Thursday, June 13, 2024

Candidates Town Council Questions

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Candidate’s Questionnaire

This week’s Question:  Town Council has historically been divisive with the Republicans and Democrats not getting along. What are your thoughts on this, and how would you address it?

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

Town Council has historically been divisive with the republicans and democrats not getting along. What are your thoughts on this, and how would you address it?

I reject a divisive model of governing. Everyone elected to Town Council should represent the best interests of Stratford, not a political party. We can disagree on issues, but still come together to make the best decisions for our residents. If elected, I will work with the entire council with respect and civility regardless of party. I bring a history of collaborating successfully with diverse and challenging groups, and believe there’s always an opportunity to find common ground. You can bring strong convictions to an issue, treat others with dignity, and find great solutions.

Gavin Forrester III
Republican
Town Council, District 2

Town Council has historically been divisive with the Republicans and Democrats not getting along. What are your thoughts on this, and how would you address it?

When I was a member of the Town Council Representing District 2 from 2003 – 2009, I worked across party lines in a bi-partisan way and, while in the minority on the council, was able to get funding approved for major projects like the restoration of Longbrook Park, Center flood mitigation, School funding, and improvement to town streets and recreational facilities through the town. If elected, I plan on continuing to work with all members of the Council regardless of party affiliation.

Chris Green
Democrat
Town Council, District 2

Town Council has historically been divisive with the Republicans and Democrats not getting along. What are your thoughts on this, and how would you address it?

I am on Team Stratford. I want the best outcomes for our residents now, and into the future. That will, of course, take working with members of my own party, but it will also take working with the Mayor, Republican Council members, town employees, members of other boards and commissions, and members of the community at large- both those in my district and those beyond, those who voted for me, against me, and those unable to vote. I promise to listen to constituents and my fellow councilors. I will be thoughtful, thorough, and push respectfully and consistently for what I think is right for the town.

Transparency and accountability are useful tools for ensuring collaboration and civility. All meetings of town commissions should be recorded and publicly available.  Public comment should be a part of more town meetings, and it should enable speakers to ask questions and allow officials to answer. The ethics commission should be made a functioning body again. They haven’t met in over a year, and of the five commission spots, one is vacant and two expired five months ago: https://www.stratfordct.gov/content/39832/40029/42572.aspx

The redistricting committee guidelines should also be updated, so that incumbents eligible for re-election cannot be moved out of their district without their consent, as occurred with Councilwoman Kaitlyn Shake. No one party should be able to unilaterally move an otherwise eligible opponent out of the district that twice elected her to serve.

Alvin O’Neal
Democrat
Town Council, District 3

Town Council has historically been divisive with the Republicans and Democrats not getting along. What are your thoughts on this, and how would you address it?

It is my intention once elected, to sit down with my fellow Town Council members to talk about the great opportunity set before us to really make a difference in the town: to find the way to work together for the common good of the town and to do what we need to do to make Stratford #1.

Rafael Irizarry
Republican
Town Council, District 5

Town Council has historically been divisive with the Republicans and Democrats not getting along. What are your thoughts on this, and how would you address it?

Friendships. We must work together. Respect. This is our town.

Anthony Owusu-Afriyie
Democrat
Town Council, District 5

Town Council has historically been divisive with the Republicans and Democrats not getting along. What are your thoughts on this, and how would you address it?

The society I have been born into is not a single machine. It is a complex, interactive ecology in which diversity- biological, personal, cultural, and religious is of the essence. Civil Rights is part of human dignity. Whether it is housing, employment, education any reduction of that diversity through the many forms of fundamentalism results in the diminution of the rich texture of our shared life, and risks disastrously narrowing of the horizons of thought and possibility.

Because we are different, we each have something unique to contribute, and every contribution counts.

Phil Young
Democrat
Town Council, District 6

Town Council has historically been divisive with the Republicans and Democrats not getting along. What are your thoughts on this, and how would you address it?

There are always going to be differences of opinions, but there is usually indifference towards the party who is in the minority. All I can say is that when I was on the Council, I treated everyone with respect and an open mind. I will comport myself in the same fashion should I be elected.

Kaitlyn Shake
Democrat
Town Council, District 7

Town Council has historically been divisive with the republicans and democrats not getting along. What are your thoughts on this, and how would you address it?

I have proven that I can effectively work across the political aisle and get things done for everyone as the Town Council Minority Leader. The practical solution here is to continue the trend of electing leaders who put political differences aside and get the work done for Stratford and all of Stratford.

Jean Marie Sutton
Republican
Town Council, District 7

Town Council has historically been divisive with the Republicans and Democrats not getting along. What are your thoughts on this, and how would you address it?

I will continue to work with both sides of the Council, and ran a friendly Town Council Campaign against my democrat opponent in 2022. I have proven that I am a true team player, both through council as well as volunteerism.

Carl Glad
Republican
Town Council, District 8

Town Council has historically been divisive with the Republicans and Democrats not getting along. What are your thoughts on this, and how would you address it?

As members of the Town Council, we should all have the same goal of putting our community first. However, that does not mean every member of the Council has to agree on the means and methods to do so. In fact, even members of the same party should have their own ideas, opinions, and thoughts.  Each of us will have unique life experiences that drive our thought process. I encourage that. The most effective teams are those that include a diversity of thinkers and attributes. One of the most successful legislative achievements I was involved with saw Republican Lindsay Graham and Democrat Patrick Leahy, two completely political opposite members of the Senate, come together to sponsor a bill and bring members from both of their parties to support it.

As Chair of the Sterling House Board, I actively sought new board members that had different attributes and backgrounds and made sure that their opinions were always voiced. Rather than use disagreements or differences of opinion to perpetuate the politics of division that we see on the national level, I would encourage each member of the Council to advocate for their position and know that together we can give Stratford the best possible outcomes.  We may not always get all or any of we want in a single vote, but our contribution will have heightened the discussion and may influence a later action of the Council. Through a respectful exchange of ideas, we can, and should, put our community first.

Kathleen Callahan
Democrat
Town Council, District 10

Town Council has historically been divisive with the Republicans and Democrats not getting along. What are your thoughts on this, and how would you address it?

I’m running to represent the residents of the 10th District, and Stratford at large, on the Town Council, an elected body that has the power to make, alter and repeal resolutions and ordinances. That is a lot of power, and with less divisiveness and wielded properly, can do much good for our town. This question is timely as the Council will only have one returning member, and it is an opportunity for a reset of priorities. I strongly believe our town will not meet its full potential – will not strive for excellence – without including the voices of all residents. As the representative voices of the people, we must be able to work together and navigate the difficult choices, learning and compromising, as necessary, and uplifting those who have historically been left out of the conversations.

My experience is in building broad, diverse coalitions and working on complex problems. That’s politics, and that’s our Town Council. Ideally, councilors from both parties are open to a frank and candid conversation on how to reset our relationships with each other. If I am elected, I will be open-minded, honest, respectful and responsive to my constituents and other elected officials, and accountable for any mistakes I make.

Candidates running for Stratford Town Council who did not respond to this question were: “Joe” Bertone, Republican, District 3; Ed Scinto, Republican, District 4; Kerry Whitham, Republican, District 6; Alan Llewelyn, Republican, District 9; Paul Aurelia, Republican, District 10.

 

Board of Education

Jill D’Angelo-Powers
Democrat
Board of Education

Town Council has historically been divisive with the Republicans and Democrats not getting along. What are your thoughts on this, and how would you address it?

It’s important to remember we are all part of one town, and my loyalty fundamentally lies with the residents of Stratford, not with party politics. I’ve been canvassing the town this campaign season, and I have met many Republicans who are surprised that a Democrat has come to their door.  ‘m always quick to remind them that it will take our whole community coming together to create positive change. If elected, I hope to confront this partisan divide by remaining committed to listening and to collaboration.

Board of Education Candidates who did not respond are: Bill O’Brien, Republican; Celeste Burnett, Democrat; Kim Murphy, Republican; Chris Cormier, Democrat; Alec Voccola, Republican.

Land Planning Candidates

Christopher Silhavey
Republican
Zoning Board of Appeals, Zone 4 

Town Council has historically been divisive with the Republicans and Democrats not getting along. What are your thoughts on this, and how would you address it?

Politics has no place in Zoning decisions. Each application must be judged on its merits. Having chaired both the Planning and Zoning Commissions and joined Mayor Hoydick in committing to civility in Town government, I fostered an environment on both boards where elected Commissioners regardless of party can work closely and collaboratively for the betterment of the town. The voters deserve nothing less.

Paula Sweeley
Democrat
Zoning, Zone 1

Town Council has historically been divisive with the Republicans and Democrats not getting along. What are your thoughts on this, and how would you address it?

There is an intrinsic nature of the two parties to have different stances on issues, but interactions between them must be civil and conform to guidelines of propriety and fairness, with each party being enabled to state its thoughts and be respectfully considered. Ideally this is how things should work. However, this can only work if those elected and appointed have the intention to be part of a fair and civil government. The answer lies at the ballot box.

Candidates running for Land Planning positions who did not respond are: Ed Kingston, Republican, Planning Commission, Distict 1; Joe Gerics, Planning Commission, District 1; Ed Scinto, Planning Commission, District II;  Maxwell Dulin, Democrat, Planning Commission District II; Rich Fredette, Republican, Zoning Commission, District 1; Linda Manos, Democrat, Zoning Commission, District 1; Caz Mizera, Republican, Zoning Commission, District II; Ewald Joseph, Democrat, Zoning Commission, District II; Michael Carroll, Republican, Zoning Board of Appeals, District V; Karen Tracy, Democrat, Zoning Board of Appeals, District V; Shawn Kelemen, running to fill a vacancy, Zoning Board of Appeals, District 1.

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