a good part of what he has to offer. I think we need to take a direction and he’s providing one.”
Lamont has been meeting with mayors and first selectmen around the state as he rolls out his sales tax plan and other initiatives.
“Campaigning, you end up going to a lot of cities,” Lamont said, “and so I made a real point of going to a lot of the small and mid-sized towns, and meeting some of the Republican mayors as well.”
Lamont’s visit started with a closed-door meeting and luncheon in the mayor’s office with Dickinson and Town Comptroller Jim Bowes. Also in attendance were members of Lamont’s staff, including Marc Bradley, director of constituent services.
“We talked about energy,” Lamont said, adding that Wallingford has a “real competitive advantage” by producing its own electricity and that the state “can learn from it.”
“Connecticut (energy) prices are high compared to our peers, and Wallingford’s prices are low compared to the rest of the state,” he said.
Business was another topic they discussed, Lamont said, including the “blow” from Bristol-Myers Squibb’s departure. The pharmaceutical giant was the town’s largest taxpayer before deciding to close its research facility, ceasing operations last year.
“Your local manufacturing is such a big piece of your future,” Lamont said, “and the energy advantage is one of the reasons folks stay here, but we’ve got to be very conscious of making sure they have a real competitive reason to stay in Wallingford.”
After the meeting, Dickinson escorted Lamont and his staff on a short walking tour of North Main Street and Simpson Court, where they greeted business owners and talked with Fire Chief Richard Heidgerd at the firehouse and Police Chief William Wright at the police station.
Town Councilors Vincent Cervoni and Craig Fishbein, who is also a state representative, joined the walk in progress.
Fishbein approached Lamont about setting up a meeting with the House Conservative Caucus to discuss the proposed budget.
Lamont said that when he gave his budget speech last week, he also invited people to discuss the budget instead of “complaining from the sidelines.”
Fishbein, he said, was the “first person to take me up on that.”