Saturday, May 25, 2024

Candidate Questionnaire–Climate Change

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Candidate’s Questionnaire

This week’s Question: Climate change is seen by many as a significant threat to Stratford. What steps can Stratford make to help mitigate the impact of climate change for our town?

Some candidates chose not to respond at all to the final section of the candidate questionnaire, or responded only to subjects that directly concern the office for which they are running.

The Stratford Crier Editorial Staff

 

Town Council Candidates

Rachel Rusnak
Democrat
Town Council, District 1

Climate change is seen by many as a significant threat to Stratford. What steps can Stratford make to help mitigate the impact of climate change for our town?

I have a few thoughts on how Stratford could move forward in addressing climate change locally. Many of our residents are well aware of the impacts of climate change; they experience flooding in our communities on a regular basis. A comprehensive approach to addressing this should include engaging our residents in a campaign to raise awareness, gathering community feedback, and developing a comprehensive plan to address climate change.

Additionally, engaging with outside experts and developing local expertise of municipal leaders, employees, and decision-makers by presenting climate change science will be essential. Stratford should host forums and interactive workshops in locally relevant contexts, focusing on what our residents already experience and can expect in the future. Stratford should adopt a sequential approach to assess risks and identify vulnerabilities in our community, considering the social, economic, and community-specific needs.

Finally, we must also engage support from State and Federal resources and expertise. These activities will culminate in an inclusive, community, and expert-informed proposal to address climate change and preserve our beautiful coastal town.

Gavin Forrester III
Republican
Town Council, District 2

Climate change is seen by many as a significant threat to Stratford. What steps can Stratford make to help mitigate the impact of climate change for our town?

The best opportunity for the Town to mitigate the impact would be to reduce our carbon footprint. We should promote Solar installation on as many of our public buildings as feasible and replace as many of our Town departments vehicles with electric vehicles. Work with our local business leaders to install more vehicle charging stations and encourage them to “go green” where ever possible.

Chris Green
Democrat
Town Council, District 2

Climate change is seen by many as a significant threat to Stratford. What steps can Stratford take to help mitigate the impact of climate change for our town?

The biggest threat of climate change to Stratford is the rising sea levels and increased flood risk that sustained increases in global temperatures will bring. My response last week on the question of flooding detailed the fact that we do need as a town to do everything we can to ensure our plans are looking forward.

While the price tags for mitigation efforts are steep (though strong partnerships with our state and federal representatives can hopefully help make more of these projects affordable), the cost of being unprepared for an unprecedented but increasingly likely flooding event will be even steeper. In addition to the risks of changing climate and rising sea level, we also need to do what we can to protect the diversity and resiliency of our ecosystems. I have been glad to see and hope to continue to champion efforts to popularize indigenous pollinator garden networks in the town, as well as efforts to control our lighting at night, which not only can reduce the nuisance of light pollution, but also make things easier for migrating birds and other animals.

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Alvin O’Neal
Democrat
Town Council, District 3

Climate change is seen by many as a significant threat to Stratford. What steps can Stratford take to help mitigate the impact of climate change for our town?

Continuing with the necessary steps to protect Roosevelt Forest, to protect our beaches, to invest in renewable energy, to promote sustainable transportation where necessary, and continuing the greenway.

Rafael Irizarry
Republican
Town Council, District 5

Climate change is seen by many as a significant threat to Stratford. What steps can Stratford make to help mitigate the impact of climate change for our town?

We need to everyone working, improve our life.

Phil Young
Democrat
Town Council, District 6

Climate change is seen by many as a significant threat to Stratford. What steps can Stratford make to help mitigate the impact of climate change for our town?

The town of Stratford has done a fairly good job installing solar panels on public buildings, but other options should be looked in to about updating hvac systems as well. We should be looking into options to our single stream recycling, perhaps start a pilot program separating organic materials and sending to an anaerobic digester. Also, looking into making our garbage collection more efficient.

Kaitlyn Shake
Democrat
Town Council, District 7

Climate change is seen by many as a significant threat to Stratford. What steps can Stratford make to help mitigate the impact of climate change for our town?

We need a short-term and long-term strategy for the changing weather patterns. This starts with the town protecting what greenspaces and protected lands we already own, and encouraging the town to play their part in protecting the environment. I have done this as Chairwoman on the Longbrook Park Commission, and will continue encouraging other leaders to join in protecting our town from an uncertain environmental future.

Jean Marie Sutton
Republican
Town Council, District 7

Climate change is seen by many as a significant threat to Stratford. What steps can Stratford make to help mitigate the impact of climate change for our town?

So much energy is spent in transporting people, but better planning can reduce vehicle travel substantially. Consider the progress we have made with the Clean Streets and Greenway expansion, making our town bicycle and pedestrian family, from North to the South. We recently added parking to our Metro North commuter lot, encouraging rail travel. Many cities now offer free parking for electric vehicles and strategically place them in locations to support local businesses. But transportation is only one way to combat global warming. We need to continue to work hard improving water quality and habitats along the Housatonic River and the Long Island Sound. We can help reduce our carbon footprint by replanting trees, expanding and supporting our very own Roosevelt Forest, and preserving our sensitive ecosystem.

Carl Glad
Republican
Town Council, District 8

Climate change is seen by many as a significant threat to Stratford. What steps can Stratford make to help mitigate the impact of climate change for our town?

The Plan of Conservation and Development (POCD) includes considerable recommendations to ensure our town builds “Climate Resiliency.” Given our unique geography the POCD considers several potential impacts of climate change including flooding and extreme heat. The POCD recommends several actions including flood mitigation and protection, expanded tree canopies, and continued studies to better prepare our town. Implementing innovative and proactive resiliency plans will protect our community for generations to come. In addition, it is important that we protect and utilize our existing natural resources. Future development should consider flood mitigation and green building techniques and technologies. We also need to protect our existing green spaces and make thoughtful decisions about the location and size of green spaces to flood mitigation and maximize biodiversity. Our town has beautiful natural resources; as a community we can use them to encourage responsible development from Forest to Shore.

Note: Candidates running for Town Council that did not respond were: Bryan O’Connor, Republican, District 1;  Rene Gibson, Democrat, District 4;  Ed Scinto, Republican, District 4; Joe Bertone, Republican, District 3;  Kerry Whitham, Republican, District 6;  Alan Llewelyn, Republican, District 9;  Mark Juliano, Democrat, District 9;  Paul Aurelia, Republican, District 10; and Kathleen Callahan, Democrat, District 10.

Land Planning Candidates

Paula Sweeley
Democrat
Zoning, Zone 1

Climate change is seen by many as a significant threat to Stratford. What steps can Stratford make to help mitigate the impact of climate change for our town?

Climate change is a worldwide issue, as we all know. Every citizen and every community needs to support the natural environment by protecting wooded areas, encouraging such positive activities as pollinator gardens, re–cycling, conservation of fuel use and conversion to solar and other non-fossil fuel sources. As individuals and communities, we need to make big changes in the way we live if life on our planet is to continue.

Joe Gerics
Democrat
Planning Commission, District l

Climate change is seen by many as a significant threat to Stratford. What steps can Stratford make to help mitigate the impact of climate change for our town?

Controversy surrounds the notion of climate change in some circles, yet it is hard to deny that sea level is rising and that extreme weather is becoming more common. Some might argue that climate change is a global issue to be addressed at the national level. They are right, but municipalities can also act.

Stratford began to address the issue in 2016 with its Coastal Resilience Plan. The town should implement the CRP’s recommendations to protect not only essential infrastructure like the sewage treatment plant, but also high-risk areas such as the businesses district along Lordship Boulevard, as well as neighborhoods like the South End, which already suffers flooding, and Lordship, which was hit hard by Superstorm Sandy.

The town can also take steps to help reduce our collective carbon footprint. Town facilities, including schools, should be energy audited to determine what cost-effective measures (lighting, insulation, and solar panels) can be taken to reduce reliance on fossil fuels. In addition, the town should publicize and promote existing state and federal programs—rebates, low-cost loans, tax credits and deductions—for renewable energy and energy efficiency. Currently households and businesses are on their own in researching opportunities for conservation and alternative energy sources.

The town should create a webpage with information about eligibility and links to available programs, and sponsor workshops to increase public awareness and educate those considering renovations or new construction.

Note: Candidates running for Land Planning that did not respond were: Ed Kingston, R Republican, Planning Commission, District 1;  Ed Scinto, Republican, Planning Commission, District II; Maxwell Dulin, Democrat, Planning Commission, District II;  Rich Fredette, Republican, Zoning Commission, District I; Linda Manos, Democrat, Zoning Commission, District I; Caz Mizera, Republican, Zoning Commission, District II; Elwald Joseph, Democrat, Zoning Commission, District II; Michael Carroll, Republican, Zoning Board of Appeals, District V;  Karen Tracy, Democrat, Zoning Board of Appeals, District V;  and Shawn Kelemen, Republican, Zoning Board of Appeals, District 1 to fill a vacancy for 2 years.

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