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Election Day Choices Color The Future

Published: November 3, 2016

The Newtown Bee
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There should remain no indecision in the minds of voters when they step into the voting booths on Tuesday, November 8, to elect the next President of the United States.

Denigrating people for race, religion, and sex is contrary to leadership at any level. Evasiveness, dishonesty, and inconsistency are troublesome characteristics for a leader. A mean-spirited, immature, and narcissistic personality, and ignorance of government processes is hardly the kind of person able to head one of the world’s greatest powers.

The president of our country must have dignity, discipline, and diplomacy; be knowledgable; intelligent; experienced; supportive; mature; responsible; considerate; transparent; thoughtful; and articulate. The President of the United States must be globally aware and sensitive to other nations.

The country deserves a president with the skills to move America into the future, safely and wisely. Weighing the balance of desirable and undesirable characteristics should make choosing a candidate who can do so a simple task on Election Day.

It may be harder on the local level to make choices, as the candidates presenting themselves to Newtown voters for state representatives and state senator for the 28th District are all credible, intelligent, and bring an array of experience to voters; recommending one over another as the better choice for our town takes consideration.

106th District
Mitch Bolinsky is seeking his third term as state representative for Newtown’s largest district, that of the 106th. As the current 106th representative, Mr Bolinsky, a Republican, is ranking member of the legislature’s Aging Committee, and has served on the Appropriations and Education Committees. He was recognized by the Newtown Board of Education for his part in recovering special education funding to Newtown in 2016. He actively supports veterans, senior citizens, and champions fiscal responsibility at the state level. He has worked with both Republicans and Democrats to bring ideas to the forefront and get bills passed.

Challenging incumbent Bolinsky is Eva B. Zimmerman. The Democratic candidate has served on the Legislative Council in Newtown, and is sensitive to the challenges senior citizens face. She was recognized as Latina Citizen of the Year for assisting state residents seeking insurance through the Access Health Market Place, and is an active volunteer in various local organizations. Her previous experience as a 1199 Representative working on labor negotiations gives her experience at the state level. Her views on the value of reaching across the aisle politically could make her an approachable figure at the state level.

Mr Bolinsky and Ms Zimmerman share a love of their hometown and dedication to pursuing issues that affect Newtown.

Ms Zimmerman does present as a viable and enthusiastic candidate, but one whom we believe may prove a stronger candidate in future elections. Mr Bolinsky’s experience as a statesman could continue to generate positive actions that benefit Newtown residents. Despite his strong alliance to the Republican party, he has worked cooperatively with Democratic colleagues. It is with the hope that Mr Bolinsky remains true to his own good character, and that of constituents in the large district of Newtown that he would represent, that The Newtown Bee endorses him for state representative for the 106th District.

Second District
Less familiar to Newtown residents are the candidates vying to fill the position vacated by Representative Dan Carter. Will Duff, Republican, and Raghib Allie-Brennan, Democrat, are both Bethel residents hoping to represent that portion of western Newtown that is part of the Second District.

Mr Allie-Brennan brings experience advocating for environmental and energy issues, was elected out of college to the Bethel Democratic Town Committee, and has served on the Inland Wetlands Commission in Bethel. The youthful candidate will focus his attention on economic development, reinvesting in transportation infrastructure, renewable energy, the opioid crisis, and making education a priority if given the chance to represent citizens of Bethel, Redding, Danbury, and Newtown.

He acknowledges the value there will be in listening and learning as a first-term state representative, in order to bring his ideas to fruition.

Mr Duff has served in both municipal and education leadership positions, has background in law enforcement, and extensive business knowledge in high tech and his family business in Bethel. He has stressed plans to pursue a better support system for those with mental health issues if elected as state representative for the Second District. His diverse life experience make him a well-rounded candidate.

Mr Allie-Brennan’s youth gives him ample opportunity for additional involvement at the state and local levels, and upcoming election years may bring him back into voters’ views with more experience essential to representing the district encompassing a portion of Newtown. In this situation, we feel that Mr Duff has the experience necessary for these times. For state representative, Second District, The Newtown Bee endorses William Duff.

State Senator, 28th District

Both Republican Senator Tony Hwang, and his challenger, Philip Dwyer, Democrat, bring qualities to the table that can be utilized for positive change.

Rising above challenges encountered in their early lives, they understand the benefits of hard work. They are experienced in business and management, believe in the value of a good education, the importance of economic development, and the creation of jobs.

Sen Hwang is the ranking member on the Housing and Labor and Public Employees committees, and a member of the Commerce and Veterans Affairs Committees. He has offered solutions to support long-term growth for businesses and create jobs for Connecticut residents through legislation intended to streamline business regulations and to support employment for the disabled.

Mr Dwyer retired as president and CEO of the Central Connecticut Coast YMCA branch in 2010, after a 20-year-career in which he identified and addressed community needs, and managed multimillion-dollar budgets. He has served on school boards in Pennsylvania and New York, and has been chairman of the Fairfield Board of Education since 2012.

Sen Hwang and Mr Dwyer both are devoted to government service and see where improvements can be made to the current government. Their experiences make both men capable of carrying forth the wishes of their constituents to the state level.

It is Sen Hwang who has familiarity with Newtown as the current state senator, a position he has ably filled since elected in 2014. His energy and commitment to issues that are for the betterment of our town and neighboring towns of Easton, Weston, Fairfield, and Westport is commendable, and his willingness to continue to work through bipartisan efforts are compelling reasons to re-elect the senator. The Newtown Bee endorses Senator Tony Hwang for State Senate, District 28.

Judge Of Probate, Northern Fairfield County

With Judge Joseph Egan retiring at the mandated age of 70, the position of Judge of Probate for Northern Fairfield County (Newtown, Bethel, Ridgefield, and Redding) is being sought by Democrat Sharon Wicks Dornfeld, a Ridgefield attorney, and Daniel O’Grady, a Bethel attorney and Republican.

Ms Dornfeld has adjudicated hundreds of cases involving probate business in her 30 years as a lawyer, and is certified in family mediation, collaboration divorce, guardian ad litem, and parenting coordination, all of which have provided her with experience preparing her for the position of Judge of Probate. Among her other accomplishments, she has served at the state level on various family and custodial committees. Her knowledge of probate has served her in training probate judges in guardianship topics. Although the Judge of Probate is only required to be on hand in probate court 20 hours each week, Ms Dornfeld plans to close her private practice office and devote her full attention to serving as Judge of Probate, if elected on November 8.

Mr O’Grady served 20 years as Judge of Probate in Bethel, prior to regionalization, and has filled in at probate courts in Danbury, Newtown, Brookfield, and New Milford over the years. A lawyer for 30 years, Mr O’Grady has extensive experience with probate matters and with hands-on experience as Judge of Probate, is ready to step into the position vacated by Judge Egan with little learning curve. He serves as Bethel’s town counsel and treasurer, has served as a special public defender, and Connecticut state magistrate, among his many accomplishment. If elected as Judge of Probate, Mr O’Grady plans to devote his energies and give precedence to this position as demanded by the Connecticut Probate Judicial Code of Conduct.

The region would be well served by either Mr O’Grady or Ms Dornfeld as Judge of Probate for Northern Fairfield County. Mr O’Grady’s familiarity with this area as former Judge of Probate in Bethel tips the scales in his balance, earning him the endorsement of The Newtown Bee.

Fifth District House of Representatives

Incumbent Elizabeth Esty, a Democrat, is challenged this year by Sherman First Selectman Clay Cope. Mr Cope, Republican, is in his third term as first selectman and chief of police of one of Connecticut’s smallest towns.

Mr Cope advocates many ideas — stepped up border security, replacing the Affordable Care Act, Social Security and immigration reform, expanded background checks for Syrian refugees, and a balanced federal budget — that he believes will strengthen the economy and safety of the average American. He supports a literal interpretation of the Second Amendment, signs every gun permit issued to any Sherman applicant, and believes it is the right of Americans to defend themselves “as they see fit,” according to his campaign website. His website also notes the need for state governments to address the need for effective preventative mental health care services to prevent further 12/14-type tragedies.

Ms Esty has been a staunch supporter of common sense gun laws and has been a reliable ally in addressing issues of importance to Newtown. Elected in November 2012, she serves on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, and the Committee on Science, Space and Technology. Ms Esty also serves as a vice chair of the Congressional Gun Violence Prevention Task Force, and has not only spoken out in support of laws to prevent further gun violence, but has proved herself to be an activist on behalf of the effort to stem deaths from gun violence. She supports bills to promote jobs and economic development, all proof of Ms Esty’s dedication to the constituents she serves. She previously served in the Connecticut General Assembly and Cheshire Town Council.

Her dedication to issues that directly affect our town makes Ms Esty our choice for US House of Representative, Fifth District.

US Senator

Second District State Representative Dan Carter challenges incumbent US Senator Richard Blumenthal this year. Sen Blumenthal has been a powerful voice in gun law reform at the national level. Among his many accomplishments as former Connecticut Attorney General and as US Senator he has focused on holding special interests, such a the tobacco industry, accountable; has voted for paid family leave; worked to raise the minimum wage; and has co-sponsored a bill to protect women’s health. In 2015, President Obama signed into law the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act, introduced by Sen Blumenthal.

As state representative, Mr Carter, a veteran of the US Air Force, has supported legislation to support small businesses and promote job creation. He was a leader in the “Learn Here, Live Here” proposal, according to information at cthousetop.com. Along with Mr Bolinsky, J.P. Sredzinski (R-112), and Senator Hwang, he was recognized by the Newtown Board of Education for work to return special education funding to our district. Mr Carter, as a Newtown representative, voted against the gun control bill banning the sale of military-style weapons, banning the sale of large-capacity ammunition magazine, and expanded background checks for those wishing to buy guns or ammunition, believing the bill to be overreaching.

Mr Blumenthal, we believe, will continue to support legislation that positively affects not only Newtown citizens, but all citizens of the United States. We cast our vote with Senator Richard Blumenthal.

The Town Charter

Not to be ignored is the Town Charter. Newtown voters on November 8 will be asked to weigh in on changes to the charter that Charter Revision Commission members believe will make the charter user friendly. Two questions, whose outcomes are independent of each other, encompass the proposed changes.

The first question asks that the charter be amended to “provide that the maximum number of members for any one political party permitted to serve on the seven (7) member Board of Education shall not exceed four (4)… members from any one political party.” The current charter provides a limitation of five members from any one political party. We encourage the “aye” vote on this change.

The second question is more complex, in that a Yes vote approves all other proposed changes to the charter. The town meeting is eliminated with a Yes vote to question two, and increases authority to the Legislative Council for special or emergency appropriations, up to $1.5 million, with a maximum of 1 mill of the grand list annually. The process of acquisition and disposition of real property by the town is modified with a Yes vote to question two.

Currently, the Legislative Council can make special or emergency appropriations up to $0.5 million; appropriations more than $0.5 million but less than $10 million are voted on at town meetings; and only appropriations larger than that go to referendum.

Town meetings are sparsely attended. The proposed change would bring a vote in front of all registered voters at the annual referendum for any appropriations over $1.5 million. It appears that a Yes vote here would allow a greater voice for these appropriations than was previously allowed.

Hopefully, residents were able to attend one of three public forums hosted by the Charter Commission to answer questions. If not, voters can visit www.newtown-ct.gov/Public_Documents/NewtownCT_BComm/CharterRevision_InformationalPamphletFinal_SingleColumn.pdf to review the informational brochure developed by the commission, before voting next Tuesday. See also the October 21 story in The Newtown Bee, “Charter Revision Promoters Competing For Voters’ Attention,” or go to www.newtownbee.com/charter-revision-promoters-competing-for-voters-attention-2.

Even in the most difficult of election years, voting remains a powerful means of conveying direction to those who lead our towns, states, and nation. Voting booths open at 6 am and are open until 8 pm on Tuesday, November 8. Visit www.newtown-ct.gov/Public_Documents/NewtownCT_Registrar/FindStreet to find your voting location.

Take time to get informed, understand the issues, and realize the value of your vote. Then do it. Vote.

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