By Vinny Cervoni
This year’s political campaign for mayor has resulted in the description of two different versions of the Town of Wallingford. One depiction talks about how great Wallingford is in many ways, while it needs improvement in a few others. The other depiction claims that Wallingford is in dire straights which will become even more dire if Wallingford voters elect the wrong candidate.
My opponent continues to claim that Wallingford’s economy is suffering because grand list growth is not tracking with the inflation index. Comparing grand list growth to the inflation index is like comparing the cost of milk to the price of a commercial building, literally. Factors considered in the inflation index are consumables and services like eggs, margarine, fuel oil, butter, and airfare. (https://www.cnbc.com/2023/01/13/why-inflation-hit-these-10-items-hardest-in-2022.html)
The grand list is comprised of commercial real estate, residential real estate, automobiles and commercial personal property (furniture, equipment, computers used for business). It is important to note that, after the first year of purchase, personal property and automobiles decrease or depreciate in value with each grand list year. To suggest that the measure of the cost of consumer products and other consumables should track with real property ignores the direct impact of interest rates upon the value of a home. As inflation increases mortgage interest rates, the value of a home will go down. (https://www.investopedia.com/mortgage/mortgage-rates/housing-market/#:~:text=They%20determine%20how%20much%20consumers,rates%20generally%20do%20the%20opposite.) Therefore, inflation can act to reduce the relative value of a grand list. Per data gathered by AdvanceCT, as of 2021, the commercial industrial portion of the Wallingford grand list was twenty-one (21%) percent, leaving the rest to residential real estate and automobiles owned for personal use. The same site reports that the value of our grand list per capita, as compared to the state average, puts Wallingford in the ninety-first (91%) percentile. When considering all of these factors, it is remarkable to note the $367million in growth of Wallingford’s grand list over the past ten years, during which time, inflation could have challenged its value.
My opponent also claims that young families are leaving Wallingford to go to other communities, like Cheshire (Quinnipiac Chamber Forum, October 8, 2023). The AdvanceCT website is a wealth of information, much of it intended to market the state of Connecticut to businesses. Go to this link to compare Wallingford to other communities on Connecticut: https://www.advancect.org/site-selection/compare-communities. Comparing Wallingford to Cheshire, if young families are leaving Wallingford to go to Cheshire, the numbers don’t reflect that. The population numbers by age from one to forty-nine remain much higher in Wallingford than in Cheshire.
Wallingford’s housing market has faced a significant challenge since COVID. The challenge is a lack of inventory, increasing the value of homes in Wallingford. As part of my practice, I regularly talk with realtors in Wallingford. Over the past several years the inventory of homes for sale has been as low as 14 homes in a given month. During these past three years, when a home has been listed, it often sells at $25,000 to $50,000 above the asking price. Wallingford’s real estate market is a healthy and desirable one, reflecting a town that people don’t want to leave. Instead, each home sale is a competition to get into Wallingford.
There are many talking points that can draw attention to issues in Wallingford. Positions can be spouted with false comparisons to support a narrative. To sort through what is touted as fact versus rhetoric, one needs to look for the data. Many positions taken by my opponent are not supported by data that is relatively easy to locate.
I am a child of working-class immigrants. I started my first job delivering the morning newspaper when I was 12 years old. Since then, other than the eight weeks I took to study for the Bar Exam, I have worked continuously, whether employed, or self-employed. When I remember myself at age twenty-seven, I had been practicing law for two years. It was the year that, with the help of my parents, I bought my first house. I remember being overwhelmed at that point in my life with how much I needed to learn to be successful, both, in my profession, and in life in general. Fast-forward 28 years and I continue to learn, daily.
Like the people of Wallingford, I have been working for the majority of my life. The last fourteen of those years, I have also been working for the people of Wallingford as one of their town councilors. Once elected mayor, like the people of Wallingford, I will continue to work for what is best for this town. I ask you to support my continuing work for Wallingford on November 7, 2023.
Vinny Cervoni is the Republican candidate for mayor in Wallingford.