Election 2017: Republican eyes fourth term on Board of Selectmen
NEW CANAAN — Nick Williams has seen a lot of changes in the decade he’s been involved in New Canaan politics. The 25-year town resident got his start as a member of the Board of Education in 2007 where he worked his way up to chairman. In 2011, he traded in the school board for the Board of Selectmen.
Now Williams, a senior partner at the multinational law firm Clifford Chance US, is seeking a fourth term as a selectman of the town he describes as “the best community in America.”
Williams said his experience as both a selectman and Board of Education member has shown him firsthand some of the underlying issues in New Canaan.
“I still got work to do,” he said, when asked why he’s running for another term. “To give a good
example: We still have work to do in terms of erecting a cellphone tower. That’s an important issue because it’s ultimately a safety issue and I’ve seen that firsthand over the years. When I was chairman on the Board of Education and on the Board of Selectmen, we had some really bad storms. I know (the problems) all too well, having worked in the emergency operations center for literally days on end. I realized the value, the importance of having cellphone communications throughout the entire town. We need to do more on that — I want to do more on that.”
Williams said he and his wife even looked into hosting a cellphone tower on their 9-acre Smith Ridge Road property, but were told their yard wasn’t suitable by AT&T and Verizon. In addition to improving cell coverage, Williams wants to spend his fourth two-year term solidifying New Canaan’s budget, especially in the wake of recent state budget struggles.
“People ask me what’s the biggest problem in New Canaan,” he said. “I say, ‘That’s easy. We happen to be located in the state of Connecticut.’”
Williams said he wants to look at the longer-term capital spending of the town, particularly when it comes to town-owned buildings and what can been done with the over 50 properties the town owns going forward. He said he would also support consolidation of town services, given the potential for state budget cuts, provided it doesn’t affect the quality of the town’s schools.
Williams, whose three children went through New Canaan public schools, said supporting the schools will continue to be one of his priorities over the next two years in office.
“That’s a bedrock of the real estate prices in town,” he said. “You have to be competitive. You’re competing with other towns for new folks trying to leave the city.”
Williams said he’ll continue to support school projects, like the construction of new fields, that will help appeal to local families’ interests and maintain New Canaan’s spot as one of the finest districts in the country.
The 54-year-old hopes to attract families to town by working on the town’s commuter problems, something he experiences firsthand as a commuter.
“The single biggest problem in town from a commuter perspective is not parking,” he said. “It’s the length of time one spends on the train. I’m the only person running for office who’s a commuter. I’m on the train every day. My door-to-door commute on a good day is an hour and 45 minutes each way. My daily commute in aggregate is three hours, 15 minutes.”
Williams said he supports additional commuter parking at Locust Avenue, Talmadge Hill and the Lumberyard railroad lot, but hopes he can help cut down local commuters’ commute time once other town matters are solved.
Despite concerns over cell service and parking, Williams said he’s still proud to call New Canaan his home and to continue serving it for a fourth time as a selectman. Williams is uncontested in the election with a guaranteed spot on the three-person board. The other two slots will be filled by Democrat Kit Devereaux and Republican Kevin Moynihan, although which one will serve as the town’s first selectman will be decided on Election Day.
“I think (New Canaan is) the best community in America, let alone Connecticut,” Williams said. “It’s got everything you want from a small town in this country: a beautiful downtown village, first-rate parks, one of the best school systems in the country and a wonderful family culture. It’s got everything. Its picturesque downtown village is like something out of a Norman Rockwell painting.”