Recently, Trumbull First Selectman Tim Herbst and Trumbull Republican Party boss Jack Testani issued a press release in which they derisively referred to Board of Finance Member Andy Palo as a "Baldwin Democrat."
Herbst and Testani intended the comment to be demeaning and critical. But Herbst and Testani don't understand that their words are taken exactly opposite how they intended them.
I am a Baldwin Democrat. And I'm very proud of it.
You see, most everyone in Trumbull has a great deal of respect for Raymond G. Baldwin, Jr. He's the kind of person that many people would like to emulate. He's the kind of person that you want your kids to aspire to be like. He's the kind of friend you want to have.
Ray Baldwin was born and raised in Trumbull. He attended St. Theresa's Elementary School and St. Joseph High School. Ray served in the armed forces in the U.S. Marine Corps, and fought for our country in Vietnam. Upon returning to Trumbull, Ray once again put his life on the line by becoming one of Trumbull's finest and he served for many years on the Trumbull Police Department. Meanwhile, he earned his law degree and became an attorney all while raising his family right here in Trumbull. He also participated in a wide array of community organizations and activities, including the Trumbull Rotary Club.
Ray Baldwin first ran to be First Selectman in 1999. He was not deterred when he lost to Ken Halaby, and he ran once again and was elected in 2001. He served as First Selectman of Trumbull for eight years. During this time, Ray was at the helm when the quality of the Trumbull public school system was restored after a decade of being underfunded. Frenchtown School was opened while he was First Selectman, as well as the Trumbull Early Childhood Education Center (TECEC). 800 additional students came into the Trumbull school system during the Baldwin administration as public school enrollment swelled from 6,200 to 7,000. The renovation of Trumbull High School was approved under his leadership. In addition to his role as a steward of public education, the Town bought hundreds of acres of land to be preserved as open space, protecting the quality of life in Trumbull for generations to come. Ray Baldwin also restored stability and faith in our police department and improved public safety. The town paved its roads and dramatically improved the quality of all of our parks. On the financial side, Trumbull increased its rainy day surplus in the general fund to $15 million and maintained a stellar bond rating. Home values flourished during his administration.
Ray Baldwin is a good man and he's done a lot for Trumbull. He still contributes to the local community serving as President of St. Vincent's Special Needs, an organization dedicated to helping children with significant disabilities. His is a life well lived, and we should all be grateful to him for his contributions.
So, for these reasons and many others, I will proudly call myself a Baldwin Democrat. The local Republicans can try to use this label in a demeaning way, but I know that many local Democrats will be proud to wear it. The guy put his life in harm's way in Vietnam, and put himself in danger once again to protect life and limb as a member of the Trumbull P.D. I'm proud to stand with him now.
As they saying goes, you don't know what you've got until it's gone. I made a mistake in 2009 by not supporting Ray Baldwin. I will own that error in judgment and seek to avoid those missteps in the future. In retrospect, I can see clearly that Trumbull was in capable hands, and how far we've fallen since.
Thank you, Ray. You may never get your proper thanks because of the nature of politics, but Trumbull is a better place because of you.