Paul Giusti steps up for First Selectman
Published 7:30 am, Thursday, April 14, 2011
Add another Republican candidate to the list of those running for First Selectman this November. Paul Giusti, current Board of Finance member, has announced his intention to run for the town's highest office, with the full support of First Selectman Jeb Walker who will be stepping down at the end of this year.
"While issues change over time, the one constant is the need for knowledgeable, experienced leadership in our First Selectman," Giusti said in a statement announcing the news.
Giusti cited more than 10 years of experience with various town positions as reasons for why he is right for the job. With four years on the Board of Finance, four years on the Board of Selectmen and as a member of the environmental commission, Giusti believes he brings the right amount of know-how and understanding required of a First Selectman. His role as chairman of a budget task force implemented by Walker in 2008 is something Giusti recalls as a significant accomplishment that improved the budget process and financial management in town.
"We went through the budget process and outlined what to do in the event of a serious economic downturn and prepare ourselves for the recession," Giusti said. "[Jeb Walker] really demonstrated considerable foresight. This was before Lehman Brothers and AIG and all of that. We were planning for the worst, which really helped."
The scope and nature of the First Selectman's responsibilities is not lost on Giusti either.
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"The First Selectman in New Canaan is a hands-on executive, with responsibility for a $120 million budget, 180 employees and all the complex financial, management, personnel, legal and administrative issues that entails," he said regarding the position's job description in the statement. "Whether it is establishing tax rates, determining the education budget or working with our representatives in Hartford or Washington, the First Selectman is involved in every aspect of New Canaan's governance."
He stressed how New Canaan should be the "community of choice" for everyone moving into the area whether they were families, retailers, restaurants or employees. Using his business experience as CEO of Brookstone Homes, a former project manager at General Electric and a Harvard Business School graduate he spoke about how innovation and creative forces have caused growth in the private sector and how it relates to town government.
"The private sector has seen remarkable improvements in productivity in the past 20 years as they have embraced technology and unlocked the potential of their employees to deliver goods and services more cost effectively," Giusti explained in the statement. "In order to control the cycle of increasing taxes and spending, we need to bring that same innovation to municipal government. We also must reach out to the talented citizens of New Canaan -- whether they have lived here 50 years or just moved to town -- for best practices and new ideas to help drive innovation."
In addition to Walker's support, Giusti has also drawn the support of several Town Council members including Chairman Mark DeWaele and Vice Chairman Steve Karl as well as all the Republican members of the Board of Finance.
"I really have been gratified by the number of people who have approached me and talked to me about running for this position," Giusti said. "It really is very gratifying and very humbling to have so many people come and talk to you and ask you to provide the leadership they feel is necessary."
In terms of why he is running and what he really hopes to achieve, Giusti kept if simple and broad.
"I'm running because the town of New Canaan has been wonderful to my family for years and years," he stressed. "I really love being involved with New Canaan and the governing of town. There are a lot of things we have started in town and I hope to provide the experienced leadership necessary to continue some of these initiatives."
First Selectman Jeb Walker fully believes that Giusti has what it takes to take over his position.
"I had no intentions of stepping down until I was certain that I could trust who might take my place," Walker said. "I trust Paul. I think he's smart. I think he's got leadership abilities and is just the right man for the job."
Selectman Rob Mallozzi announced his candidacy for First Selectman in late February. With Walker stepping down and Giusti joining the fray, it will make for a very interesting Republican Caucus this July, which will decide who can represent the party in November.
In looking ahead, Giusti stated that, "While these are difficult times, by working together New Canaan's best days are in our future."