Republican First Selectman candidate George Temple opened his campaign headquarters at 318 Oxford Road - next to - last week in front of an estimated crowd of 60 people.
He discussed his plans for campaigning, which includes grinding the old shoe leather on door-to-door campaigns and dialing phones on a regular basis to get across his message and that of his running mate, selectman candidate Jeff Haney.
Haney and Temple held a meet-and-greet session with Republicans and discussed their campaigns thus far with a reporter before addressing the standing room only crowd in a quaint headquarter office space where most of the campaign legwork will be conducted.
“Jeff and I want to do what is best for the town,” Temple said, adding that they want people to share with them what they think that will be.
Meanwhile, Temple and Haney said they will spread their message about marketing the community for business, a plan they discussed at length while addressing supporters. Oxford has had some success in recent years in bringing business to Oxford . But Temple said the success of late seems a little overplayed by Schuler and the current administration.
Putting Business Success Into Perspective
Temple took some shots at Schuler on Thursday.
Speaking about a new company that just broke ground in Oxford, , which Schuler said last week at a press conference will bring a conservative $30,000 a year in taxes to Oxford, Temple responded that is good because, well, business is always good as it brings tax revenue. But, Temple said, it’s not going to save Oxford taxpayers a ton.
“With $30,000, you can’t educate three school children,” he told supporters, adding that it’s not enough to pay Schuler’s more than $49,000 annual salary.
Temple also said he wouldn’t call a press conference to “pat myself on the back” every time a business comes to Oxford.
Temple went on to say that he plans to bring business to town that is the right type of business Oxford is looking for. The community must decide what that type of business is, he said, and then work to lure those industries.
Marketing Oxford to Businesses
What Schuler calls economic development, Temple said he calls “marketing the town." If elected, Temple indicated he would sell current and potential business owners on the idea of moving to Oxford.
“It’s my passion,” Temple said of marketing Oxford to businesses. “It’s all I think about. I don’t care if the economy is bad; the economy is bad for everyone. I think it’s time for us to be creative and differentiate ourselves from the types of towns we are competing with for business.”
He said Shelton, where he has his attorney's office, has the right idea: municipal leaders lure business that fits the mold of the town’s overall development plan, he said. And, he said, Oxford has something other towns do not that it should take more advantage of: the Waterbury-Oxford Airport. He believes the runway will lure businesses from all over if it is marketed the right way.
Fellow Republicans on the state level, including state Rep. David K. Labriola, R-Oxford, and Sen. Rob Kane, R-Watertown, have worked with Schuler in attempts to bring an to lure more businesses to the area. But that plan was vetoed by Gov. Dannel Malloy, a Democrat. Kane, who has been extremely critical of Malloy's decision, said during a business leaders meeting last week that he is again working to see that plan to fruition.
Discovering Superhero Fetishes?
Temple and Haney said they have knocked on hundreds of doors since they announced their candidacies. Temple said he’s glad to bring Haney - who has garnered the most votes of any GOP selectman candidate in both the primary and the Republican caucus - because Haney knows many people in town.
“I have made a lot of friends over the years, and they are coming out to support me,” Haney explained.
But, Temple said, campaigning with Haney can be draining in terms of time: Temple says people want to talk to Haney, and that in four hours one day, the duo visited just three homes because potential voters wanted to chit-chat.
“So now I’ve assigned Jeff to Chestnut Tree Hill, and I expect he will be done in March,” Temple quipped.
While most of the house calls have been described as pleasant, there was at least one that was rather odd. Temple said a man answered the door wearing Superman underwear.
“The man said to me that first impressions mean a lot and pointed out that I had a mustard stain on my shirt,” Temple explained to supporters. “So I told him, ‘Sir, you do know you’re standing here in Superman briefs, right?’ …And now I’ve got a sign on his lawn; I love the guy.”
Despite the strange experience, Temple and Haney say they are undaunted. They plan to wear out a couple pairs of shoes apiece before the election.
“I want to hear people’s concerns, plans, thoughts,” Temple said. “And if they want, they can meet up with me here (at headquarters). If I’m not here, I will come down. If I’m not available, people know where to find me.”