New Canaan and Darien's elected officials feel vacation policy is unnecessary
Although town policy does not limit elected officials' vacation time, residents in neighboring towns have questioned the integrity of officials who take too much time.
New Canaan First Selectman Jeb Walker said a policy is unnecessary because the majority of elected officials are unpaid.
"Putting a vacation policy on them would be like rubbing salt in a wound," Walker said.
For Walker, there wasn't an advantage to the town or the taxpayers to institute a vacation policy for elected officials.
However, he acknowledged that elected officials have an obligation not to thumb their noses at the electorate by abusing the vacation policy.
Walker, who hasn't taken a vacation in three years, said most of the elected officials he has met go out of their way to meet their obligations to the town.
"People have common sense to give more than they take," Walker said.
When asked if he had any concern that an elected official's vacationing habits could affect reelection, Walker said he wasn't concerned.
"If that affects my reelection, it should be based on the job I've done and not on the amount of vacation I've taken," Walker said.
However, he acknowledged there are some officials who abuse the fact that elected officials don't have a vacation policy.
"There are some people who abuse that right and they should be called out," Walker said.
Walker is planning on taking a vacation this year during a lull in his calendar. He said the vacation has been in the works for two years and he is looking forward to getting away for a short time with his wife.
Darien First Selectman David Campbell has been under fire for taking time off, including a trip to Park City, Utah, during the March storm that left many homes without power for days.
"I don't think it's anyone's business how much vacation I take," Campbell said. "I'm not concerned at all because I've only taken three weeks off this year."
Campbell took office last November.
At a recent Board of Selectmen meeting, Campbell's vacations were called into question.
"There are about three people who bring this up," Campbell said. "I'm glad they think I'm doing such a great job that they miss me that much."
Campbell said it isn't an issue when he's gone because there is a protocol in place for times when the First Selectman is absent.
In the case that Campbell is out of town, the determination of who is left in charge is done alphabetically, he said.
"The Democrats politicized the [March] storm," Campbell said.
Former Darien First Selectman Evonne Klein said that there isn't a policy in place for elected officials as there would be for employees but the elected officials are ultimately at the whim of the electorate.
"I was careful about the amount of vacation I took," Klein said. "I typically took at most three weeks of vacation and then I would only be away for one of those weeks." Klein added that she would take her vacations so that they coincided with her children's vacations.
However, Klein also pointed out the fact that there isn't a policy in place for how much vacation the town clerks, registrars and other officials can take in a given year.
For Klein, her vacation was determined by the workload she had on hand. "It's really all about time allocation, if you're busy and have projects, you're here," Klein said.
During her tenure as First Selectman, Klein did not recall a time when a resident every questioned the amount of vacation she took. "Mostly I was here at Town Hall or I was easy to reach," Klein said.
"I didn't take a summer vacation during my last term as First Selectman," Klein said.
In a statement sent to the Darien News on Wednesday, Klein said residents of Darien deserve a 24/7 full-time First Selectman. Klein went on to say that it was important however, for the First Selectman to take time off in order to revitalize because the job is so demanding.