Breaking the Cycle of Cynicism

As we prepare for another municipal election season in Danbury, people always ask me for my take on the upcoming mayoral race and my thoughts on the top issues in the city.

By Al Robinson -

After covering the last nine elections, and listening to countless political sales pitches from endless candidates for office from both parties, my views on the local political cycle have grown more cynical. Quality-of-life concerns that have plagued this city for decades are routinely overlooked and not adequately addressed as property taxes and living costs in the state's seventh-largest city continue to rise.

The city streets I traveled as a college student in the early 1990s, as a commuter in the late 1990s, and as a father with two newborns in the 2000s still lack adequate sidewalks, requiring residents to risk their lives while traveling from point A to B. 

Ask any nurse at Danbury Hospital who routinely deals with the ordeal of walking on Osborne Street or Sand Pit Road to Germantown, residents who risk their lives walking along sections of Federal Road, Mill Plain Road, North Street, or South Street, and the decades-old complaints about a lack of care when it comes to the well-being of pedestrians who travel the city streets will be identical.

Cyclists in Danbury are in worse shape than residents who walk the city streets. Compared to other communities in Greater Danbury, an emphasis on bicycle safety is virtually nonexistent throughout all seven wards of Danbury. The lack of broad curbs or bike lanes throughout the city makes commuting on bicycles in Danbury just as treacherous as walking on the same streets. As an avid cyclist, I routinely pack my bike in my car and travel to Brewster NY, where cycling their well-maintained trails doesn't require me to put lives at risk.

In short, residents who will be shocked upon viewing their upcoming property tax bill this month should DEMAND that their elected officials get serious about making streets throughout the ENTIRE city safer for residents whose commute doesn't involve driving in vehicles. There's simply no excuse for residents to endure decades of woefully inadequate roads for pedestrians and cyclists. 

Quality-of-life problems in Danbury deserve more than political rhetoric and back-and-forth mudslinging from both political parties. As individuals who were raised in the city, Mayor Dean Esposito and Democratic mayoral candidate Roberto Alves should be aware of these long-standing quality-of-life concerns; therefore, residents deserve to hear a forward-viewing vision for Danbury, including realistic proposals that immediately address these concerns and move well beyond the city's recent transit-oriented development study. 

Here's hoping that this election cycle will end my growing cynicism.