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Candidate Profiles For The 2017 Newtown Municipal Election

Published: October 31, 2017

The Newtown Bee circulated a questionnaire and request for photos from all but the First Selectman candidates on the November 7 municipal election ballot, so voters can familiarize themselves with the residents who have volunteered to run for public office.

Previous profiles on First Selectman candidates Will RodgersDan Rosenthal, and Andrew Clure have already run on-line and in our print editions.

All other candidates were free to answer as many of the questions that were asked, but were not required to. Some candidates did not submit responses. Any candidate who included a photo had that image published in the October 20 and 27 print editions of the newspaper.

Those candidate profile responses are as follows:

Maureen Crick Owen
Board of Selectman

Address: 16 Tamarack Road, Newtown, CT 06470

Phone: 203-733-4562

E-mail: maureen@maureencrickowen.com

Website: maureencrickowen.com

Party affiliation: Democrat

Family: My husband, Cramer Owen, and I have been married for 17 years.

How long have you lived in Newtown? I was born and raised in Newtown. I am proud that I am 11th generation in this great community. I grew up on Glover Avenue which was, at one time, owned by my great-great grandfather, William H. Glover.

Education: I attended Newtown schools and graduated from Newtown High School. I received my paralegal certificate from Fairfield University.

Occupation/Employer: For most of my professional career, I was a paralegal specializing in residential and commercial real estate and corporate and family law. I am the Office Administrator for Newtown Volunteer Ambulance Association, Inc. I am also the Zoning Enforcement Officer for the Borough of Newtown.

What is the most critical governmental matter facing Newtown today?

Managing Newtown in a revenue constrained environment. Newtown residents already shoulder north of 90 percent of the local tax burden, and with a likely reduction of state revenue, we are at a critical inflection point. We cannot simply rely on conducting town business the same way we always have and expect different results.

If elected, how do you plan to contribute towards addressing that issue?

If elected, I, along with the Board of Selectmen, will look at how we will manage the town’s short- and long-term priorities with the possible loss of state funding. Immediately we would review and revise our current spending priorities and reassess what our needs are. Then we would turn our focus to our long term priorities by developing a strategic plan with the help of our business and residential community. In addition, focus and energy would be brought to expanding our commercial tax base. No matter what the impact of the state’s budget is on Newtown, we need to work harder and more creatively to serve both our commercial businesses and residents and do so without relying on increased taxation.

What is the single most valuable skill or talent you can offer, and how will you apply that talent or skill to best serve the community?

With my deep understanding and knowledge of Newtown, I am motivated to make Newtown an even stronger community while honoring our past. In my role as president of Newtown Village Cemetery, member of Parks & Recreation Commission, elected member of Board of Assessment Appeals and other many community involvements, I have the ability to work with people and be part of a team to move Newtown forward.

Jeff Capeci
Board of Selectmen

Address: 52 Bear Hills Road, Newtown

Phone: 203-270-0468

E-mail: Jeff@theCapecis.com

Website: RodgersandCapeciForNewtown.com

Party affiliation: Republican

Family: Spouse, Tanya, Son Bradley, daughter Greta, Clover Pug/Jack Russell Terrier, Wrinkles Pug/Dachshund, Dior Black Cat

How long have you lived in Newtown? 20 Years

Education: BSEE Hofstra University, MS CS Polytechnic Institute of New York University

Occupation/Employer: Business Analyst / ASML Inc.

What is the most critical governmental matter facing Newtown today?

As a volunteer, it has been my priority to keep Newtown a community where people of all ages can prosper. While this is a reason I decided to run for the Board of Selectmen, the most critical matter we face in the near term will be the ramifications of the turmoil in Hartford and the subsequent lack of a state budget. If the eventual budget looks anything like that of the governor’s proposal, Newtown is slated to lose millions of dollars in annual grants. It will be up to the next elected leaders to figure out how to make up for a shortfall that represents almost ten percent of the town budget.

If elected, how do you plan to contribute towards addressing that issue?

To make Newtown less vulnerable to financial uncertainties at the state level, it is imperative that the town is weened of state funding. This effort will not be completed overnight, but accomplishing it will require the attention of the new board starting on December 1. I will collaborate with others to address this issue in areas including:

Regionalization and/or the privatization of municipal services — The more the Board of Selectmen works with the Board of Education to provide services, the more efficient the town will be. We can do the same with our neighboring towns. For example, as the study of the regionalization of emergency communications I coauthored found, whether we join another regional center or invite other towns into a center located in Newtown, significant savings can be found without jeopardizing response times.

Broaden the commercial tax base — We need to invite new commercial development to Newtown that preserves our charm. I will work to make sure Newtown has a reputation of being business friendly. Companies are attracted to Newtown by, among other things, our proximity to Boston and New York. We need to make sure permitting processes and regulations are no more onerous than necessary. We also need to remove barriers that inhibit existing businesses from expanding.

Find other ways to offset revenue loss — Property tax increases are an easy fix and one that may appeal to some. I consider this the worst possible option. Raising taxes makes it more difficult for those who are struggling or on a fixed income to stay in Newtown. I will work with our state legislative delegation to find areas of mandate relief to offset revenue loss.

What is the single most valuable skill or talent you can offer, and how will you apply that talent or skill to best serve the community?

With 12 years of volunteer service to Newtown, including eight years on the Legislative Council, I have the experience necessary to guide Newtown during these times of financial uncertainty. I understand the structure of town government, I have ideas for improvement and I will use my analytical skills to find prosperity despite the financial problems in state government.

Valerie Dudeck Hart
Town Clerk

Address: PO Box 3562, Newtown, CT

Phone: 203-491-7843

E-mail: Valeriedudeckhart@gmail.com

Party affiliation: Democrat

Family: I have two children, Presley age 14 and Maclane age 11.

How long have you lived in Newtown? Almost 40 years

Educational information: Newtown High School, Graduated 1988; Masters of Science, Elementary Education, University of Bridgeport, August 1995; Bachelor of Arts, Psychology, Western Connecticut State University August 1992.

Occupation/Employer: I am currently employed at Newtown MediSpa as a medical assistant/front end manager/Billing Supervisor. Before Newtown MediSpa I was a classroom teacher and reading/writing specialist for New Canaan Public Schools.

What is the most critical governmental matter facing Newtown today?

One critical matter facing the town clerk today is the ease of obtaining information in the most efficient, manageable way. Everyone has a very busy life. When the time arises for individuals to access public records or obtain a license, it needs to be in a convenient, efficient manner. This includes people that request such information by mail. Interaction with the town clerk should be a helpful, positive experience.

If elected, how do you plan to contribute toward addressing that issue?

Upon entering this position, I will take inventory and suggestions from the community on what they feel are areas that seem difficult or time consuming. Continuing education for myself and the staff, paired with critical thinking and implementing the latest technology will assist our ability to provide such services. The town clerk is a public servant. The best interest of the community should come first.

What is the single most valuable skill or talent you can offer, and how will you apply that talent or skill to best serve the community?

One strong skill I have to offer this community is that I have always been a problem-solver. In any position I have held, I have always been able to identify areas of weakness, and deliver a solution. Providing a new perspective, it is important to work with the assistant town clerks as a team, to assess areas of concern and address them. I am eager to serve members of this community, listen to their concerns, and assist them in a productive, efficient manner.

Debbie Aurelia Halstead 
Town Clerk

Address: 23 Cherry Street

Phone: 203-270-3645

E-mail: (home) daag1983@yahoo.com and (work) Debbie.halstead@newtown-ct.gov

Website: Find me on Facebook at Debbie Aurelia Halstead and also check out the resources I have listed at newtown-ct.gov/town-clerk

Party affiliation: Republican

Family: My husband Bill is the chief of Sandy Hook Volunteer Fire & Rescue and we have been married for four amazing years. We are blessed to have a part of our everyday lives two adorable grandsons’ ages one and four and the most thoughtful and sweet granddaughter age nine that has us wrapped around her little finger!

How long have you lived in Newtown: I was born and raised here and graduated from Newtown High School Class of 1983. My grandparents Jim and Alice Aurelia were first to move here from Stratford back in 1953.

Educational information: High school, college and other educational information:

Over the past ten years as town clerk I have earned every accreditation available in my profession as a Master Connecticut Town Clerk (MCTC) and Master Municipal Clerk (MMC). I continue to attend regular state conferences and county meetings in order to stay current with the legislative and procedural changes that will affect the town clerks office and to implement these changes to promote smooth, consistent office procedures.

Occupation/Employer: I have proudly served Newtown as your town clerk for the past ten years, and as an assistant town clerk for over two and half years prior.

What is the most critical governmental matter facing Newtown today?

Budget constraints.

If elected, how do you plan to contribute towards addressing that issue?

For the past ten years I have applied for grants totaling over $53,000. This has enabled me to obtain the latest technology which is currently generating monthly revenue for the town.

What is the single most valuable skill or talent you can offer, and how will you apply that talent or skill to best serve the community?

I have used my experience, education and knowledge of daily operations over the past 12 years and invested it back into our community by implementing best practices in cutting-edge technology, continuity operations planning, local government budgeting, public relations and disaster recovery planning just to name a few. It would be my honor to continue to represent our town and humbly ask for your vote November 7.

Ann LoBosco
Town Clerk (write-in)

Address: 27 Copper Creek Circle, Newtown CT 06470

Phone: 203-648-6257

E-mail: annlobosco@gmail.com

Party affiliation: Republican

Family: Two children: Charlie (age 26) who now lives in Stamford, CT and Michael (age 23) who lives in Newtown

How long have you lived in Newtown? 25 years

Education: Northwestern Regional High School #7, Winsted – 1981; University of Connecticut, Storrs, BS, Human Resource Management, 1985; Certified Town Clerk, 2011; Notary Public

Work Experience: Town of Newtown, Director of Social Services, 7/2016 to Present

Town of Newtown, Caseworker, Social Services, 10/2012 to 7/2016

Town of Newtown, Assistant Town Clerk, 5/2007 to 10/2012

What is the single most valuable skill or talent you can offer, and how will you apply that talent or skill to best serve the community?

I feel the town clerk’s office in any town is the customer service desk for the town hall. It is where we all go to find records, to find maps, to find what we need first. At the end of the day, I don’t think the current town clerk’s office is providing the kind of incredible customer service that we in Newtown are paying for through our very generous taxes. Since we are all paying taxes that are increasing every year, don’t we all feel that when we go to the town hall we should get great customer service? That’s why I am running for town clerk. I am going to greet you with a smile, I’m going to work with you to solve your needs. I’m going to make sure that everything you need is not only processed efficiently and effectively, but also in a very pleasant and respectful way. To put it in a nutshell, I’m running because I want to give the people of Newtown the same type of incredible customer service that I myself expect when I’m served by Town officials.

Daniel Delia
Board of Education

Address: 10 Brookwood Drive

E-mail: ddelia4newtownBOE@gmail.com

Party affiliation: Republican

Family: Jennifer (wife), Daniel (14), and Emma (17)

How long have you lived in Newtown? 21 years

Educational information: Joel Barlow High School; Syracuse University – BS CPA Accounting; Sacred Heart – Master of Arts in Teaching; Sacred Heart – Intermediate Administration

Occupation/Employer: Next Generation Science / STEM Education – Grades 3-5 / Cromwell Public Schools, Cromwell

What is the most critical governmental matter facing Newtown today?

In my opinion, the most critical matter facing Newtown is the budget crisis in Hartford. Governor Malloy’s lack of ability to establish a budget is having a devastating impact on our schools. As a teacher, I see how the uncertainty impacts education, and as a community member, I see the potential impact on our community in the form of cuts to education and increased taxes.

If elected, how do you plan to contribute towards addressing that issue?

Addressing the fiscal hurdles facing our schools, while promoting educational excellence will be difficult.

Having the experience of both an auditor of major nonprofits and as an educator in Connecticut gives me a perspective that is very unique. My contribution will be in the form of promoting education while keeping unnecessary spending under control. I will never sacrifice education, but I will challenge spending in areas that do not clearly serve the children of Newtown.

What is the single most valuable skill or talent you can offer, and how will you apply that talent or skill to best serve the community?

The most valuable skill that I can offer to Newtown is my ability to be forward-thinking using a financial and holistic mindset as it applies to education. I will look at every decision from a multi-faceted lens, and clearly articulate to the members of the board and the community what I think is the best course of action and why. With me on the board, you will know exactly where I stand and why I am taking that position.

Michelle Embree Ku
Board of Education

Address: 28 Platts Hill Rd

Phone: 203-364-9862

E-mail: michelle.embreeku@gmail.com

Website: facebook.com/ku4boe

Party affiliation: Democrat

Family: I am married to Warren Ku. We have three boys in the Newtown Public Schools, and my parents, Alan and Lea Embree, live here in town, as well.

Lived in Newtown for: 8 years.

Educational information: I attended a fantastic public high school in Evanston, Ill., obtained a BS in Animal Sciences from Cornell University and have a PhD in Pathobiology from Brown University.

Occupation/Employer: I currently spend much of my time volunteering on the Newtown Board of Education. I am the vice chair and serve on many of the subcommittees. I am also a Connecticut Association of Boards of Education area director, and the vice president of EdAdvance’s Board of Directors. I recently finished an appointment as a co-chair of a Task Force to Study Life Threatening Food Allergies in Schools for the Connecticut General Assembly. I have also taught for Brown University and done scientific research for Brown University, Rhode Island Hospital, and several pharmaceutical companies.

What is the most critical governmental matter facing Newtown today?

After more than 20 years of underfunding, the state’s promise to provide a base amount to deliver adequate education to all students has never been realized, and the state’s obligation to adequately fund teacher pensions is unfulfilled. At least some of the costs of these oversights will likely impact towns such as ours.

In Newtown, after many years of flat or minimally increasing budgets and scrutiny by those who promise creative solutions and belt-tightening, the margins are small. The coming years will be a test of our community’s resolve to choose our priorities wisely.

If elected, how do you plan to contribute towards addressing that issue?

I have been vigorously advocating for Newtown at the state level, and I will continue testifying in Hartford and staying in touch with legislators. And should the state’s financial woes land in the lap of Newtown, I am committed to finding solutions and considering all possibilities objectively and constructively, because the current “most critical governmental matter” — balancing a budget — has the potential of devolving into an unproductive and dysfunctional disagreement.

How Newtown’s elected officials and town residents communicate with each other to find solutions is vitally important to our town. We must be committed to having respectful dialog, productive conversations and mutual listening. When facing challenges, it is our responsibility to ensure that these tests do not split the community. Regardless of the solution, it will be useless if Newtown emerges a divided town.

What is the single most valuable skill or talent you can offer, and how will you apply that talent or skill to best serve the community?

My strength is in my belief that our town is stronger together than as a collection of factions. I refuse to believe that one person, one board, or one political party has all of the answers. Bringing together a balance of perspectives on the Board of Education as well as from other boards and the public will be important in making sure we address these decisions in a thoughtful and effective manner. By making data-driven decisions, advocating for a transparent and inclusive process, and encouraging a more cooperative spirit, I am confident that I can make a positive contribution to the board as we take on these challenges.

Deb Zukowski
Board of Education (write-in)

Address: 4 Cornfield Ridge Rd., Newtown

Phone: 203-270-8806

E-mail: DebZ.NewtownBoE@gmail.com

Website: facebook.com/DebZ.NewtownBoE

Family: Married to Charles Zukowski for 34 years

Two daughters, both graduates of Newtown High School who now work in scientific and high tech fields.

Party affiliation: Republican

How long have you lived in Newtown? 15 Years

Education: Attended public school in Ticonderoga, N.Y. Bachelor’s Degree in Engineering from MIT.

Occupation/Employer: Retired. 30+ years in Computer and Information Systems research and development.

What is the most critical governmental matter facing Newtown today?

We are likely going to see a substantial reduction in revenue from the state, possibly to the tune of several millions of dollars, over the next few years. This loss of revenue, along with potential other fiscal requirements passed to us from the state could amount to a significant portion of our budget year after year. As a town, we need to ensure that we continue to provide the services that our community relies on while also keeping our taxes under control to help those who want to remain a part of or community do so.

If elected, how do you plan to contribute towards addressing that issue?

Any significant loss of state revenue will likely require cutting our budget, as our community is often opposed to unexpectedly large tax increases. As a member of the school board I would encourage that we begin preparing for the challenge in two ways. First, we need to look closely at every expenditure and understand how instrumental it is for educating our children. That is, what educational value are we getting from the program and how much is it costing us? We especially need to ensure that we protect programs that clearly benefit our ability to provide quality education in a safe and healthy environment. Second, we need to work with other boards to ensure that we all understand the contributions of every part of the town budget so that we, as a town, can minimize the effects on important town services for all Newtown residents.

What is the single most valuable skill or talent you can offer, and how will you apply that talent or skill to best serve the community?

I am a pragmatic problem solver, having honed the key traits to be so during my career in computer and information systems research. At work, I learned how to: 1) analyze hard problems, looking beyond the obvious to build more resilient solutions, 2) research data and the knowledge of others who have experienced the same problems — understanding that the data should inform solutions not dictate them, and 3) reach out to the community to communicate problems and brainstorm potential solutions.

The Board of Education is often faced with complex issues and needs pragmatic problem solvers. We need to analyze how well our programs are working. We need to creatively build on those programs, leveraging the best that other schools and experts discovered in addition to crafting our own. Finally, we need to reach out to the community, because often they are the ones who understand the problems best.

Daniel Cruson Jr
Board of Education

Address: 30A Dodgingtown Rd, Newtown

Phone: 203-240-4904

E-mail: crusond_boe@newtown.k12.ct.us

Website: facebook.com/crusonnboe/

Party affiliation: Republican

Family: I live with my wife Bethany Cruson and two boys Danny and Nicky

How long have you lived in Newtown? I was born and raised in Newtown, moved away after college, and then returned about 2 years ago.

Education: I graduated from Newtown High School in 2001 and from SUNY Oswego with a BS in Computer Science in 2006

Occupation/Employer: I own my own web development company CrusonWeb, based here in Newtown.

What is the most critical governmental matter facing Newtown today?

The lack of a state budget and the lost funding to the town is unfortunately the biggest issue we are facing today. This effects all areas of our town, it is something that all boards in town will have to face both now and in the upcoming budget season.

If elected, how do you plan to contribute towards addressing that issue?

The Board of Education will have to find ways to spend responsibly, ideally without the need to cut key programs that makes our education system great. One of the things that I have been pushing for is finding ways to utilize the space we have to bring in more revenue to offset costs. However, last year and this year I did go through the proposed budget to try and identify the items that were “nice to haves” that weren’t critical to programs so that we could spend responsibly with the uncertainties on the state level looming.

What is the single most valuable skill or talent you can offer, and how will you apply that talent or skill to best serve the community?

I am very analytical and don’t jump to snap decisions. I analyze all of the information available to me and then propose options or make the best decision I can. I have done this with all of the issues I have faced on the board to date and will continue to do so going forward.

Debbie Leidlein
Board of Education

Address: 29 Little Brook Ln.

Phone: 203-982-3702

E-mail: leidleind_boe@newtown.k12.ct.us

Party affiliation: Democrat

Family: Husband Brian, Emily 26 (NHS ‘09), James 21 (NHS ‘14) Alexa 17 (NHS ‘18)

How long have you lived in Newtown? 12 years

Education: BS from Liberty University

Occupation/Employer: Educator for over 20 years / The Unquowa School

What is the most critical governmental matter facing Newtown today?

The most critical matter facing Newtown is providing a desired level of services, including high quality schools, while not overburdening residents with oppressive taxes. A quality education system is critical to the families in our community and all residents in maintaining high property values. With uncertainty at the state level, it is now more important than ever to be fiscally responsible stewards of taxpayer dollars.

If elected, how do you plan to contribute towards addressing that issue?

My experience as both an educator and an 8-year member of the Board of Education will allow me to continue to evaluate how our taxpayer dollars are being spent to provide the best education possible in Newtown and apply the knowledge I have gained while serving the community to reduce spending when appropriate.

What is the single most valuable skill or talent you can offer, and how will you apply that talent or skill to best serve the community?

I believe that I have demonstrated my ability and willingness to listen to all sides and to ask the right questions and make informed decisions in the best interest of our children. I have worked well with all of my fellow board members over the years, regardless of party affiliation, and look forward to continuing to do so.

Herb Rosenthal
Edmond Town Hall Board of Managers

Address: 70 Main Street

Phone: 203-426-0660

E-mail: HCRosenthal@aol.com

Website: newtownctdems.org

Party affiliation: Democratic Party

Family: I am married to Michelle Williams Rosenthal. I have four children and two step-children all of whom attended Newtown Public Schools. We have ten grandchildren, three of whom attend Newtown Public Schools. We have a dog, Max, and a cat, Sunny.

How long have you lived in Newtown? 64 years

Education: Graduated from Newtown High School and Fairfield University

Occupation/Employer: Wealth Manager / United Capital Financial Advisers

What is the most critical governmental matter facing Newtown today?

The potential loss of state aid will make it even more imperative for the town to prioritize well, and operate in an efficient, cost effective manner. Additionally, we need to think outside the box to creatively broaden our taxbase.

If elected, how do you plan to contribute towards addressing that issue?

I will work with my colleagues on the Edmond Town Hall Board of Managers to continue to rehabilitate and preserve that wonderful gift from Mary Hawley and operate as efficiently and cost effectively as possible. In addition, I will seek creative ways to generate additional revenue to lessen the need for taxpayer assistance.

What is the single most valuable skill or talent you can offer, and how will you apply that talent or skill to best serve the community?

Leadership and administrative skills that I developed during my 14 years on the Board of Selectmen, 10 as First Selectman; 14 years on the Board of Education, three as chair, 14 years on the Board of Directors of Education Connection, ten as chair; 19 years on the Board of Directors of the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities (CCM), two as President; 19 years on the Board of Directors of Connecticut Interlocal Risk Management Agency (CIRMA), two as chair: 20 years on the Board of Directors of the Housatonic Valley Resources Recovery Authority, 12 years as Treasurer. I will use these skills to help improve the functioning of the Edmond Town Hall Board of Managers.

Jennifer N. Guman
Edmond Town Hall Board of Managers

Address: 38 Main Street

Phone: 203-814-8640

E-mail: jenguman@gmail.com

Family: My husband and I have two young girls, 8 and 2 and live on Main Street with our two dogs and two cats.

How long have you lived in Newtown? 9 years

Education: Massapequa High School (Long Island); Fairfield University

Occupation/Employer: Account Director at Affinion Group

What is the most critical governmental matter facing Newtown today?

Newtown is fortunate to have great town services, resources and an engaged community. With the development of Fairfield Hills as a central hub of town activity and fiscal concerns from an uncertain state budget, we are challenged to make new use of historic assets such as the Edmond Town Hall. We need to ensure they stand out as landmarks of Newtown that serve a valuable purpose for our community.

If elected, how do you plan to contribute towards addressing that issue?

If elected, my goal is to bring fresh eyes and new perspective for the space at ETH. The beautiful historical building is more than just a movie theater and I look to help expand its uses by establishing a consistent calendar of events from comedy shows to concerts, dance recitals and arts which will aid in the growth of the community making it a go-to place for families. I believe I can help the existing board move it forward to a place where families and friends go to create ever lasting memories.

What is the single most valuable skill or talent you can offer, and how will you apply that talent or skill to best serve the community?

My professional background is in Marketing with a focus on Account Management, Campaign Strategy, Customer Engagement, and Customer Loyalty. I will use my experience in these areas to generate enthusiasm in the community for events at ETH, create new opportunities for using the available space, and develop awareness of the building’s assets.

Jennifer Chaudhary
Edmond Town Hall Board of Managers

Address: 1 Southbrook Lane, Newtown

Phone #: 203-240-6038

E-mail: jenETH@4newtown.com

Party affiliation: Republican

Family: My husband Neil and I have been married for 21 years and we have 2 children, 11 and 9 yrs. old

How long have you lived in Newtown? We have lived in Newtown for 14+ years.

Education: Bachelors of Science degree in Business Management and a certificate in Para-legal studies.

Occupation/Employer: I currently have a dual role of stay at home mom and office manager for our business, Preusser Research Group. Former management position at Verizon Corporate Headquarters.

What is the most critical governmental matter facing Newtown today?

The town budget and subsequent taxation.

If elected, how do you plan to contribute towards addressing that issue?

At Edmond Town Hall it is imperative that we do what we can to become as financially independent from the town as possible in an effort to do our part help to reduce the burden on the taxpayer. Edmond Town Hall is making great efforts to revitalize and broaden who we are in order to become a multigenerational destination.

It will take time to get there but I believe I can help continue the process I helped build that will make that happen.

What is the single most valuable skill or talent you can bring, and how will you apply that talent or skill to best serve the community?

I have extensive business management skills and I understand the complex issues facing businesses today. Edmond Town Hall is unique and its needs are vast. It will be a delicate balance in meeting those needs with our already tight budget.

David Ruhs
Police Commission

Address: 8 Bridle Path Trail

Phone: 203-731-7745

E-mail: druhs@hotmail.com

Website: newtownrepublicans.org/profiles/david-ruhs

Party affiliation: Republican

Family: My Wife Nancy and I have been married for over 16 years. We have two daughters, Hannah and Sarah. Hannah is a freshman at Newtown High School and Sarah is a 7th grader at Newtown Middle School.

How long have you lived in Newtown? I have lived in Newtown most of my life. After my wife and I were married, we moved to London for six years. In 2006, we decided to move back home to Newtown, to raise our family.

Education: I graduated from Newtown High School in 1990 and graduated from Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts in 1995. I have a dual degree in Accounting and Finance with a minor in French Literature.

Occupation/Employer: I worked as a commodities trader for 25 years on Wall Street. Currently I am the owner of Ubreakifix, in Brookfield.

What is the most critical governmental matter facing Newtown today?

The Police Commission members will have some large tasks ahead of them over the next few years. Currently they are dealing with many issues, such as increased congestion in town, traffic and speeding on our back roads. New measures will need to be created in order to tackle these problems. Along with the new police station being planned and developed, many questions and decisions will need to be made to handle these and other important issues in town.

If elected, how do you plan to contribute towards addressing that issue?

Adopting new ideas, such as increased traffic speed cameras strategically placed on some of our troubled roads, in order to reduce speeding and make our neighborhoods safer. I am a former member of the Newtown Planning and Zoning board, so I am well versed on our town regulations. I am looking forward to using my past experience and education to aid in the development of our new police station.

What is the single most valuable skill or talent you can offer, and how will you apply that talent or skill to best serve the community?

As a small business owner, I had to budget, plan, and execute in order to be successful. Having a degree in finance and accounting, I look forward to implementing some “cost benefit analysis” pertaining to the design of our future police station. Our police officers and community currently face many restrictions under their existing facility. The new police station will need to encompass many changes, so we can make sure that the design and construction will accommodate both the growth and needs of our officers and community.

Andy Sachs
Police Commission

Party affiliation: Democrat
(No other information provided)

Scott Cicciari
Police Commission

Address: Winton Farm Road

Phone: 203-561-7487

E-mail: scicciari@gmail.com

Party affiliation: Republican

How long have you lived in Newtown? 14 years

Education: Graduate from Northeastern University, School of Business

Occupation/Employer: Vice President, IT Professsional

What is the most critical governmental matter facing Newtown today?

From a police commission perspective, I would have to say that the opioid epidemic and awareness programs are one of the most critical matters facing us today that no one wants to talk about — I could have talked about roads or speeding, but with our kids/families, opioid awareness matters more!

If elected, how do you plan to contribute towards addressing that issue?

If elected to the police commission board, I will do everything I can to support programs with our School Resource Officers that build awareness and preventions around this matter.

What is the single most valuable skill or talent you can offer, and how will you apply that talent or skill to best serve the community?

Most folks like complain without putting any effort towards the issues. My talent/ kill is of one of service. I have a passion to be elected so that I can serve in a capacity to make a difference.

Barbara O’Connor
Zoning Board of Appeals

Party affiliation: Republican

Alan J. Clavette
Zoning Board of Appeals

Address: 3 Fox Hollow Lane, Sandy Hook CT 06482

Phone: 203-426-2080

E-mail: ajclavette@msn.com

Party affiliation: Democratic

Family: Information you would like included (spouse, significant other, children, pets, etc.): spouse: Mary Clavette, 3 children

How long have you lived in Newtown? Since 1992

Education: Western CT State University

Occupation/Employer: Certified Public Accountant, owner of Clavette & Company, LLC-CPA’s

What is the most critical governmental matter facing Newtown today?

Newtown’s government needs to be responsive to the needs of its residents and businesses. This includes planning for the town’s future in a more strategic way, encouraging desirable economic growth and enhancing better engagement in town matters.

If elected, how do you plan to contribute towards addressing that issue?

I would contribute to those efforts by staying involved in enhancing the process for residents who seek variances, promoting sound and sensible growth, and clearly communicating with applicants who come before our Board.

What is the single most valuable skill or talent you can bring, and how will you apply that talent or skill to best serve the community?

I am seeking reelection to the Zoning Board of Appeals, where I have served since 1995. My critical thinking, analytical and problem solving skills allow me to be of service to the community, and I am happy to serve.

Prerna Rao
Zoning Board of Appeals

Address: 26 Palestine Road, Newtown CT

Phone: 203-880-5999

E-mail: prerna@RaoLegalLLC.com

Website: newtownctdemocrats.org/candidates-2017/zoning-board-of-appeals/prerna-rao/

Party affiliation: Democratic Party

Family: Alex Copp is my husband and we have a 1 year old son.

How long have you lived in Newtown? Moved to town over two years ago.

Education: JD, Quinnipiac University School of Law, with honors; BA, The George Washington University, with honors ; Diploma, Trumbull High School

Occupation/Employer: Attorney and owner of Rao Legal, LLC, in Trumbull

What is the most critical governmental matter facing Newtown today?

I believe that the two of the most critical features of local government are fairness and transparency. Faith in local government must be earned, and the best way to earn that faith is to make sure all government action is open, fair, and transparent.

If elected, how do you plan to contribute towards addressing that issue?

As an attorney, I understand the importance of not only reaching the correct result, but ensuring that the process is always fair. To me, this means encouraging maximum public input, while making sure residents understand exactly why the board is making any particular decision. As I’ve learned in my career, it’s sometimes impossible to please everyone, but there should always be confidence that the process itself is fair.

What is the single most valuable skill or talent you can bring, and how will you apply that talent or skill to best serve the community?

My practice areas include land use and zoning, and I consistently strive to be diligent, thorough, and fair. I hope to apply my work ethic, skills, and knowledge for the benefit of Newtown.

Jane Sharpe
Zoning Board of Appeals

Address: 62 Underhill Road, Sandy Hook, CT 06482

Phone #: 203-426-5539

E-mail: jane@design-ltd.com

Party affiliation: Republican, Incumbent three-term member of Zoning Board of Appeals.

Family: Married to Don Sharpe for 50 plus years, children Kim Sharpe Mead and Marcus Sharpe, who grew up in Sandy Hook and graduated from Newtown High, UConn, etc.

Lived in Newtown: 52 years.

Education: Syracuse University, BA in English; BA in Journalism from Samuel I. Newhouse Communications Center. Also Yale University, post-graduate studies in Economics.

Instructor and Lecturer: Southern Connecticut State University, Quinnipiac University

Occupation/Employer: Owner, Design Limited Homes LLC.

Retired VP Corporate Communications and Shareholder Relations, People’s United Bank.

What is the most critical governmental matter facing Newtown today?

Newtown faces the most critical budget shortfall in its history — due to Gov. Malloy’s inability to meet his own budget and his plan to pass these deficits on to the state’s more efficient towns. Our town leadership, which has a triple AAA rating for being fiscally responsible, may be forced to absorb some of this disastrous deficit.

If elected, how do you plan to contribute towards addressing that issue?

Residents — whether long-timers or new — love this community. As a three-term member of the Zoning Board of Appeals, I work with other members to help keep the character of this town — while being as flexible and reasonable as possible. Regulations must be met, but hardship is the focus and we listen carefully to all concerns.

What is the single most valuable skill or talent you can bring, and how will you apply that talent or skill to best serve the community?

As co-owner of a regional log home sales firm, I regularly work with A-2 surveys, drafted plans and various permits. I am familiar with local and national building codes. In town, I have been a long-time volunteer with a work ethic and have served on a variety of commissions and committees — including Charter Revision, the Edmond Town Hall Board of Managers, FISH, Town & Country Garden Club, Women’s Forum, Citizen’s Police Academy, Hattertown Tax District, Business and Professional Women, and others.

Steve Singlak
Zoning Board of Appeals

Address: 5 Autumn Ridge Rd.

Phone #: 203-304-1770

E-mail: ssinglak@hotmail.com

Party affiliation: Republican

Family: Wife Melissa of 14 years, and 3 kids: Madison (12), Stephen (9), Sadie (8).

How long have you lived in Newtown? 8 years

Education: BS, Babson College

Occupation/Employer: Stone Farm, Owner

What is the most critical governmental matter facing Newtown today?
As a Connecticut business owner, I struggle with the state’s direct and indirect impact on our ability to hire and strengthen the state and municipalities.
If elected, how do you plan to contribute towards addressing that issue?
In reality, my position on the ZBA cannot contribute to addressing this issue. However, being involved with the ZBA has kept me in tune with what is happening in town.
What is the single most valuable skill or talent you can bring, and how will you apply that talent or skill to best serve the community?
Problem solving — working at PricewaterhouseCoopers for seven years in a “turn around” group, and now owning my own business has in the most basic sense, helped me solve multiple issues pertaining to increasing revenue, decreasing costs, and investing wisely.

Judit DeStefano
Legislative Council, District 1

Address: 12 Horseshoe Ridge Road, Sandy Hook

Phone: 203-906-9226

E-mail: juditnewtownlc@gmail.com

Website: facebook.com/Judit-DeStefano-for-Legislative-Council-D-1-1474565029512158/

Party affiliation: Democrat

Family: I live with my husband Ed, stepdaughter: Michelle (18), two boys: David (10) and Bennett (8), and pets Max (the cat) and Ruby (the border collie). Stepchildren Melissa and Chris are grown and on their own.

How long have you lived in Newtown? Almost five years.

Education: Bachelor of Arts from University of Delaware, Master of Education from Fairfield University.

Occupation/Employer: Benefits Associate for Aflac.

What is the most critical governmental matter facing Newtown today?

Like most Connecticut municipalities, Newtown faces the challenge of limited resources, competing priorities, and a fiscally overwhelmed state government. While not unique in these needs, we are also a community still in recovery — necessitating resource allocation and thoughtful planning around sensitive issues. We are a sleepy bedroom community that wants to maintain its historic presence — our wish to maintain these qualities is sometimes in conflict with the development needed to help ease our financial burden. Lastly, we are a town of strong-minded residents with diverse points of view, unafraid to speak out and act on our convictions. But sometimes, that same strength divides us. We need to remember that we are all working toward shared goals – a thriving community that supports and meets the needs of each of its members.

If elected, how do you plan to contribute toward addressing that issue?

I plan to continue listening and learning. I plan to continue to read up on, research, and talk to my peers and constituents about issues of significance; weigh costs and consequences against potential benefits; offer my voice; and vote my heart, knowing that there are no absolutes but there is an opportunity for Newtown to move forward as a model of community and resilience. I think it is imperative to develop a plan for growth and execute on it, while recognizing that surprises are not uncommon and there is no strength without flexibility. I support thoughtful community planning that will allow us to continue to move forward while maintaining the bucolic charm that is synonymous with Newtown. Promoting commercial growth will also help offset our increasing tax burden — something we desperately need. In all interactions, and with all decisions, it is vital to maintain integrity, always conduct government work with complete transparency, and treat everyone respectfully.

What is the single most valuable skill or talent you bring, and how will you apply that talent or skill to best serve the community?

I research and I listen — because I know I don’t know everything. I work hard to contribute to my community by always keeping the future of Newtown at the forefront of my decisionmaking. I speak from my own place of understanding — as a mother who above all values educational and youth opportunities for her children — while recognizing that every community member, including young adults, empty-nesters, and our thriving senior population, may have different priorities with equal merit. Governing is a balancing act — and if re-elected in November, I will continue to listen to and represent all District 1 and Newtown voters.

George C. Guidera
Legislative Council, District 1

Address: 24 Equestrian Ridge

Phone: 203-227-5748

E-mail: GuideraForNewtown@gmail.com

Party affiliation: Republican

Family: Married to Linda for 52 years; three daughters and one son; seven grandchildren (five granddaughters [two in Newtown] and two grandsons), and a Dachshund named Louie.

Lived in Newtown for: Four years

Education: Staples High School (Westport); Colgate University; Georgetown University Law School.

Occupation/Employer: Attorney at law, self-employed

What is the most critical governmental matter facing Newtown today?

The action by Governor Malloy to cut $4,893,944 from Newtown’s State Education Grant, and to force Newtown taxpayers to pay another $3.5 million in State Teacher Pension money. It is the 800-pound gorilla in the room. This is not a state issue. It is a local issue because the obligation to pay the bill falls solely on the Newtown taxpayers. How can Newtown possibly pay for a net loss of seven percent of its total revenue without a devastating effect on its taxpayers and homeowners, especially seniors and others who are already having problems making ends meet? Malloy has thrown away the state’s prosperity and ruined the Connecticut economy. The collapse of the state government as a traditional supporting partner to its towns and cities, and as a significant contributor to excellence in local education, is the major crisis facing Newtown today.

If elected, how do you plan to contribute toward addressing that issue?

First, one thing I would not do is cave in to the contention of Governor Malloy that the state has the legal right to off-load the full cost of excellence in education onto the towns. Our State Constitution provides: “There shall always be free public elementary and secondary schools in the state.” (Art. 8, Sec. 1). That Constitutional provision puts the educational obligation on the state. Second, I would support any action to legally compel the state to pay the Education Grants. Third, as a former 12-year first selectman, I understand town budgets, how to control never-ending demands for increased expenditures, how to institute a culture of fiscal responsibility at town hall, and how to negotiate to get more for less. I also know how to keep the fox away from the chicken coop.

What is the single most valuable skill or talent you bring, and how you will apply that talent or skill to best serve the community?

My experience in public service for over 35 years as a state representative and state senator (eight years), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee (two years), first selectman of Weston (12 years), author of the Connecticut Child Abuse Act, Legislative Commissioner of the State of Connecticut (12 years), member of the Newtown Charter Revision Commission (two years), and vice chairman of the Newtown Commission on Aging (two years), all the while practicing law as an attorney. Keeping seniors, grandparents, parents, and children all active and interactive in Newtown is an important part of my vision for Newtown, because three generations of wisdom and experience are extremely important. So is excellence in education, support for our volunteers who work tirelessly for those in need, and creating an affordability that allows people to live out their retirement years in comfort in Newtown.

Chris Eide
Legislative Council, District 1

Address: 44 The Old Road

Phone: 203-304-1968

E-mail: chriseide4newtown@gmail.com

Party affiliation: Democrat

Family: Married to Amanda Eide for five years. Two children, Logan (2 years old) and Margot (10 months old).

How long have you lived in Newtown? 31 years

Education: Received BA in biology and MA in teaching from Western Connecticut State University

Occupation/Employer: 8th Grade science teacher for Danbury Public Schools

What is the most critical governmental matter facing Newtown today?

The state’s fiscal crisis is affecting Newtown in tangible ways. We need to ensure that we, as a town, take steps to protect ourselves. This will mean making difficult decisions. However, budgetary gimmicks employed in recent years like applying bond premiums to the current fiscal year, deferring pension payments, pushing off contributions to the medical self-insurance fund, and cutting road maintenance are all short-term solutions that kick the can to future budgets.

If elected, how do you plan to contribute toward addressing that issue?

I will advocate for a responsible budget that positions Newtown for success in the present and in the future. We need to balance our needs to keep a reasonable mill rate with the needs of the town. I will not vote for solutions that put additional strain on the town budget in future years. As we currently are bonding to pay for roads that will have deteriorated long before they are paid off, I trust that Newtown voters will see the wisdom in this position.

What is the single most valuable skill or talent you bring, and how will you apply that talent or skill to best serve the community?

I view myself as a critical independent thinker and I believe that is reflected in my voting record. When approaching problems, I take a principled approach and I vote as my conscience would dictate. However, I also have an open mind willing to accept new evidence. I readily acknowledge that there is always more to be learned about a subject and, as I learn, my views evolve. In this world where the economic and technological landscapes change at a rapid pace, these skills are essential to a responsive town government.

Jay Mattegat
Legislative Council, District 1

Address: 1 Sealand Drive

Phone: 203-426-8819

E-mail: jaymattegat@gmail.com

Party affiliation: Republican

Family: Married to Melanie Allen Mattegat 35 years last August; Two grown children: Lauren Mattegat Morehouse and her husband Dan, and Jacey Mattegat. And our first grandchild Madison Morehouse born on Father’s Day 2017; Two great dogs, Chloe and Hailey, both Hungarian Vizslas.

How long have you lived in Newtown? All my life with the exception of four years while on active duty in the United States Army. My granddaughter Madison is now sixth generation to live here. My great-grandparents came here on 1902 and lived on Sherman Street. My grandmother was one of 16 children.

Education: I graduated in 1979 from Newtown High School and joined the Army a month later, when I returned home from Turkey in 1980 I was stationed at Fort Devens, Mass. I did some collage courses at a community college.

Occupation: Aside from the United States Army, I worked for DuPont and then at Julie Allen Bridal as a co-owner with my wife, Melanie, for 24 years. I am now retired.

What is the most critical governmental matter facing Newtown today?

Getting our property taxes under control, keeping our senior citizens, and making their taxes affordable to them. Another is our infrastructure of roads; they are deplorable. For too long they have been neglected.

If elected, how do you plan to contribute toward addressing that issue?

If elected, I plan on fiscally responsible people in all departments of Newtown to identify and stop waste of taxpayers’ moneys. To make sure we have moneys appropriately spent, and hold the line on raising taxes, especially our senior citizens.

What is the single most valuable skill or talent you bring, and how will you apply that talent or skill to best serve the community?

I have been a volunteer in this community most of my life. I hope my skills as a business owner and volunteer will help. I offer the following:

1978 Youngest Newtown auxiliary policeman.

1978 Volunteer Special Olympics held at NHS

1979 United States Army four years active duty, Remote Turkey during Iranian hostage 12 months.

1994 Inland Wetlands commission

2001-07 Volunteer Newtown Ambulance (paramedic truck driver)

 2008 Severed Board of Directors Nunnawauk Meadows nine-year term. Still an active volunteer member, call bingo, help set up yearly tag sale, help maintain garden club, maintain bocce court, etc.

2009 Constable Town of Newtown.

2014 Member Connecticut Alliance Infragard.

2015 Public Safety and Health Committee present.

2017 Sandy Hook Fire & Rescue LobsterFest fundraising worker

Paul Lundquist
Legislative Council, District 1

Address: 148 Currituck Road

Phone: 203-217-2165

E-mail: lundquist.paul@gmail.com

Website: Facebook: Paul Lundquist for Legislative Council D-1

Party affiliation: Democrat

Family: My wonderful wife, Elaine; two remarkable children, Eddie (Reed School) and Matt (NHS); two dogs (Louie and Skye); and a cat (Pinecone)

How long have you lived in Newtown? 18 years

Education: BS in business administration and marketing science, University of Connecticut

Occupation/Employer: Managing partner, YouGov/Harrison Group. A strategic marketing research and consulting services firm — started in Newtown in 1996, acquired by YouGov in 2010.

I serve as a senior advisor to clients in a range of industries spanning high tech, interactive entertainment, media, finance, and consumer goods. Provide strategic counsel to clients on the full breadth of marketing issues impacting product development and decisionmaking at every stage of a product or service’s life cycle, from concept incubation through post-release growth and market maturity.

What is the most critical governmental matter facing Newtown today?

We’re still awaiting a state budget, and specifically, waiting to learn what the impact might be to Newtown in terms of potential reductions in state revenue (we could possibly receive many millions of dollars less than what we’ve traditionally relied on). With this backdrop, I believe we need to be prepared to focus our priorities on public safety, education, and roads — our core essential needs. So the great challenge is how to respond to the potential reduction in state revenues while protecting taxpayers, as well as our fund balance (which helps retain our high bond rating, and in turn, saves lots of tax payer money when bonding for our long-term capital projects), all while still moving our town forward across our top priorities. This all leads to a second equally critical mission: providing tax relief through growth in our grand list by attracting and supporting appropriate business growth.

If elected, how do you plan to contribute toward addressing that issue?

Understanding all the elements listed above, knowing what the moving parts are, and being able to work collaboratively with all Legislative Council members as well as other elected officials — this is what’s needed to help us navigate the next two years. The Legislative Council has already taken action to anticipate some of the potential revenue shortfalls from the state, and we’ve also taken a hard look at the town’s debt policy to help pull back the reigns on future bonding and borrowing (by reducing our current debt cap and establishing a policy that includes further reductions over the next five years). It’s easy to be conservative when we’re talking about spending our own local tax dollars. The challenge is being smart about where we focus those resources to continue to move our town forward. We need leaders who are great listeners and collaborators, and able to easily explain whatever difficult decisions lie ahead. I’m well suited for the job and consider it an honor to have the opportunity to help.

What is the single most valuable skill or talent you bring, and how will you apply that talent or skill to best serve the community?

I believe our town government works best when our deliberations include a mix of perspectives that reflect all taxpayers’ opinions. Over the past six years, as a member of the Legislative Council, I’ve supported fiscally conservative financial policies and goals. I’ve stood alongside my colleagues on many decisions and actions taken. Yet, I’ve also stood alone, or at times in a small minority, on other issues where I did not agree. I am known as a reasonable and rational team player. I can synthesize facts and identify commonalities of opinion across diverse perspectives. I always endeavor to base decisions on facts and data, with clear rationale to frame the outcome. I seek nothing more than to lend my experience, common sense, and leadership to help Newtown continue to be the great place we all chose to raise our families, enjoy our friends, and live a wonderful life.

Joe Girgasky
Legislative Council, District 1

Address: Lake Road

Phone: 203-788-4470

E-Mail: jgnewtownct@yahoo.com

Website: newtownrepublicans.org

Candidate Statement: For 24 years I proudly call Newtown my home. It’s a pleasure to live and serve with my friends and family here. The most glaring issue we face is the inability of the majority in the State Legislature to balance its revenues. Essentially, outspending revenues without explanation. Today, we (Newtown) and many other Connecticut communities face the burden of these deficits. Remaining in touch with how these trends in Hartford will continue to impact us locally is imperative. A proactive approach that anticipates how we may best address these issues is needed. Spontaneous, reactive responses are not what we should be expecting. Focusing on our goals, needs, and challenges at hand is important more than ever. Defining our goals, understanding our obstacles and utilizing our strengths to keep us all working together for Newtown is my direction.

Jordana Bloom
Legislative Council, District 2

Address: 34 Main Street

Phone: 203-297-0234

E-mail: jordanabloom87@gmail.com

Website: facebook.com/jordanabloomnewtown

Party affiliation: Democrat

Family: Spouse John Fletcher, four children, daughter Jamison Fletcher, 21, sons Jackson, 19, Hudson, 16, and Hayden Fletcher, 14, and our wonderful three-legged dog, Nutmeg.

How long have you lived in Newtown? 15 years

Education: Dartmouth College bachelor’s degree

Occupation/Employer: Reception/Newtown Center Pediatrics

What is the most critical governmental matter facing Newtown today?

We clearly face several challenges in Newtown, from state budget issues to capital projects and long-term strategic planning. But in my judgment the most critical governmental matter isn’t the government — the most important issue we can address is how to significantly expand participation of our population in town policy.

There are many dedicated and skilled people in our elected positions, but to truly improve our governance and reach the best solutions to all these issues, we need to encourage and give voice to a broader range of our citizens — across all age ranges, political parties, and experiences. We have a lot to contribute, and if we can harness these abilities, we will make better decisions to successfully move our town forward.

If elected, how do you plan to contribute toward addressing that issue?

During this campaign I have called people, knocked on doors, and attended various town meetings. I’ve been impressed with so many of the new people I’ve met, along with people I’ve known for years. But I have noticed generally limited participation in government activity itself. My plan to enhance our community engagement is to continue to reach out to all our town residents, including through the schools, to educate and encourage broader and deeper issue involvement. I will continue to be a champion for all our citizens to be involved and share their knowledge and input, in forums such as the legislative council, school committees, and finance and budget discussions.

What is the single most valuable skill or talent you can bring, and how will you apply that talent or skill to best serve the community?

In my experience working with various school groups and running a business, I have developed a talent for bringing together people of diverse perspectives to work toward a common goal. In my view that skill is the most important element of what will best serve Newtown — an ability to effectively listen to the people of the community and, in doing so, to gather the best and broadest contributions to address our issues. The whole is better than the parts, and I am excited to help lead all of our population to work together to best address all of our important challenges.

Matthew Mihalcik
Legislative Council, District 2

Address: 93 Berkshire Road, Sandy Hook

Phone: 203-815-7999

E-mail: mihalcik13@gmail.com

Website: facebook.com/mattmihalcik

Party affiliation: Republican

Family: Melissa Beard and our pet family, three dogs and three house rabbits.

How long have you lived in Newtown? Four years

Education: Notre Dame West Haven High School, Central Connecticut State University BA in criminology, minor in political science, Post University, certificate in forensic accounting

Occupation/Employer: Newtown Savings Bank branch manager

What is the most critical governmental matter facing Newtown today?

There are two things: the complicated state budget issues and economic development. Unfortunately we are subject to much of what transpires at the state level, but we have great representation from our state delegation. However, there are many other representatives that swing the issues against Newtown. As for economic development, we must continue to be smart with our zoning and land use criteria. Also we need to make sure that we foster relationships when prospective businesses are interested in calling Newtown home.

If elected, how do you plan to contribute toward addressing that issue?

My banking, EDC, and library board background will help me make the difficult decisions when it comes to budget and business tax incentive. Over the years I have learned how to draft, present, and review municipal budget documents. I have worked with different town departments and boards as a representative of EDC.

Having been involved in these conversations and presentations will eliminate the on-the-job training.

What is the single most valuable skill or talent you bring, and how will you apply that talent or skill to best serve the community?

Objectivity. In many cases there is not only one correct decision; nonetheless a decision that must be made. I will take my time, weigh all the options and also see if there are different ways where we can arrive at the same outcome. I am a problem solver, I like to be prepared and ahead of the issues that arise. By doing so we are able to reduce the impact that issues may have on our town and possible avert any impact at all.

Clinton DePaolo
Legislative Council, District 2

Address: 39 Buttonball Drive

Phone: 203-501-4561

E-mail: clintdepaolo@gmail.com

Website: clintdepaolo.com

Party affiliation: Democratic Party

Family: Wife, Anouk. And a 3-year-old son, Nathan.

How long have you lived in Newtown? Three years. Two years as a renter, one year as a homeowner. I am relatively new in town. However, being new doesn’t abate how much I love Newtown.

Education: Southington High School; BS biomolecular sciences: Central Connecticut State University; MS biomolecular sciences: Central Connecticut State University

Occupation/Employer: Cancer research at Albert Einstein College of Medicine.

What is the most critical governmental matter facing Newtown today?

Long-term planning. We are too focused on immediate impact and short-term gains. Focusing too much on the short-term can jeopardize the future.

If elected, how do you plan to contribute toward addressing that issue?

We need to start setting ourselves up for five- or ten-year sustainability. Tackling present issues is important, but not at the expense of long-term growth and goals for Newtown. The state has shown it is wholly irresponsible with long-term sustainability. We need to excel were the state fails.

What is the single most valuable skill or talent you bring, and how will you apply that talent or skill to best serve the community?

Analytical thinking. As a cancer researcher I use facts to develop long-term plans, looking for the most successful outcomes. Newtown needs data and fact-driven decisionmaking to achieve long-term, sustainable fiscal improvement. I want to improve Newtown’s long-term health through facts.

Dan Wiedemann
Legislative Council, District 2

Address: 13 Clearview Drive, Sandy Hook

Phone: 203-426-1035

E-mail: dgw0315@yahoo.com

Party affiliation: Republican

Family: Married to Anna for 40 years, three children, three grandchildren, one of which started kindergarten in Newtown this year.

Lived in Newtown for: 30 years

Occupation/Employer: Stock market operations, Geneve Corp, Stamford.

What is the most critical governmental matter facing Newtown today?

Our rising cost of living/taxes. With the budget crisis of this state and with the state looking to off-load some of their responsibilities to municipalities it is imperative we elect fiscally responsible representation. I will be searching for ways to control our spending without decreasing our services.

If elected, how do you plan to contribute toward addressing that issue?

I plan to continue promoting economic growth, which will decrease our reliability on residential taxation. I will continue to support minimal use of tax abatements to attract more business to our town. I am also a supporter of continuing decreasing our dependency on borrowing. We recently decreased our debt cap to nine percent of our overall budget with the anticipation to decrease it to 8.5 percent within five years.

What is the single most valuable skill or talent you can bring, and how will you apply that talent or skill to best serve the community?

With 30-plus years’ experience in the financial industry, I plan to continue to look for ways to increase services without increasing expense. As the former chair of the Shared Services committee, we looked for ways to combine departments, purchasing etc, between the town and the Board of Ed. We found that many processes were already being shared but there were others that could be done also, such as consolidating duplicate departments between the town and Board of Ed. The accounting systems have been combined with substantial savings to the budget each year.

Daniel T. Honan
Legislative Council, District 2

Address: 60A Main Street

Phone: 203-788-8058

E-mail: danielthonan@gmail.com

Party affiliation: Democrat. I am running for re-election to the Legislative Council for my fourth term. Currently I serve on the Ordinance and Municipal Operations committees of the Council.

Family: Married to Colleen D. Honan, two grown children, Patrick and Eileen, both graduates of Newtown High School.

Lived in Newtown for: Lifelong resident of Newtown.

Education: Graduate of Newtown High School Class of 1975 and the American Academy McAllister Institute of Funeral Service in New York City.

Occupation/Employer: My occupation is funeral director. I am the owner of the Honan Funeral Home, 58 Main Street, Newtown.

What is the most critical governmental matter facing Newtown today?

I believe the most critical government matter facing Newtown today is the uncertainty of the funding for education and municipal purposes that the State of Connecticut will or will not be providing to Newtown.

Newtown must have a Legislative Council that will work together to find solutions to the problems that will arise from the loss of a significant amount of state aid. We must be willing to listen to the financial expertise of our finance director and our Board of Finance to lessen the burden to the taxpayers of Newtown while continuing to provide services to all citizens and an excellent educational experience for all our students.

If elected, how do you plan to contribute toward addressing that issue?

The Legislative Council’s most important function is its annual scrutiny of the town’s budgets. I have always believed that was best done by those who can keep an open mind while listening to all points of view on any given issue regardless of party affiliation.

What is the single most valuable skill or talent you can bring, and how will you apply that talent or skill to best serve the community?

I believe the most valuable skill I can offer to the community is my ability to listen and kindness. Many of the people of Newtown know me on a more personal level because I have served their family — and in many cases multiple generations of families — in my position as funeral director of the Honan Funeral Home. I pledge to continue serving on the Legislative Council in the same dignified, courteous manner that I conduct my business. I will continue to be attentive and responsive to all the people of Newtown — whether you have children in our schools or are a retired senior citizen, whether you have lived in town for years or you’re just finding a new place to call home. I have come to understand that serving on the Legislative Council takes much more than just attending the twice-monthly meetings — it involves working with all members of the council no matter what political party, to build consensus on the many issues Newtown faces today. I look forward to the opportunity to continue to serve Newtown in this manner.

Ryan W. Knapp
Legislative Council, District 2

Address: 11 Jeremiah Road

Phone: 203-232-6394

E-mail: ryan.w.knapp@gmail.com

Website: facebook.com/RyanWKnapp

Party affiliation: Republican

Family: My family has lived in Newtown for over 100 years. My fiancé and I keep that tradition alive living in Sandy Hook with our three dogs

How long have you lived in Newtown? 31 years

Education: BS in mechanical engineering from Syracuse University, cum laude

Occupation/Employer: Senior Design Engineer, The Macton Corporation, Oxford.

What is the most critical governmental matter facing Newtown today?

For months I, along with other local leaders and our state delegation, have been advocating against the governor’s proposed budget due to the detrimental impact it would have on Newtown and our schools. This draconian plan for millions in cuts shifts the state’s problems onto local property tax payers and will result in tax increases or reductions in services if not managed.

If elected, how do you plan to contribute toward addressing that issue?

We incumbent Republicans have already started addressing this crisis by simultaneously supporting our delegation in advocating for Newtown in Hartford while also planning and preparing should Malloy follow through on his threats by way of our local budget process. Due to our foresight and planning in the spring, when the October revenue did not come due to Malloy’s Executive Order, Newtown was much better positioned than other communities. We need to build on this good work and view all our future decisions in the broader context of our challenges, finding efficiencies and growing our tax base to ease the burden.

What is the single most valuable skill or talent you bring, and how will you apply that talent or skill to best serve the community?

I believe on the council I can offer insights that come with perspective, experience, and objectivity. I pride myself on the ability to see the bigger picture and maintain context of how every choice has repercussions, how the town and state are interconnected, and how our actions in one area put pressures on others. Newtown tax payers and our schools can not afford leaders who make decisions in silos.

Chris Smith
Legislative Council, District 3

Address: 22 Wills Road

Phone: 646-739-1738

E-mail: ctsmith@tsibinc.com

Party affiliation: Democratic

Family: Married to Heather Smith. Daughters Riley (18) and Taegan (14). Both girls attended Mr Turtle School and Trinity Day Pre-School, Middle Gate Elementary, then Reed and the middle schools and then finally the high school. We have two golden retrievers.

Lived in Newtown: Since 2001.

Education: Born in Georgia, but grew up in Marshfield, Mass. I graduated from the University of Massachusetts in 1990 with a degree in marketing.

Occupation/Employer: I am the Vice President and Managing Director for Turner Surety and Insurance Brokerage. I have spent the last 27 years in the insurance industry. The first ten years as an underwriter at Liberty Mutual, the next ten as a risk manager for Turner Construction Company and the last seven as an insurance broker representing some of the largest construction companies and construction projects in the country.

What is the most critical governmental matter facing Newtown today?

By far the biggest issue facing our town is the Connecticut state budget deficit and how it will influence the funds available for our town. Since we are not yet sure of the total reductions to our budget, we are not yet in a position to take any firm positions. Because of this, the town will need a Legislative Council that can weigh all of the issues appropriately and work cooperatively to make the best decisions that will help keep our town moving forward. I love our town’s school system. I love our open space. We have so much to offer and so much that we can look to build. I want to help put us in a position that helps alleviate taxes while still keeping our priorities. I have spent years attending Legislative Council meetings and have seen that a most effective group is one that is active, transparent, and helps maintain the big picture and the goals for the town in mind. It is not easy, but it requires active involvement and a willingness to raise questions and challenge normalcy.

If elected, how do you plan to contribute toward addressing that issue?

I look forward to working cooperatively with each Legislative Council member and help the town maintain its priorities while still looking to lower our overall mill rate. I want to make sure we understand the Big Picture and make sure whatever difficult decisions we need to make are still consistent with strategic growth. I also want to make sure I continue to communicate with people and will look forward to getting feedback and concerns from folks and listening to all suggestions. Lastly, I think the town needs people who are passionate about contributing and wanting to be a part of moving our town forward. I like volunteering. I enjoy being a part of town committees, like the Conservation Commission and helping move conversations forward. As a Legislative Council member I will bring that passion to our town meetings.

What is the single most valuable skill or talent you bring, and how will you apply that talent or skill to best serve the community?

Being passionate and loving our town, but still level-headed and willing to work within a team framework is my strongest asset. My years in the risk management and insurance industry has allowed me to build a skill set around analysis of issues and risks, while still managing within a strict budget and financial framework. As an underwriter I learned to analyze risk and help make assessments that were not always apparent. As a risk manager I had to take those risks but then manage within very specific budgets and often with limited finances. Now as a broker for construction clients, I have to be able to communicate this risk assessment and evaluation in a way that is acceptable and appropriate for each client’s needs and overall company goals. I look forward to bringing these skills to the town and helping us move forward strategically.

Rance Thompson
Legislative Council, District 3

Address: 87 Brushy Hill Road

Phone: 203-515-2097

E-mail: rance.thompson@gmail.com

Party affiliation: Republican

Family: I live with my girlfriend Amy Martocci, my daughters Caitlin (16) and Lauren (11), and Amy’s son Vinny (4)

Lived in Newtown for: 27 years

Education: Sonoma Valley High School, Sonoma, Calif.; Western Connecticut State University

Occupation/Employer: Owner of Cleancut Lawn & Landscape LLC

What is the most critical governmental matter facing Newtown today?

Right now our town is facing the potential loss of state aid to our schools. This could cost Newtown $4.89 million that will either be pushed on to the taxpayers in higher property taxes or a loss in services.

If elected, how do you plan to contribute toward addressing that issue?

Dealing with the state budget crisis and the effects it will have on Newtown will take a combination of fiscal discipline, efforts to grow the towns grand list, and finding ways to reduce the towns debt. I will help find inefficiencies and look for creative ways to solve these problems.

What is the single most valuable skill or talent you bring, and how will you apply that talent or skill to best serve the community?

As the owner of a business in Newtown for the past 27 years I am constantly having to make tough financial decisions based on the changing economy and needs of my clients. I plan on using these same decisionmaking skills to help our town cut costs where we can without sacrificing services to our residents.

Kelley T. Johnson
Legislative Council, District 3

Address: 16 Chestnut Hill Road, Sandy Hook

Phone: 203-491-0484

E-mail: kelleytjohnson@gmail.com

Website: facebook.com/KelleyTJohnsonForNewtownLCD3

Party affiliation: Democrat

Family: I live with my 91-year-old father and our cat named Caper (aka #1).

Lived in Newtown for: 1967-1985, 2013-present; 22 years total.

Education: MBA, Washington University in St Louis; MS in electrical engineering, Johns Hopkins University; BS in computer science engineering, University of Texas at Arlington; Newtown High School, Class of 1985

Occupation/Employer: Founder and president of Doors to Explore Inc.

What is the most critical governmental matter facing Newtown today?

I view the most critical matter as the relationship between the town leadership who prepares the townwide budget and the taxpayers who are asked to support it. We can come together when information is shared transparently and in a timely manner. Not every budget item impacts every taxpayer, but our collective strength to support one another is what makes Newtown special. Our local government must strive to serve all its citizens.

If elected, how do you plan to contribute toward addressing that issue?

As I’ve done on the Board of Finance for the past two years, I will continue to advocate for more strategic and financial analysis around our decisionmaking. Elected officials should rigorously debate from a common set of facts, with all opinions heard, to achieve the best possible outcomes.

What is the single most valuable skill or talent you bring, and how will you apply that talent or skill to best serve the community?

I have a broad background that spans both business and technology. As an engineer, I’ve been immersed in complex tasks for decades. Plenty of people speak about improving governmental efficiencies, but I’d rather move the discussion toward disruptive innovation. How do we establish ourselves as thought leaders (and implementers) in local government? How do we leverage technology to leap ahead of our regional competition? Perhaps we utilize more sustainable energy resources and replace inefficient boilers for fuel savings, or transition from on-premises computer hardware to (usually) more-affordable cloud servers, or use a web-based system for citizen reporting of nonemergency issues such as potholes or street light outages. In fact, these solutions are already implemented in Newtown and will continue to reap benefits for taxpayers. What’s next?

Dennis Kokenos
Legislative Council, District 3

Address: 21 Platts Hill Road

Phone: 203-913-4685

E-mail: dkokenos@hotmail.com

Website: facebook.com/kokenosforcouncil

Family: I live with my wife Stephanie, daughter Asemina Maria, and two sons, James and Alexander. Also members of our family include our horse Andre, dog Frazier, and two cats, Troy and Lucy.

Party affiliation: Republican

How long have you lived in Newtown? four years

Education: I attended High School at Fairfield Prep and obtained my BS in finance from the University of Connecticut in 2002. I then obtained my law degree from UMass-Dartmouth in 2005.

Occupation/Employer: Attorney/Partner at the Law Offices of Owens, Schine & Nicola, PC.

What is the most critical governmental matter facing Newtown today?

We are facing state cuts to our budget in excess of 4.89 million. The upcoming years are critical for our town given the state’s fiscal crisis. We must become self-sufficient and plan for our own future on our own terms.

If elected, how do you plan to contribute toward addressing that issue?

We must combat the state’s removal of funding while assuring we don’t compromise the services to our children and seniors, the aesthetics of our town, farm land, and open space. I plan on working to increase our commercial grand list through business incentives, working with all officials to identify cost-savings measures and assuring that Newtown does not become economically stagnant. I plan on working to find the proper balance between good schools, senior tax relief, and commercial growth to assure an affordable, stable and predictable tax rate.

What is the single most valuable skill or talent you bring, and how will you apply that talent or skill to best serve the community?

Throughout my career as a practicing municipal attorney I have encountered and helped solve countless problems facing towns. I will be able to quickly identify what options are available to Newtown, help implement plans to accomplish our goals and strongly advocate for what is best for our town. I have experience in working through problems with all boards and commissions within a town government. I understand the powers vested within a municipality to fix its own problems and I also understand when we need to approach our state government for positive change which will benefit Newtown. I want to add new ideas and creative thinking to help us maintain a stable tax rate while not compromising our schools and seniors. We cannot allow the current fiscal position of our state to dictate how we run our town.

Robert Pickard
Legislative Council, District 3

Address: 81 Cedar Hill Road

Phone: 203-304-8234

E-mail: rpickard@lockton.com

Party affiliation: Democrat

Family: I live with my wife, Lauren, our two children, Nathan, age 8, and Ellie, age 5, as well as our dog, Cooper, age 1.

How long have you lived in Newtown? 3½ years

Education: I attended Division Avenue High School in Levittown, N.Y., and St John’s University in Queens, N.Y., where I earned a BA in English literature.

Occupation/Employer: For the last 25 years I have been a commercial insurance broker, the last five of which I have been with Lockton Companies in Farmington.

What is the most critical governmental matter facing Newtown today?

The most critical matter we face here in Newtown is the need to improve communication. Residents who identify with both sides of the aisle really want to be engaged in the mechanics of this beautiful and vibrant town and they want to contribute. However, not everyone knows how to get involved. There hasn’t been a great concern for genuine, effective communication with our citizens. Newtown’s leaders must tell the people they have a voice and that voice needs to be heard. In this day and age there is no excuse for lack of communication from government at any level. If we don’t reach out to our citizens, get their feedback and make the necessary adjustments, then shame on us. We all carry the greatest communication devices the world has ever known right in our pockets every day. Let’s get the people the information they need to become engaged in the process.

If elected, how do you plan to contribute toward addressing that issue?

I am involved with Newtown’s wonderful youth sports programs. My children are involved in many activities around town, and I coach several of them, including lacrosse, basketball and soccer. Because I am engaged, I am in the fortunate position of personally interacting with literally hundreds of Newtowners every week. Although I am certain they don’t want to talk politics every time they see me, I am able to listen to them talk about what concerns them. Whether it’s property taxes, school budgets, bus routes, or even what new businesses are opening up. Until now, I have listened to them share their hopes and concerns for Newtown as a friend. Hopefully, on November 7, I will become a member of Newtown’s Legislative Council, which will allow me to take those conversations to officials of both parties, to make sure everyone I come into contact with has a voice.

What is the single most valuable skill or talent you bring, and how will you apply that talent or skill to best serve the community?

As a commercial insurance broker for 25 years, all of which I have spent working on complex/catastrophic insurance situations, I work daily in a cauldron of stress, both financial and emotional. Over the years I have achieved success in a competitive industry by developing the ability to work in stressful environments, focusing on priorities. My clients trust me to navigate the global insurance markets with a combination of aggression and nuance. I fight for them every day to make sure their insurance carriers are providing the contractually agreed-upon coverages, whether it is for a natural disaster or a personal injury. I will fight for Newtown’s governmental priorities with the same nuanced aggression. I get results because I fight the battles, both big and small.

Philip Carroll
Legislative Council, District 3

Address: 1 Fieldstone Drive

Phone: 203-426-2421

E-mail: ppcarroll13@gmail.com

Website: facebook-Philip Carroll Legislative Council

Party affiliation: Republican

Family: My wonderful wife Robin, who keeps me focused. My daughter Rachel is a teacher in Texas. She and her husband, James, have four wonderful children, Carley, Ryleigh, Jesse, and Benjamin, that make everything we do worthwhile. They all also do volunteer work as rescue helpers trying to find forever homes for abandoned animals.

How long have you lived in Newtown? I grew up in Newtown and attended Sandy Hook and Middle Gate elementary schools, as well as Newtown Middle School and Newtown High School

Education: School of Hard Knocks.

Occupation/Employer: Presently State of Connecticut, Department of Motor Vehicles, former Newtown school bus owner/operator/certified school bus trainer.

What is the most critical governmental matter facing Newtown today?

Our budget. The State of Connecticut Democratic controlled majority in Hartford, punishing Newtown and many other communities by withholding educational funding, and other funding from our community due to Newtown’s responsible fiscal management and Hartford’s mismanagement. These are the tax dollars Newtown residents sent to Hartford. For many years, Newtown’s leadership has been working on reducing our debt and bonding, resulting in the rating agencies increasing our credit rating, saving millions in the cost to borrow.

If elected, how do you plan to contribute toward addressing that issue?

To continue to vote with the Republican majority on Newtown’s Legislative Council as we did this past year to cut or postpone spending where applicable to mitigate a huge tax increase on Newtown residents due to the states promise of cutting funding.

What is the single most valuable skill or talent you can offer to the community, and how will you apply that talent or skill to best serve the community?

I try to put forward the most common sense approach to different issues and listen to other points of view. I may not personally agree with some views , but vote on what I believe would be best for my town as a whole.

Keith Alexander
Board of Finance

Address: 8 Fawnwood Road

Phone: 203 794 6498

E-mail: alexanderk.bof@gmail.com

Website: /newtownctdemocrats.org/candidates-2017/board-of-finance/keith-alexander/

Party affiliation: unaffiliated (recent change)

Family: Married to Elizabeth, father to Claire and Scott (Newtown graduates)

How long have you lived in Newtown? 21 years

Education: New Milford Public Schools; Penn State University, BS general science, mathematics

Occupation/Employer: Software engineering consultant (Pitney Bowes)

What is the most critical governmental matter facing Newtown today?

The state budget issues now dominate Newtown’s landscape because of the still unknown impact to funding this fiscal year. Fiscal planning has always been a focus of attention in Newtown and that management depends on having information at critical points throughout the year. Once decisions have been made at the state level, Newtown will be able to move forward with sound decisions.

If elected, how do you plan to contribute toward addressing that issue?

As a member of the Board of Finance, I will work toward policies that buffer Newtown from future uncertainty related to state driven revenues and mandates. Newtown’s Capital Improvement Plans and debt policy should continue to be reviewed as we work to ensure long-term stability of our finances.

What is the single most valuable skill or talent you bring, and how will you apply that talent or skill to best serve the community?

I think I bring thoughtful consideration to decisionmaking to every situation. My goal is to try to get the best information for the entire group to consider before choosing a course of action. Having the right data and time to digest it allows people to overcome preconceived notions and focus on long term results.

Mark Boland
Board of Finance

Address: 66 Taunton Hill Road

Phone: 203-470-5639

E-mail: markbolandbof@gmail.com

Party affiliation: Republican

Family: Wife – Carol; Mark Jr, married to Becky McCullough; Matthew married to Becky McKinney; Sam: senior at the Pennsylvania State University

How long have you lived in Newtown? Since 1994

Education: BS in finance from the Pennsylvania State University

Occupation/Employer: President of Merit Specialty, a division of Hanover Insurance

What is the most crucial government matter facing Newtown today?

Newtown has begun to grow its commercial tax base. We are approaching the point where homeowners will benefit from having commercial properties share an increasing percentage of the property tax burden. However, the State of Connecticut is reducing aid to Newtown and that will reverse our progress. Our greatest challenge remains improving the affordability of Newtown while maintaining the quality of life and education.

How will I contribute toward addressing that issue?

I will scrutinize the budgets of the Board of Selectman and the Board of Education and verify that our tax dollars are well spent. I will challenge the capital expenditures detailed in the Capital Improvement Plan, questioning their necessity and priority. I will strive to maintain our AAA bond rating and support efforts of the Economic Development Commission to grow the commercial tax base.

Single most valuable skill and how will you apply it to serve the community?

For more than 20 years, I have grown profitable businesses. Over that period, I have become proficient at resolving complex financial and personnel challenges while consistently achieving profitability targets. I will utilize my experience to safeguard the finances of Newtown with impartiality and transparency.

Steve Hinden
Board of Finance

Address: 25 Horseshoe Ridge Road

Phone: 917-921-8136

E-mail: steve.hinden@gmail.com

Website: facebook.com/SteveHindenBoardofFinance

Party affiliation: unaffiliated

Family: My wife is Barbara Wojcik, and we have a son, Jacob, who is a freshman in Newtown High School.

How long have you lived in Newtown? 13 years

Education: I graduated from Long Island City High School in Queens, N.Y., received a BS in economics from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania and a JD from Fordham University School of Law. I am also a member of the New York Bar (in retired status).

Occupation/Employer: I am a director in the talent and rewards consulting practice at Willis Towers Watson, focusing on executive compensation. I have advised a variety of companies and their boards, across several industries, in structuring executive pay, incentives, and related compliance and regulatory responsibilities.

Previously, I worked for IBM and American Express in a similar capacity, and before that I was a lawyer at Paul Weiss and at Skadden Arps in New York City.

What is the most critical governmental matter facing Newtown today?

Our town budget this year has been left in limbo by the state budget dynamics, and this is an issue that is expected to continue to present even greater challenges in the foreseeable future. As a result, Newtown must squarely face the prospect of weaning itself off of current levels of state support. This will require a greater emphasis on prioritizing spending between what is “nice to have” and what we “have to have.” Unfortunately, politics and party affiliation have gotten in the way of common sense, governing well and responsiveness to the people affected by our government’s decisions.

If elected, how do you plan to contribute toward addressing that issue?

I will help solve budget issues with an eye on the “outcome to be desired,” and not a “contest to be won.” I will not allow education to be used as a leverage chip — I believe there are reasons to support strong schools that go beyond what affects us personally: it is the right thing to do, and educational opportunity for the next generation is our most important legacy. I will also place a stronger focus on (1) business development to improve our tax base, to relieve the pressure of higher taxes for our residents, (2) strategic planning that imposes the discipline and transparency that only comes with thoughtful modeling of true cost and return on investment over time, and (3) recognizing that many residents have limited ability to pay more in taxes, and that any solution must plan for a reasonable, means-based approach to tax relief.

What is the single most valuable skill or talent you bring, and how will you apply that talent or skill to best serve the community?

Throughout my career over 30 years, I have helped to solve challenging business issues that require both an understanding of multiple disciplines (including finance, accounting, talent management, and strategic planning) and building consensus across multiple stakeholders. Consensus building is accomplished through careful listening, and finding alternatives that can best fit sometimes competing objectives. I will use my experience to support the Board of Finance mission to reconcile the difficult trade-offs Newtown will be facing going forward, and help to identify the best possible alternatives for our town.

Sandy Roussas
Board of Finance

Address: 38 Maltbie Road

Phone: 203-364-1939

E-mail: sandyroussasBOF@gmail.com

Website: facebook.com/roussasforBOF/

Party affiliation: Republican

Family: Nick Roussas, currently serving on Newtown’s Economic Development Commission; two children, Eleni and Petros: and, our beagle named Daisy.

Lived in Newtown for: 14 years

Education: Attended Pace University for undergrad (graduated in 2003); attended Quinnipiac University School of Law (graduated in 2006)

Occupation/Employer: Litigation attorney/Neubert, Pepe & Monteith in New Haven

What is the most critical governmental matter facing Newtown today?

The persistence by the Democratic leadership in Hartford to hike taxes and fees on our beleaguered taxpayers presents our biggest challenge. For years in Newtown, we’ve been making prudent financial decisions that have led to an increase in our credit rating and fund balance. As a result, we currently enjoy a level of fiscal health to which other municipalities could only aspire. However, the governor’s decimation of our municipal funding jeopardizes that fiscal health. Newtown is going to face hard choices in the coming years. Together, we must continue to prioritize our spending, reduce our borrowing, and preserve our most precious asset—a quality educational system — so we can control property taxes. With respectful collaboration, I believe that Newtown will rise to the coming challenges and thrive in spite of them.

If elected, how do you plan to contribute toward addressing that issue?

The best way to meet the coming challenges is through communication. The old saying “two heads is better than one” comes to mind. We should improve collaboration with our town boards during joint public meetings. During my tenure on the Board of Finance, we have participated in two such meetings with the Legislative Council and Board of Education right before budget season kicks off. While this is a great start, my feeling is that an increase in frequency of these meetings will not only provide greater transparency, but will provide a real opportunity for different viewpoints to engage on any particular topic. Also important, we should continue to engage in respectful dialogue with residents and to continually listen to their concerns, both during and outside of our official board meetings. That way, we can use that feedback to prioritize expenditures, especially now that we are in CIP season.

What is the single most valuable skill or talent you bring, and how will you apply that talent or skill to best serve the community?

The most valuable skill I can offer is my ability to see both the forest and the trees. What I’ve learned in the last two years is that you need to be able to dig into the details of an issue to understand its larger impact on the town’s overall financial picture. During budget review season, I review every line item (though the Board of Finance does not have line item authority of the BOE budget), but I also think about the budget as a whole and how it advances the town. This analysis extends to all matters brought before the BOF like the Capital Improvement Plan, senior tax relief, and economic development tax incentives. No one decision should be made in a vacuum and my ability to zoom in and out is a skill that has served me well.

Jim Gaston
Board of Finance

Address: 18 Main Street

Phone: 203-426-2500

E-mail: okjt@aol.com

Website: newtownctdemocrats.org

Party affiliation: Democrat

Family: Wife: Stephanie (former Newtown Scholarship president and Award’s chairperson; Children — Tara, 29 years old (multiple high school and college soccer awards; second year residency orthopedic surgery); Jimmy Gaston, 27 years old (3X All-American Swimmer; volunteer firefighter Hook & Ladder and officer; works in NYC in finance); Kelley Gaston, 23 years old (college athlete, marketing for large NYC law firm; Owen, 21 years old, NHS lacrosse (culinary skills). Children attended Newtown public schools. Two Siberian Huskies, Stoli and Siku (10 years old.)

Lived in Newtown: Since 1991: 26 years

Education: High school, Fairfield College Preparatory School (Fairfield Prep); College: Lehigh University (double major, finance and economics; (emphasis in public finance); minor, government; law school: JD, Duquesne University of the School of Law, Pittsburgh.
Occupation/Employer: Attorney; Law Offices of James O. Gaston, 33 Church Hill Road Newtown; 239 Golden Hill Street Bridgeport.

What is the most critical governmental matter facing Newtown today?

Taxes, education, development, and seniors (TEDS). These issues are critical. They all matter and they are intricately related. Taxes must be controlled, particularly as to state financial pressures. Regionalization, shared services and economies of scale are critical. Education is one of the key elements that drive the demand to move to Newtown, and makes our children ready to participate competitively in the world. Without competitiveness in science, mathematics, and research and development our economic prosperity and national security is jeopardized. Education enhances our cultural arts and creates educated voters, the engine of our Democracy. Development must be smart, preserving our historic heritage and rural imprint, but encouraging commercial presence to alleviate the tax burden on residential taxpayers is key. Seniors deserve activities, services, needs-based tax relief and reasonable property tax appraisals that can be graduated, if requested.

If elected, how do you plan to contribute toward addressing that issue?

The town and education budgets come directly to the Board of Finance. I will use my experience and education to address the issue of taxes. I suggest implementation of shared financial economies of scale. Examples: a single purchasing agent for the town and schools (already studied and recommended with potential million dollar taxpayer savings); another long-term potential million dollar savings regarding town and fire truck life and maintenance with a regional wash stop (caring for high-tech trucks is sophisticated, not just a hose down). We need to be bold. These are just examples. Education is a given. Students, taxpayers and our nation win with excellence in education. Smart development means marketing with vigilance. Again taxpayers save.
Seniors — as my 97 year-old World War II veteran father says, “We are an investment, not an obligation.” This is my mind-set as well (we also owe our veterans an incredible thank you!)

What is the single most valuable skill or talent you bring, and how will you apply that talent or skill to best serve the community?

My experience, educational skills, and ability to work with others on boards and commissions will work to achieve the above goals and objectives. Having an extensive history of the past helps avoid wasting time, money, and effort on things already tried and failed. Good elected officials not only themselves think outside of the box, but also reach to taxpayers for ideas. There are numerous examples of listening and action: sidewalks throughout the borough, the Town Blight Ordinance, and the Borough Historic District are just some examples. Leadership means always listening.
Board of Finance: (2001-11) (vice chairperson).
Board of Selectmen (2011-15)
Board of Finance (2015-17) (chairperson/vice chairperson)
Family Counseling Services, Board member and vice chairperson
Board of Burgesses, Borough of Newtown 1994-2006.
Warden, Borough of Newtown 2006-present
Board of Governors, Connecticut Bar Association 1995 to present
Board of Governors, Connecticut Trial Lawyers Association 2006-present

Robert Licata
Board of Finance

Address: 34 Charter Ridge Drive, Sandy Hook

Phone: 203-964.779

E-mail: robertblicata@gmail.com

Party affiliation: Republican

Family: Diane and I have two children, Kaelyn who is 12 and Aidan who is nearly 11. We have two dogs, Boomer and Mia.

Lived in Newtown for: 15 years

Education: Monroe-Woodbury (N.Y.) High School, Sacred Heart University

Occupation/Employer: Director of foundational services, Prudential Annuities

What is the most critical governmental matter facing Newtown today?

Considering the state’s financial pressures, it is more important than ever to improve the financial strength of our town through common sense and practical approaches to sustainable commercial and residential development, preservation of our environment, and a commitment to every resident to maintain excellence across all levels of our educational systems. We must also continue the great work already done to reduce our reliance on bonding and our debt service, increase our grand list through business development and drive efficiencies in our shared services wherever practical.

If elected, how do you plan to contribute toward addressing that issue?

I intend to work together with each of the members of the Board of Finance and the various town departments, regardless of political affiliation to achieve positive outcomes for the entire town. The town has done a great job in investing in renewable energy sources, and we should all strive to continue that work through increased usage of solar energy, increasing open space, continued usability improvements in Fairfield Hills, and maintain or enhance the conservation of natural resources while ensuring the protection of Newtown’s natural streams or water supplies.

What is the single most valuable skill or talent you bring, and how will you apply that talent or skill to best serve the community?

I would bring my leadership experience that I have learned through my military and civilian careers and work across diverse groups of teams and functions to collaborate in a nonpartisan manner so that we all achieve the best possible results for all Newtown residents.

Roger Cyr
Board of Finance

Address: 8 Longview Heights Road

Phone: 203-912-3864

E-mail: rogeralancyr@gmail.com

Website: newtownctdemocrats.org/candidates-2017/board-of-finance/roger-cyr

facebook.com/roger.cyr.newtown

Party affiliation: Democrat — Endorsed by the DTC

Family: With my wife Debby we enjoyed raising three wonderful children here and we now share a great deal of time with five beautiful grandchildren ranging in age from 15 years to 5 months. Two grandsons, ages 4 and 6, and I often enjoy Dickinson Park and have recently begun bike rides at Fairfield Hills. Over the years our family has included dogs and cats and chickens, the newest member, Toby, having been rescued from the Hartford Animal Shelter last year.

Lived in Newtown for: 32 years

Education: Brien McMahon High School in Norwalk, ; Norwalk Community College — AS, marketing; Sacred Heart University — BS, accounting; University of Bridgeport — MBA finance

Occupation/Employer: Instructor at Malcolm Baldrige School of Business at Post University since January 2013; Prior: GE Capital Real Estate, senior global manager in compliance.

What is the most critical governmental matter facing Newtown today?

The most critical matter Newtown and other towns face is management of tax revenues and expenses. States and towns across America suffer from revenue contraction and increased costs. If we are to provide for the welfare of the community in every way including education, safety, and a comfortable and pleasant living environment we must make the right financial decisions, and then manage their implementation.

If elected, how do you plan to contribute toward addressing that issue?

I’ve enjoyed tremendous success in managing major projects and the bottom line. I’ve managed a company with revenue exceeding $250 million and a corporate product covering all of North America for a global bank. That requires an understanding of accounting, control, and finance. But perhaps more importantly, it requires a passion for doing what is right for the organization. You have to really like what you do to be a success. My family and I love Newtown and I want to ensure that the wonderful environment that we have been gifted with is financially managed for ongoing enjoyment and sustainability.

What is the single most valuable skill or talent you bring, and how will you apply that talent or skill to best serve the community?

My most valuable skill is a passion for doing what is right. I have hired and managed many people over the years. Just about everyone can learn the basics skills of finance and accounting. But without honesty and integrity their application falls short of what is required for the good of the organization in the long term. Sustainability means making the right decisions for the community to ensure that we can retain and enjoy the wonderful family environment that is Newtown. I will make it clear in the decision making process that we must ensure accountability and sustainability for the good of Newtown residents.

Armel Romeo Kouassi
Board of Finance

Address: 8 Briarwood Lane

Phone: 267-505-7476

E-mail: ArmelForBOF@gmail.com

Website: facebook.com/ArmelForBOF/

Family: Valerie and I moved from Chesterfield, Mo., five years ago; we were looking for a place we can call home. We felt in love of the quaint, beautiful town of Newtown. I am married for 11 years with my high school sweetheart. My three daughters Camille (2), Alexiane (6), and Matiya (9) are benefiting from an amazing school system, they made friends in Newtown and are enjoying the many activities the town has to offer. Alexiane and Matiya perform for NewArts and Matiya is in the Western Connecticut Youth Orchestra. We truly believe Newtown is the place where memories are made. Valerie is a dentist, graduated from the University of Bordeaux, South of France. Valerie supports YoungLives a nonprofit organization helping teen moms in the area, she is a foodie and loves kick boxing. I am passionate of boating, arts, and music and am a member of the Board of the Ridgefield Symphony Orchestra and support Cyrenius H. Booth Library and NewArts in Newtown.

Party affiliation: Republican

Lived in Newtown for: Five years

Education: The Scientific High School, Cote d’Ivoire (tiny French-speaking country, a geography trivia question to The Bee readers might be to locate Cote d’Ivoire on a map); European School of Management ESCP Europe in Paris, France; MBA Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania; certified financial risk manager by the Global Association of Risk Professionals, New York.

Occupation/Employer: Senior banker with 15 years of global financial management experience. Director at State Street Corporation, the second largest custody bank in the world.

What is the most critical governmental matter facing Newtown today?

Maintaining the town financial viability will be my key priority especially considering the financial challenges and fiscal pressure the town could experience due to the budget stalemate at the state level with potential reduction of education cost sharing grants, property tax increases, and cuts to nonprofit organization that serve seniors. Additionally, if the budgetary impasse persists it could lead to downgrades and increases of borrowing cost for Newtown.

If elected, how do you plan to contribute toward addressing that issue?

I plan to support the long-term financial viability of the town through careful and thoughtful spending practice to maintain high-quality services, an A+ rated school system, a healthy fund balance and to seek ways to moderate the tax burden with carefully diversification, prioritization, and innovative ideas. I will also focus on capital expenditure and ensuring the town’s capital assets are being maintained and improved in the most cost-effective manner. The fiscal discipline that resulted in our healthy fund balance has positioned Newtown relative well for the challenges ahead. But the reality is that, it won’t be enough if the state level brinkmanship persists. I commit to collaborate to strengthen Newtown’s financial position especially if the reductions in education funding materializes, we will all have to roll up our sleeves to be innovative and to make some difficult choices. I commit to maintain Newtown as a desirable place to live.

What is the single most valuable skill or talent you bring, and how will you apply that talent or skill to best serve the community?

My extensive experience in management and finance including expertise in managing, planning, and budgeting processes under evolving and adverse scenarios will allow me to help Newtown manage the town’s finances professionally and carefully for the benefit of the residents. I have thoroughly enjoyed attending several Board of Finance meetings to understand firsthand the budgeting and financial issues facing Newtown. My commitment to Newtown residents is to approach my responsibilities with open mind, fact-based to make the best educated decision for the town finance and to manage our finances in a balanced and responsible manner. Despite Connecticut’s ongoing budget stalemate and brinkmanship, I believe that Newtown’s future will remain bright with the right experience and leadership. I will be thrilled to have the opportunity to serve the town of Newtown dear to me and my family. We cherish the beautiful environment, the sense of community and the intergenerational relationship.

Barbara Manville
P&Z Commission

Address: 15 Timber Mill Road

Phone: 203-426-1539

E-mail: bamville123@charter.net

Family: My husband Jim and I raised our two sons Bill and David in Sandy Hook. Bill and David attended Newtown schools from Sandy Hook Elementary through Newtown High School. Bill lives in Virginia and David lives in Colorado. I currently have a chocolate lab mix rescue dog named Brady.

Party affiliation: Democrat

Lived in Newtown for: 21 years

Education: I have a Bachelor of Science degree in accounting from Bryant University and a master’s in business from Sacred Heart University.

Occupation/Employer: I am currently a corporate accountant for Choice Pet.

What is the most critical governmental matter facing Newtown today?

The most critical governmental matter facing Newtown today is how to fund our always outstanding public education system on limited funding from the State of Connecticut. What is our future as a population, if we cannot provide a solid, well rounded public education for our children?

If elected, how do you plan to contribute toward addressing that issue?

When I am elected to Planning and Zoning, I will review and recommend projects that will have a positive impact on our town facilities that support education and the betterment of our children. Additionally, there is a fine balance between keeping the “Nicer in Newtown” image and business development. As a member of Planning and Zoning, I will work hard to become knowledgeable about each project before the commission in order to make well-informed decisions.

What is the single most valuable skill or talent you bring, and how will you apply that talent or skill to best serve the community?

I have an outgoing personality with the ability to work with a wide spectrum of people and personalities. This skill set enables me to work effectively with other commission members and with the members of the community during public hearings.

Frank Corigliano
P&Z Commission

Party affiliation: Republican
(No other information provided)

Don Mitchell
P&Z Commission

Address: 8 Budd Drive, Newtown

Phone #: 203-426-8889

E-mail: d.mitchell@snet.net

Party affiliation: Democratic

Family: I live in Newtown with my wife, Claudia, who retired as a Newtown Middle School art teacher. Our five grown children graduated from Newtown High School and are on their own.

Lived in Newtown for: 43 years

Education: Radnor High School, Radnor, Penn.; BS, economics, Villanova University; JD, Law, University of Denver College of Law
Occupation/Employer: I am a self-employed attorney with a Newtown office.

What is the most critical governmental matter facing Newtown today?

Affordability. While Newtown has done a better job than some communities, there is a renewed urgency in this regard. Our residents and businesses are being squeezed by forces beyond their control. We face the distinct prospect of declining population, declining tax rolls and a decline in local economic opportunities — which some of our neighboring towns are already experiencing. By “affordability,” I don’t mean to imply that it’s only a question of controlling the cost of living in Newtown. It includes making the town more affordable by increasing the economic well-being of our residents and taxpayers with better and higher-paying jobs.

If elected, how do you plan to contribute toward addressing that issue?

The role of planning on that issue is easy to understand. It attempts to predict future trends, both good and bad, and recommend broad policies to take advantage of them or deter them, respectively. Zoning, however, deals with rules restricting the uses of property. It might best help, then, by “getting out of the way” in order to allow development to occur. We can’t do that in a vacuum, however, or at the expense of the way of life that generations of our citizens have built. It must be done in a manner that protects our entire community, both residents and businesses alike. I intend to bring an open and balanced view toward development and economic opportunity for Newtown.

What is the single most valuable skill or talent you bring, and how will you apply that talent or skill to best serve the community?

I can offer my experience as a businessperson in Newtown, my legal training, and experience in conflict resolution and problem solving, and my many years of assisting municipalities in land use matters to the commission and to the town. I plan to continue to apply those skills and talents toward responsibly achieving and managing the inevitable growth of our community, especially now, in light of both internal and external changes that would disrupt Newtown’s progress, while maintaining the flavor and character of our beautiful town.

Margot Snellback
P&Z Alternate

Party affiliation: Democrat

Family: Husband Dean Snellback; children, Leigh Snellback and Harrison Snellback. Both adults now who attended Newtown schools all the way through, graduating from Newtown High School.

Lived in Newtown since: January, 1994

Education: Graduated: high school, Convent of the Sacred Heart, Greenwich; Boston College, BA

Occupation/Education: Research and evaluation specialist, EdAdvance, Litchfield.

Most critical governmental matters facing Newtown today?

Education funding for whole-student development and support, town growth and business opportunities, i.e., attracting new business to support our tax base while maintaining Newtown’s welcoming and picturesque character.

If elected, how do you plan to contribute toward addressing that issue?

As an alternate P&Z member, I intend to always listen with an open mind, while continually building my knowledge of planning and zoning regulations in order to constructively serve the concerns of residents and business interests in Newtown.

What is the single most valuable skill or talent you bring, and how will you apply that talent or skill to best serve the community?

My ability to hear all sides of an issue, and treat individuals with respect and steadfast diplomacy.

Fredrick Taylor
P&Z Alternate

Party affiliation: Republican
(No other information provided)

David Rosen
P&Z Alternate

Party affiliation: Democrat
(No other information provided)

Roy Meadows
P&Z Alternate

Address: 43 Poverty Hollow Road

Phone: 203-426-0430

E-mail: meadowsrg@gmail.com

Party affiliation: Republican

Lived in Newtown for: 28 years

Education: University of Tennessee, BS in chemical engineering; West Virginia University, MS in chemical engineering

Occupation/Employer: Retired engineer from Union Carbide Corp with experience in process design, licensing, and operations management.

What is the most critical governmental matter facing Newtown today?

Providing sensible municipal and social services to our citizens while maintaining reasonable taxes.

If elected, how do you plan to contribute toward addressing that issue?

As a member of Planning and Zoning, I will review developments and projects for compliance with Newtown’s zoning regulations and Plan of Conservation and Development. I will insist that developments are commensurate with the character of our community. I will support amending zoning regulations as required to fulfill this objective.

What is the single most valuable skill or talent you bring, and how will you apply that talent or skill to best serve the community?

My engineering background provides me the analytical tools for an objective opinion of delicate and controversial matters. As a manager of professionals I learned to handle “conflict” and differences of opinion.

Christina Paradis
ZBA Alternate

Address: 85 Riverside Road, Sandy Hook

Phone: 203-426-4927

E-mail: christina.paradis@gmail.com

Party affiliation: Democrat

Family: I have been married to Eric for 23 years. We have two daughters: Simone, 16, is a junior at Newtown High School, and Camille, 13, is an eighth grader at Newtown Middle School.

Lived in Newtown for: 12 years

Education: Shelton High School; BA, English, Penn State; MS, computer science, Southern Connecticut State University.

Occupation/Employer: IT at Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals in Ridgefield.

What is the most critical governmental matter facing Newtown today?

We need to plan in terms of generations rather than the next few years. We need to build consensus so that we are all working together toward the same shared vision. What do we want living in Newtown to be like in 50 or 100 years? The choices we make today will set us on that path.

If elected, how do you plan to contribute toward addressing that issue?

Show up, pay attention, and follow through. The engine that drives local government is the effort of people who live here and volunteer their time to do the work that needs to be done.

What is the single most valuable skill or talent you bring, and how will you apply that talent or skill to best serve the community?

The most valuable skills I can offer are a mix of a technical mindset and communication skills. This combination has helped me to understand complex situations, and build consensus around a plan of action.

Charles Gardner
ZBA Alternate

Address: 47 Walnut Tree Hill Road, Sandy Hook

Phone: 203-533-6254

E-mail: charles.gardner@gmail.com

Party affiliation: Republican

Family: Married to Kathy with sons Charlie (5) and James (3)

Lived in Newtown for: One year

Education: Dartmouth College ‘04, Vanderbilt University Law School ‘09

Occupation/Employer: Attorney in Southbury

What is the most critical governmental matter facing Newtown today?

From the angle of land use and zoning, two of the largest concerns are property taxes and housing affordability.

If elected, how do you plan to contribute toward addressing that issue?

Although Newtown is more than 300 years old, our townwide zoning code only dates back to the 1950s. As a result, the letter of the zoning regulations does not always align with the reality of an owner’s property. If elected to the ZBA, I will aim to give a fair hearing to all claims of hardship, listening to public input while being cognizant of my responsibility to the town and its residents.

What is the single most valuable skill or talent you bring, and how will you apply that talent or skill to best serve the community?

As an attorney with a son in the Newtown school system, I am strongly motivated to put my professional experience to work in service of the community, helping to not only preserve the quality of life that drew my family to this town but to enhance it.

Joseph Bojnowski
ZBA Alternate

Address: 6 North Branch Road

Phone #: 203-426-6575

Family: Spouse Jane; children are Wendy, Perry, Laura, Chad, and John; pet is Maddie, 4.5-pound Yorkie

Party affiliation: Democrat

Lived in Newtown for: 36 years

Education: Clarkson University – BSChe; University of Delaware — MSChe

Occupation/Employer: Self-employed

What is the most critical governmental matter facing Newtown today?

Newtown needs to be cost-effective in the face of state cutbacks.
If elected, how do you plan to contribute toward addressing that issue?
As a ZBA alternate you need to be understanding of the variance request as it applies to the P&Z regulations.

What is the single most valuable skill or talent you bring, and how will you apply that talent or skill to best serve the community?

I have been a ZBA alternate for two years, served as a selectman for ten years and offer this experience.

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