Andy Campbell is not new to politics. He’s been active in municipal government as a member of the RTM, and as such has had an opportunity to help shape Branford politics. Now he’s seeking an even bigger political role, running for second selectman on the Democratic ticket along with incumbent First Selectman candidate .
Q: What made you decide to run?
A: I was looking to get back into town government and after I got back on the RTM this opportunity presented itself. [Earlier this year announced he would not run for re-election.] The opportunity was there and I thought I could work with the First Selectman. I thought I could help and I was very fired up and enthusiastic about returning to town government. I thought I could do the job. I do enjoy municipal government, especially here in Branford.
Q: What sparked your political hiatus?
A: In 2003 I decided not to run. I had been on the RTM six years before that. At the time my wife and I were anticipating a third child – we now have four. It was really about making the bed times. Our youngest child is now 5 years old and that’s not so much an issue right now.
Q: Is there one project you’d like to see addressed first should you win in November?
A: I want to make sure that volunteer organizations and volunteer boards and commissions are well supported. It’s very, very valuable work they do. My big deal right now is the Branford Early Childhood Collaborative, which offers low cost or no cost solutions. I see Branford as a whole as being reliant on all of the volunteers. Their work helps foster civility, appropriate government, appropriate civic engagement. These things can all be supported. Without them, the effect can be eroding away of the community spirit that we’re all reliant on.
Q: Which of your personal or professional traits do you think would be most beneficial to you as second selectman?
A: Most of what I do is being a kid’s lawyer. I’m court appointed to represent children. As such, I feel for the little guy – people without money, parents, family trees. I tend to solve problems that exist in the real world. I know they require hard solutions, hard paths to success. I can be rather determined and strong-headed, but I absolutely abhor failure. It’s not an option. I work to find a solution. So I guess the associated traits would be optimism, determination, pragmatism.
Q: Why do you want to be second selectman?
A: I want to give back to the community that’s given me so much. My wife and kids and I do feel extraordinary [lucky] living here. It’s a nice place. I’ve been interested in government a long time – the process of government... and, joining a winning team is easy.
Q: What do you think of your party and its goals for Branford?
A: I believe the local Democrats are very invested in the future of Branford. It’s also chock full of good people. I used to be DTC chairman. I find that I’m in agreement with the Democratic Party, which is why I’m a Democrat.
Q: What do you think of the Republican Party?
A: I believe the Republican Party is well intentioned regarding what’s best for Branford as they see it. I can’t speak to their goals because I’m waiting for further articulation. I’m waiting for the Republicans to express what their goals are. I truly respect, admire and look up to many of them [but] I would like to hear more from the Republicans.
Q: Is there anything coming from the Republican camp that you think could hurt your campaign?
A: I could complain about things like the commercial vacancy rate. We disagree on the numbers. The Republicans say 25 percent, Unk puts it closer to 12 percent. But that’s not a problem for a campaign, it’s just a number. [More important to me is] the disaffection that many Americans have for government right now, substantially due to the economy. People look at deficits in Washington and Hartford. But [in Branford] we’re paying our bills. The town is well run and has been for a long time. What I don’t want is for some level of despair that exists there generally to sink down to town level. There are education plans, health plans, transportation plans going on. These are sorts of things that are percolating constantly.
Q: Win or lose, do you think you would run again?
A: Sure. I would like to be involved.
Q: What kind of economic development would you like to see in Branford?
A: I want the town to grow smart. I think that includes the essentials of the Bob Dow Plan [pursuing development on the outskirts of town, off of I-95 exits, to help attract nonresidents of Branford], but obviously it goes beyond that. The Plan of Conservation and Development, long term that’s going to be really kind of building to the edges of the Dow Plan, which I favor. Also long term, exporting a reputation of educational excellence. That will drive economic development. The census demographics show that we are trending away from young families. We can choose to attract anybody we want to our town. If we attract young families we should strengthen the real estate market and [the number of] skilled employees coming to the town. Also, by focusing on kids I think we can cure some of the problems – for example, domestic violence, nutrition. Does it spur economic development to help drive down poverty? I think so. If employers are considering coming to Branford, they want to see parks, a thriving downtown, good schools. Employers should love those sorts of things because they’re good for their employees.
Q: What do you think you and First Selectman Anthony DaRos would bring to Branford if you win in November that your opponents wouldn’t?
A: The experience and desire to solve the town’s problems in these tough times.