By Kate Ramunni
HAMDEN – Mayor Curt Balzano Leng has worked for more than two years to improve town finances and services, and he’s asking for another two years to continue that work.
The Democratic Town Committee last week unanimously endorsed Leng for a second full term. He took office in May of 2015 after winning a special election held after former Mayor Scott Jackson resigned to take a job in Gov. Dannel Malloy’s administration.
Leng earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Connecticut and a master’s degree in education from the University of New Haven.
Leng had served as Jackson’s chief administrative officer for five years before becoming mayor. He was first elected to serve on the Legislative Council in 1997 and in his time on the council represented the Sixth District, as well as the whole town as a councilman-at-large. While on the council, he served as the chairman of the Finance Committee.
After Jackson announced his resignation in April of 2015, Leng announced he would run to replace him. He faced Republican Bob Anthony and independent candidate George Levinson in a special election the following month. After winning that election, he went on to win a full term in November of 2015.
“I pledge to lead with careful stewardship of our town finances, by maintaining and enhancing town services and taking actions designed to help protect our community and our neighborhood quality of life from north to south, east to west,” Leng said.
In recent years, the town has begun to climb out of a fiscal hole dug mostly from decades of underfunding the town’s pension account. The Legislative Council approved $125 million in pension obligation bonds in 2013 under Jackson, and has since contributed increasing amounts of money to the fund, that at one point totaled $50 million. The recommended amount that should be in the fund is more than $450 million; today, it contains about $150 million.
During that time, the town’s credit rating plummeted, but has since recovered as the credit agencies recognized the steps taken by both Jackson, and then Leng. Standard and Poor’s recently reaffirmed the town’s “A+” long-term rating, with a stable outlook,.
Leng also, for the first time in recent memory, proposed a town budget this year that included a mill rate decrease. While Leng initially proposed a one-mill decrease, the budget approved by the Legislative Council included a one-tenth of a mill decrease because of the uncertainty of how much aid the town will get from the state.
“Being able to lower our local taxes for the first time in 10 years, while continuing to improve our neighborhoods with key investments, is a record I’m excited to build on should the residents offer me the opportunity to co to he serving as mayor of our great town,” Leng said.
“It has been an honor and privilege to serve as Hamden’s Mayor, and it is a responsibility I take very seriously,” he said. “I’m proud of the accomplishments we’ve achieved together: investing in our infrastructure, investing in our residents, investing in our safety and investing in increased transparency and access for civic participation.”
Leng has become known for his availability to residents, both in person and through social media. He hold regular “Mayor’s Night Out” events in spots around town, and initiated a monthly newsletter to keep residents up to date on government happenings. He regularly communicated with residents on his Facebook page, where he often solicits opinions on a variety of issues.
Leng is married and has a son, Cooper, who attends St. Rita School.