PLYMOUTH, CT – A mayoral candidate in a small, close-knit town in Connecticut has placed high priority on public safety and the welfare of town police by setting his sights on vastly improving the local police station.
Joseph Kilduff is a lifelong resident of the town of Plymouth, Connecticut, which covers an area of just over 22 square miles and has a population of 12,169.
A 2011 magna cum laude graduate of Central Connecticut State University with a degree in criminology, Kilduff entered the local political scene in his beloved hometown in 2013 when he joined the local Republican Town Committee, where he is now serving as Chairman.
He told us:
“I had always been interested in politics, mostly at the national level growing up.
“But as I got a little older and as I started to understand how things really work, you get to realize that it’s really your local government that really affects your day-to-day even more, especially than federal government and politics, but even the state government.
“The local government is responsible for public schools, and making sure your roads are paved, public safety with police and fire. Those are the things that you interact with on an almost daily basis.”
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In 2016, Kilduff took the position of tax collector in Plymouth. He left an enjoyable job in statistics and analysis at ESPN, but he found that the tax collector position allowed him to be more involved in his local, close-knit community while enjoying more reasonable working hours.
Such a community, we learned from him, is simply full of people seeking to help others.
“We just have, in my opinion, some of the best volunteers that you are going to find anywhere.
“We have a great volunteer fire department that goes above and beyond for our community. We have a great volunteer ambulance corps. A bunch of organizations including a Lions Club here in town, they run an annual country fair.”
Although Plymouth may be a red-leaning town in a blue state, Kilduff spoke fondly of the entire community working together in spite of political differences that may exist.
He told us:
“It’s just a small town feel, but just a great atmosphere, great neighbors, and everyone tries to put their best foot forward and really move the town forward in a positive direction despite what may be going on in state politics and national politics.
“I think we try to do the best we can, and I really admire that about this community. We really try to look out for each other.”
Kilduff’s affection for the community of Plymouth has now led him to run for mayor, looking to fill the shoes of retiring Republican Mayor David Merchant.
He told us that he wants to:
“Hopefully give back to my community that gave so much to me.”
“I think I could really make a difference. There are a lot of things in town that we need to get done, and I want to be the one to kind of lead that effort….
“I don’t want to sugar coat it. Plymouth has its issues, like any municipality. But you know, we want to continue to try to address those and continue to make Plymouth a place where people want to live, work, and plant roots.”
Some of the issues Kilduff wants to address include infrastructure needs, primarily roads, as well as fixing local athletic fields.
He told us he is prepared to take on the challenging balancing act involved in procuring funds to pay for such needs without placing extraordinary burdens on taxpaying citizens, and making the “tough decisions” that will be necessary when the time comes.
In addition, very high on his priority list is a new police station in the town of Plymouth.
Currently, the police station shares the lower floor area of the Plymouth Town Hall building, which was built in the 1970s.
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Since then, Kilduff told us:
“Our police force has grown. The challenges of policing in the 21st century have grown exponentially….
“They really need more space. They need an … upgraded working environment.
“Something needs to be done, and hopefully we can get some state funding to help us along and make sure that our officers have a safe working environment for them to effectively police.”
“We want good people to want to be officers. And in order to do that, you have to support them and make sure that they are in a working environment that is as safe as possible and one in which they can excel.”
One particular issue with the station’s small size, he told us, was in relation to detaining juveniles:
“We don’t have a separate space for juveniles, and today, that’s a big no-no. You have to have a separate space for holding juveniles so they’re not with the general population…
“We don’t have a ton of people in the jail every day, obviously, but just the fact that we don’t have that available, should that be needed…. really we need to make sure we have a police station that’s safe for not only inmates, but also our officers.”
At this time, he added:
“If we have a juvenile down there, we have to make special accommodations, and that can really affect their day-to-day job.”
Other items that “really [need] to be upgraded” include “office space, how they store evidence.”
The current administration, Kilduff told us, has put together a Police Building Committee, and as mayor, he plans to see the committee’s plans to fruition. There first needs to be state funding and then, if that is successful, there will be a referendum for the voters.
The detailed assessment and plans for a possible future police station come from collaboration with an experienced architect in the field of public safety facility design.
The planned state-of-the-art police building would be a freestanding facility. The prospective site is property already owned by the town and near to the current police building.
The projected total square footage would be 16,275, a marked increase from the current total gross square footage of 3,685. A storage outbuilding of 1,750 square feet would also be added.
This building is master-planned specifically for a police station, and will of course address and improve upon Kilduff’s areas of concern such as detention issues and evidence storage issues.
Kilduff also told us that if, for some reason, funding does not come through or citizens vote down the current plans, as mayor he will still find a solution in order to create a safe working environment for Plymouth’s police officers.
Kilduff expressed to us his support for police and policing, saying:
“I would say that the vast, vast majority of [police] officers just want to make the community that they work in a better place, and their jobs are very stressful, very dangerous, and we need to understand that as well.
“And whether that’s making sure that they have proper training, proper mental health resources, to make sure they can do their jobs properly and effectively while staying safe.”
“I think that those who actually want to defund the police are not really thinking through their objective with that.
“It’s quite the opposite, actually. We need to make sure that they have the resources they need, and a lot of areas don’t have that.
“We need to make sure that is corrected, because I think that when that is corrected, you’ll see less and less of these bad apples kind of getting through the cracks, and you’ll see even more effective policing.”
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Fundraising for Kilduff is squarely connected with the close, small-town feel of Plymouth.
Contributions for all Republican candidates for the November 2 election go into one single Republican Town Committee kitty, and a special gathering with a ‘hometown’ feel will be held on September 11: a cornhole fundraiser.
Interested competitors/fundraisers can sign up for this event on the Plymouth GOP webpage, and can look forward to a time to remember and honor those emergency responders and civilians lost on September 11, 2001, as well as a competitive cornhole contest.
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Kilduff concluded our interview with a message of inspiration to those who might be considering running for public office.
Touching again on the importance of community, he told us:
“I really take public service seriously. I think that you need people to always step forward and be in government.
“I know sometimes politics gets a bad rap, and sometimes deservedly so, but if good people shy away from serving their community, all that’s left are probably the people you don’t want in leadership….
“Fighting for your community is worth it, so I would encourage anyone that wants to get involved, that sees something wrong in their community, step forward and offer themselves in service….
“We as a community, and as a country, really, need to get back to seeing service as something to be proud of, and that’s what I’m trying to do.”
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