Heiser takes pride in town’s progress

Admitting to some pride in his “very, very, very small part in improving the town” over nearly a quarter century of public service, Marty Heiser congratulated the candidates who were victorious election night, ending his 24 years on Ridgefield’s Board of Finance.

“I congratulate Amy Mccartney Freidenrich and Sean Connelly and Dick Moccia on their election, and reelection in Sean’s case,” Heiser said in a phone call from Italy on Thursday, Nov. 16. “I’m confident they’ll do a wonderful job, and I wish them all the best,” he said. “ …I’m confident they will continue to make Ridgefield a wonderful place to raise a family.”

In an email sent to news organizations, Heiser pointed to changes he sees as progress for Ridgefield during the years he’d been on the finance board, though he took care to downplay his own role in contributing to it.

I leave with a sense of pride that I played a very very very small part in improving the town. The public-private partnerships like the Ridgefield Playhouse, Tiger Hollow, the acquisition of open space and the recent expansion and improvement of the library are some of the projects that brought me great joy to help in a very small way to shepard along,” he said.

“I also feel pleased that we were able to minimize pressure on taxes, keep Ridgefield affordable, and maintain a trip AAA plus credit and bond rating.”

Among the open space acquisitions he described as public-private partnerships were the purchase of the Bennetts Pond property through eminent domain and the acquisition of development rights to the Brewster Farm property — now The Hickories farm — off Lounsbury road.

Heiser was actually the high vote-getter among three Republicans running for finance board seats in the Nov. 7 election. But he and fellow Republican incumbent Michael Raduazzo were defeated by Democratic challenger Amy Maccartney Friedenrich and Democratic incumbent Sean Connelly in a four-way contest for the two full four-year terms that were on the ballot. And in a separate race for a two-year vacancy, Freidenrich outpolled the Republican Richard Moccia, but resigned — leaving the seat to Moccia — since she also won a four-year seat.

And that ended Heiser’s time on the finance board.

He was already out of the country on a long-planned vacation when Town Clerk Barbara Serfilippi and Registrars of voters Hope Wise and Cindy Bruno conducted a Nov. 13 meeting to announce final election results, following nearly a week of confusion resulting from the cross currents of minority representation laws and candidates — like Freidenrich in the finance board race — who sought and won more than one office.

Serfilippi said after the Nov. 13 meeting that Heiser had been informed he’d be losing the finance board seat he’d held since 1993.

“He was gracious, and accepted it,” she said.

Alex Karsanidi, chairman of the Republican Town Committee, saw a possible ideological factor in Heiser’s loss.

“Marty’s a likeable guy,” Karsanidi  said. “Some of the positions he’s taken on the Board of Education enrollment situation — ‘Why are we hiring more teachers? Enrollment Is going down’ —  if you stir up the PTA contingent in town, they’ll go after you. They don’t want to hear anything about cutting back on teachers.”

Heiser seemed unruffled in his Nov. 16 return phone call to The Press..

“I’m good,” he said. “Twenty-four years doing something is a long time, so I’l look forward to having some weekday nights freed up.”

He’ll still keep busy with his business, Service Unlimited Painting, of course. And Heiser said he’s been getting more involved in one of his longtime leisure interests, hockey.

“I’m actually really enjoying refereeing very high level college hockey, of all things,” he said.

And there’s always family.

“My oldest daughter just had our first granddaughter, who is the absolute love of my life,” Heiser said. “Malaya Elizabeth Vacaro. Malaya means fresh breeze or fresh spirit in Tagalog, the language of the Philippines.

“My son-in-law was originally from the Phillipines, so our granddaughter if half Philippino, a quarter Irish and a quarter German — and I defy anyone to find a cuter six-month-old girl.”

Heiser and his wife, Caroline, have three grown children.

Oldest daughter Nicole, the mother of their new granddaughter, lives in New Jersey and works as a flight attendant with Delta Airlines.

“That’s where we get these free flights to Europe all the time, which I’ll able to do a lot more of,” he said.

The Heisers’ son, Jason, is in Navy, currently based in Virginia Beach.

And their youngest daughter, Grace, lives in Chicago, and “is going to be a Christian missionary starting January first,” Heiser said, “going to India, Malaysia, parts of Southeast Asia.”

She’ll be traveling in affiliation with The World Race, a Christian missionary organization, and working against human trafficking and on nutrition programs, he said.

The family moved to Ridgefield in 1990 — to the best of Heiser’s recollection —  living first on Hobby Drive and moving later to Spectacle Lane.

In addition to his business and hockey, he’ll also continue with the weekly cable TV broadcast, The Marty Heiser Show.

“I still have a lot in my heart to share,” he said.

The show is broadcast in Ridgefield on Comcast Cable’s channel 23, from 9 to 10 Thursday nights — live, often with audience call-in — and rebroadcast Fridays at noon.

The show is also rebroadcast on six other cable networks across Connecticut, he said, so it is aired 10 times a week somewhere in Connecticut.

Looking back on my 24 years on the Board of Finance, I am extremely grateful for the people I have had the privilege of serving with,” Heiser said in his email. Ridgefield is a great town for all of us to live in, raise a family, run a business and retire. And I am completely confident that it will continue to be. Thanks again for all the well wishes and I look forward to living in this wonderful town we all love for many years to come.”

Heiser added, in his call to The Press: “There are no hard feelings here. It’s been a great run. Blessings on everyone, and I’ll see you around town.”