Friday, May 24, 2024

Town Council Candidates

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Rachel S Rusnak
Democrat
Candidate for Town Council, District 1

I’m a mom of two awesome kids, a policy analyst, an advocate, and a volunteer, and I’m running for Town Council in Stratford’s 1st District.

I am running for Town Council because I want to live and raise my children in a vibrant and thriving community. Stratford has so much potential and opportunity, and with thoughtful, creative, and invested councilors at the table, we can bring Stratford forward to its best days.

I have a master’s degree in public administration and over ten years of experience in State government. I bring an extensive policy, budgeting, and project management background. In my current role, I oversee health policy and innovation projects for Connecticut’s Office of Health Strategy. I spent nine years at UConn Health, where I directed work on research, policy, and quality improvement initiatives. I also have training in collaborative negotiation, motivational interviewing, and Lean Six Sigma certification. I’m used to working in partnership with a wide variety of stakeholders with competing priorities, and I have built a career in successfully collaborating to find creative solutions and positive outcomes.

Considering all the important issues facing our community, I see needs associated with the most basic tenets of government. In my conversations out in the district, there’s definitely a sentiment that people feel like no one’s listening, that representatives are not addressing the concerns of the community and that information isn’t shared.

It’s the responsibility of our elected officials in a representative democracy to be available and responsive to the community, to stand for their constituency, representing their needs and best interests. Transparency has become a buzzword, but as someone who works in government, what transparency really means is that important information is accurate, accessible, and timely, informing residents of what is happening in our local government, how it’s happening, and how they can be involved. A well-informed electorate is the essence of democracy, and transparency is essential to that.

Bryan O’Connor
Republican
Candidate for Town Council, District 1

One of four generations of Stratford residents, Bryan graduated with a degree in Business Marketing from Roger Williams University in Rhode Island. Bryan currently serves as Chairman of the Stratford Planning Commission, and his dedication to improving the land and community surrounding him does not stop there. A loyal advocate for the areas of land use, zoning and planning, Bryan is also a member of Stratford’s Plan of Conservation & Development (POCD) Technical Advisory Committee and the Stratford Housing Partnership. In addition, Bryan currently serves on the boards of the Connecticut Clean Communities, and as the Treasurer of the Propeller Club of Narragansett Bay.

Bryan lives in Lordship with his wife Amanda, and their dog Dylan, along with his parents, siblings, nieces, and nephews.

Why are you running for office?

It is an incredible honor to run for Stratford’s 1st District. I am running for this position because I care about the town I grew up in, and my family that lives here.

What are your qualifications for this position?

  • Born and raised in Stratford CT (Lordship)
  • Roger Williams University Alumni
  • Propeller Club of Narragansett Bay Board Member / Treasurer (2019-Present)
  • Stratford Planning Commission Chairman (2021-Present)
  • Stratford Plan of Conservation & Development (POCD) Technical Advisory Committee Member
  • Stratford Housing Partnership Member (2023-Present)
  • Connecticut Clean Communities Board Member (2023-Present)

What is your vision for Stratford’s future? Please be as specific as possible.

My mission is to promote a transparent, accountable, and inclusive government that serves the needs of every resident. I believe in fairness, integrity, and collaboration; and I am committed to working tirelessly to provide fiscal responsibility, support our schools, improve our infrastructure, and help with the successful execution of the Plan of Conservation and Development (POCD).

Together, we can achieve remarkable things for our town. I invite you to join me in this endeavor by volunteering, spreading the word about our campaign, and sharing your thoughts and concerns. Together, let us continue to build a community that we are all proud to call home.

What do you consider to be the most important issue needing to be addressed in Stratford?

Continue to work with the Hoydick administration and obtain ownership of the Sikorsky Airport.

Chris Green
Democrat
Candidate for Town Council, District 2

Chris Green, a graduate of Harvard University, works in business and educational leadership where he has routinely built teams and consensus, executed visions of improvement and growth, and efficiently managed multimillion dollar budgets.  On the Stratford YMCA Board of managers, Chris supports efforts to increase capacity for childcare, enrichment, health, wellness, social and educational programming for Stratford citizens of all ages.  As a Rotary member, he supports community events and fundraising efforts for veterans, students, and other local and global charitable causes.  As a member of the Greenway/ Complete Streets Committee, he strives for improved access and safety for pedestrians and cyclists in Stratford. He also is involved in their cycling group to promote community connection and fitness. He volunteers weekly with the Sterling House Food Pantry and regularly attends the Housatonic River and Longbrook Park clean ups.

Chris was treasurer for all ten Democratic Town Council candidates in 2021, and ran for the State Senate in 2022. He consistently attends and speaks at council meetings, pushing for transparency, fairness, and budgets that balance our present and future needs for strong services and schools with affordable taxes. He is ready to listen to and work with all stakeholders as a part of Team Stratford for a bright future for all residents.

He grew up in Connecticut and moved to Stratford in 2018. His wife Amanda teaches at Flood Middle School, and his daughter Francesca is a year and a half old. Formerly a competitive distance runner, he enjoys playing basketball to stay active.

Why are you running for office?

Stratford citizens deserve responsive and diligent public servants. I want to ensure their voices are heard and their questions are answered. We have a great slate of candidates with the experience and skills needed to work collaboratively and lead the council with transparency and fairness.

What is your vision for Stratford’s future? Please be as specific as possible.

I want Stratford to thrive. I want to ensure our plans for budgeting, zoning and growth forge a sustainable path for both the short and long term. Stratford needs to adapt to keep up with the evolving needs of its residents and to meet the fiscal and environmental challenges ahead.

I want to make sure all departments and services are structured to maximize impact and quality while minimizing taxpayer cost. I hope, as with the impending automation of our garbage trucks, we can find ways to leverage technology, not to cut jobs, but as a means to redirect our limited personnel resources to other areas of need.

What do you consider to be the most important issue needing to be addressed in Stratford?

How do we get the best plan for our future? We should empower our residents and look at successful models from other towns. While I appreciate the public input workshops for the POCD and Zoning Reform initiatives, we can do more to keep citizens more consistently informed and involved. We can create a more proactive transparency by making the town website easier to navigate, recording and accessibly posting all commission meetings, and creating a concise aggregation of all recent and upcoming meetings, including summaries of recent decisions and important upcoming votes.  Residents should be able to ask the council questions during public comment, and public comment should more regularly be included – even in the case of special and emergency meetings that don’t require it.

Connecticut alone has 169 separate municipalities. They’re an incredible resource for best or better practices. Our current leadership is too quick to write off these possibilities by highlighting the ways in which Stratford is different. Stratford is a unique and amazing community and we should not overlook our differences, but we should stay hungry for new and better ideas. We need to work together, look ahead, and focus on growth.

Gavin Forrester III
Republican
Candidate for Town Council, District 2

Graduate of Stratford High School 1978

Bachelors of Science in Financial Accounting from University of New Haven 1982

Currently the Accounting Manager with RVI Insurance Group, Stamford, CT.

Married to my wife Margherita for 39 years, our daughter Frances graduated as valedictorian of Stratford High School (2007), received her PHD from Columbia University, and she and our son-in-law Kenty are living in Salem, Massachusetts.

Why are you running for office?

I am running for town council again because I have lived in Stratford for 60 years and believe from our history comes our future. As a graduate of the Stratford Public School System and parent of a former graduate, I want to keep this town a great place to raise a family. I have the experience in finance and community service necessary to be an effective town board member. I will work hard and make sure your voice is heard.

What are your qualifications for this position?

I feel my experience in public office will be a great asset to the district, especially when so many current members of the town council are prevented from running again due to term limits.

  • Former Zoning Commission member from the district (1999-2003)
  • Former Town Council member from the district (2003-2009)
  • Former Chairman of the Board of Education (2009-2013)
  • Current Chairman of the Board of Zoning Appeals (2016-2023)
  • Former Chairman of the Charter Revision Commission
  • Former member of several Town Council Sub-committees including Longbrook Park, Ordinance, and Public Safety.
  • Retired volunteer after 30 years of service with the Stratford EMS
  • Former soccer coach with Sterling House Community Center
  • Current member of several Stratford philanthropic organizations

My promise remains a simple one – to work as hard as possible, in a bi-partisan way, for the best interest of the citizens of Stratford, putting people first and politics second.

Work to improve Economic Development Opportunities

Continue to support efforts at Longbrook Park to maintain it as a place for all Stratford families to enjoy, and partner with the Historic District to preserve our history while taking advantage of modern technology.

What is your vision for Stratford’s future? Please be as specific as possible.

To make Stratford one of the most progressive and forward-thinking towns in the state by:

  • Maintaining a vibrant economy and exploring opportunities to partner with businesses to grow our tax base
  • Promoting a rural quality of life, providing opportunities for families to grow and flourish in town
  • And grow our sense of community pride by working with the Board of Education to remove Stratford from the Alliance District List

What do you consider to be the most important issue needing to be addressed in Stratford?

The most important issue facing Stratford is developing a solid mix of commercial and residential opportunities while preserving our quality of life, balancing the tax burden between commercial and business, and working to improve the personal income of families by attracting good paying jobs to come into our community.

Feel free to contact me at: Gavinforrester50@gmail.com  Home Phone (203) 378-9979 Cell (203) 509-1827

Alvin O’Neal
Democrat
Candidate for Town Council, District 3

Alvin O’Neal is a familiar name to many voters in the current Third District. He represented the area on the Town Council for seven years. Highlights of his many accomplishments: supporting the funding and building of the current Fire Department Building, EMS Building, Animal Control facility, and Victoria Soto School; renovations to the Police Department, and funding for the EMERGE women’s shelter.

Closer to home, in the district, he helped fund the reconstruction of the ballfields at Birdseye and Honeyspot schools, the conversion of Birdseye School to town offices and a recreational center, and continuous funding and support to the South End Community Center.

Alvin has a building construction and management degree and a Doctor of Religious Education from the Bethel Bible Institute. When on the Council, he served on the Pension Board, Building Needs Committee, and was chairman of the Community Development (CDBG) program.

Why are you running for office?

As a Democrat and former Town Councilman, I am highly motivated to work alongside the current administration to better our town and specifically my district.

What are your qualifications for this position?

I have served on the Town Council previously for seven-plus years representing District 2 – which is now known as District 3 – and have helped to secure funding for and the building of new town buildings and new school in and out of the district, am a continual volunteer, and am extremely familiar with the operations and processes regarding how the town runs.

What is your vision for Stratford’s future? Please be as specific as possible.

To help with Economic Development: To bring in business that will create new jobs for our community and bring in revenue to our town, business that would benefit the town’s tax base. Our town has so many possibilities, including working together on the Town Council to better all of Stratford, creating a partnership with the BOE to create a top-notch education, having clean and beautiful common spaces, finding efficiencies within the government, and managing a multi-million dollar budget.

What do you consider to be the most important issue needing to be addressed in Stratford?

Housing and economic development go hand in hand. I support collaborative efforts between public and private sectors, which can lead to the creation of affordable housing initiatives, such as tax incentives for developers to build affordable units. Our economic development office must research, and the Town Council must implement, policies that incentivize private sector investment in our community, fostering job growth and economic opportunity.

Rene`Marie Gibson
Democrat
Candidate for Town Council, District 4

The Democratic candidate for Town Council in District 4 is one of the best-known and most successful community organizers in town. Rene`Marie Gibson is the Executive Director of the South End Basketball Tournament and Community Expos and was elected to the Board of Directors with the Fairfield County Juneteenth after serving as the 2021 Parade Marshal.  She is a volunteer Shelter Manager, Team Leader, and with her divinity education a Chaplain for the Community Emergency Response Team program, in Bridgeport and Stratford. Rene is a member of Black Rock Church, and she also acknowledges First Baptist of Stratford as her “church family,” for she along with her family were long-time members.

Rene came to Stratford at age 4 with her parents. She attended grades K-12 in Stratford, graduated from Stratford High School, and moved out of town before returning years ago. She has extensive professional and community relations experience in the Life and Health insurance industry.  She was elected to and is currently serving on the Zoning Board of Appeals, representing Zone II (current Town Council Districts 3 and 4).

Rene` is a mother, mother-in-law, grandmother, and a new great-grandmother, too!  She is inspired by the love and diversity in her entire family and her communities. “As a member of the Stratford Town Council, steadfastly I will support town citizens on issues like the chronic flooding that harms the 4th District, for tax relief, and for needed improvements in public education. We also must address the implications of gerrymandering to our local and state governments.

If not now, then when? I had to ask myself that because I have been approached for decades to get involved politically. I was hesitant to become a politician because I see myself as more of an advocate. However, I prayed about it and received confirmation that it makes sense to have a seat at the table. I hope that my spirit will help other council members make decisions to sustain aging citizens, working-class citizens, and their families, build wellness, and strong communities in all of Stratford.”

Anthony Owusu-Afriyie
Democrat
Candidate for Town Council, District 5

Anthony is a 2021 AmeriCorps Alum Segal Fellow from the Bronx, NY, and raised in Stratford. His parents migrated to the United States from Ghana, West Africa, instilling in him a strong sense of cultural heritage and community engagement. With a degree in political science from Western Connecticut State University and currently pursuing his master’s in public administration with a specialization in urban development and sustainability from the Marxe School of Public and International Affairs at Baruch College, Anthony blends his passion for politics with a keen interest in making a positive impact on his surroundings.

Why are you running for office?

I am a product of the public school system, having attended Nichols Elementary School, Wooster Middle School and graduating from Stratford High School in 2015. My first experiences of employment were with the Stratford Rec Department, Rite Aid in Paradise Green, and the YMCA on Main St.

Stratford has given me many opportunities and taught me not to take for granted our wonderful way of life. That is why I am running for the Town Council. To be a steward of what we value, and sustain it for the future.

During the pandemic, I volunteered to do national service with AmeriCorps. For 10 months I had the privilege to collaborate with the National Guard, the Red Cross, local health departments, and federal stakeholders to provide help for Americans in need throughout the country. Whether it was responding to natural disasters, building homes for young families, or rehabilitating blighted properties, I witnessed what people could achieve when they have a mission, and share their expertise. I believe my lived experienced can add to our collective governance.

What are your qualifications for this position?

Throughout my young career, I have actively participated in various roles that underscore my commitment to public service. I have had the honor to have interned for notable institutions such as the City of Bridgeport Small Minority and Women Business Enterprise, the Congressman of Connecticut’s First Congressional District, John B. Larson, Former Secretary of the State of Connecticut, Denise Merrill, and the Connecticut General Assembly as a Senate Intern. These experiences have equipped me with a comprehensive understanding of the inner workings of government and policymaking. Currently, I serve as a Congressional Staffer for the Congresswoman representing Connecticut’s Third Congressional District.

What is your vision for Stratford’s future? Please be as specific as possible.

Stratford has a long history of being an industrial and manufacturing hub. However, the days when low-cost producers of standard quality goods dominated the world are over. In the new world, brains are weapons. Knowledge and technology are the ammunition. Stratford in the future will emphasize knowledge, technology, and efficiency. Government usually forgets that a change in priorities requires giving up old priorities. Frequently our failure to eliminate the old as we adopt the new means fragmented resources leaving neither the old nor new priorities fulfilled. A few new priorities I want for Stratford are a Stratford school-to-work partnership. A comprehensive reform of education in our town to make our schools practical places where students are prepared to compete for jobs in the modern marketplace. Another priority is a complete infrastructure upgrade for Stratford’s Business Services. By spending on making key offices technologically efficient Stratford can facilitate the transaction of businesses and support purchases of those who wish to do business with the town. The Stratford I envision will have a stable, talented, productive workforce and outstanding access to transportation. Through our educational system and accessible infrastructure, we will attract diverse businesses and entrepreneurs who are chasing their American dream right here on our gold coast.

What do you consider to be the most important issue needing to be addressed in Stratford?

Climate Resiliency. Stratford is positioned on the shores of Long Island Sound and the Housatonic River. It is blessed with coastal resources, including beaches, tidal wetlands, and estuaries. However, many of Stratford’s 52,000 residents and approximately two-thirds of its commercial properties are located in areas where the ground surface elevation is just a few feet above high tide. Hurricane Sandy, which flooded much of the Town in 2012 and resulted in millions of dollars of damage, was only the most recent of many storms that have impacted the Town. As devastating as the flooding was during Hurricane Sandy, the water levels within Long Island Sound are, unequivocally rising. We need to create an innovative and sustainable climate resiliency plan that is both forward looking and flexible.

Rafael Irizarry
Republican
Candidate for Town Council, District 5

Highly experienced and dedicated individual seeking a position on the Town Council, District 5 as a member of the Republican Party. Committed to representing and advocating for the best interests of the community, with a focus on economic growth, employment opportunities, education and public welfare.

Skills:

  • Political Leadership and Advocacy
  • Bilingual Proficiency: English and Spanish
  • Public Speaking and Communication
  • Community Engagement and Outreach
  • Policy Development and Legislation
  • Budgeting and Financial Management
  • Conflict Resolution and Decision Making
  • Dedication to Integrity and Honesty

Experience:

  • Irizarry Logistics Package Transportation LLC (2023-present)
    • Founder and Manager
    • Established a successful package transportation and delivery services company
  • SEIU1199 (Delegate: 18 years)
    • State Employee Union Representative
    • Advocated for and defended the rights and policies of state employees
  • Town Committee for Democrat for the City of Bridgeport, Connecticut District 137 (1994-present)
    • Elected Representative
    • Represented Approximately 40,000 votes in the district, worked on various campaigns, and actively engaged in non-profit organizations
  • Bridgeport City Council, 137, District Democrat (1989-1994)
    • Elected City Council member
  • Remington Arms of Bridgeport (Years of Service)
    • Worked for Remington Arms of Bridgeport
  • Sherwin Williams (2 years)
    • Worked for Sherwin Williams
  • DHMAS for the Mental Health Department (1992-2021)
    • Worked for the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services for thirty years until retirement in 2021
  • Ran for Congressman as Independent for the Third District (2022)

Education:

  • Bachelor’s Degree in Education and Political Science – World University, Ponce, Puerto Rico (1982)
  • High School Diploma – Rafael Aparicio High School, Adjuntas, Puerto Rico (1979)

Achievements and Recognition:

  • Honorific from Governor Honorable Pedro Rosello of Puerto Rico (2000)
  • Author of “El Huerfano de Ponce” – A best-selling book in Spanish that highlights life achievements in leadership, education and politics
  • Recipient of numerous recognitions for exemplary service and dedication

Community Involvement:

  • Puerto Rican Parade Committee in Fairfield County
    • Active participant in organizing and supporting the Puerto Rican parade
  • Support for Special Needs in Puerto Rico
    • Involved in initiatives to help individuals with special needs in Puerto Rico
  • Advocacy for Veterans’ Benefits
    • Dedicated to Making funding for veterans’ benefits more accessible and accountable

Political Focus:

  • Economic Growth and Inflation Control
  • Employment Opportunities and Job Creation
  • Voting Rights and Environmental Issues
  • Transportation Funding and Mental Health Support
  • Police Funding and Public Safety
  • Combat Corruption and Foster Education and small Business Funding
  • Address Coastal flooding and support Non-Profit Organizations
  • Uphold Religious Freedoms and support Churches
  • Ensure Peace, Security, and Drug Rehabilitation Programs
  • Establish Community Services for the Homeless

Personal Information:

  • Born: January 2, 1961, Ponce, Puerto Rico
  • Residence: Stratford, Connecticut
  • Marital Status: Widower
  • Family: six daughters, five Grandchildren, and a dog named Bengie

Why are you running for office?

I represent the people. Thirty-eight years experience

What are your qualifications for this position?

Thirty-eight years in politics

What is your vision for Stratford’s future? Please be as specific as possible.

Best place to live, work, grow business

What do you consider to be the most important issue needing to be addressed in Stratford?

Education, opportunity for business

Phil Young
Democrat
Candidate for Town Council, District 6

I am running for Councilman in the 6th District because I believe that public service is a valuable part of our democracy. There are so many great ways that people give back to our communities, either through a PTA, the Boy Scouts, a food bank, whatever it is, all are important to the fabric of our society. I personally have many passions in my life. Many people identify me as a professional chef and my skills in the culinary field, but I have always had a passion for good government and public policy. I believe the Town’s Government is here to help its citizens, be responsive and transparent. I look forward to working collaboratively with an administration that will do this.

Now, after being involved in Town and State governance, for the last 10 years, I have sound knowledge and experience to be an asset to the town of Stratford. By using the knowledge and skills I have learned in my business and legislative careers, I believe I can work with the administration with some new ideas and my commitment to the Town of Stratford.

State Representative, 120th District, Stratford CT, 2018-2023 -Assistant Majority Whip
-Vice Chair, Public Health Committee

-Member of Environment, Judiciary and Public Health Committees Stratford Town Councilman, 6th District 2015-2017

-Majority Leader

-Chair, Ordinance Committee Businessman/Professional Chef for over 25 years

I believe my experience, work history and knowledge make me uniquely qualified to be a Town Councilman.

Stratford is a great town. It has a suburban and small town feel, and has a wealth of natural resources for the enjoyment of its citizens. It is bucolic and a little sleepy. That small town feel is something we need to promote because it is a great draw for family orientated citizens. Stratford needs to be diligent in the up keep of its physical infrastructure. Making sure our roads, parks, schools among so many other things, have a direct impact on how the citizens feel about the town. The services that Stratford supplies to citizens is something that is as important as the physical structure. There are great civic organizations that provide services for the elderly as well kids etc. we need to continue to foster and expand them where we can. There are so many more that I can’t list them.

The problem with that of course is money. The cost of many of these services etc. will inevitably rise, and with the town where it is right now, property taxes are likely to go up. While we can trim the budget by small percentages, and we should, roughly 84% of it is taken up by fixed costs.

There is no quick fix to this, but I think we need to double down on economic development to raise our tax base. Here is a thought about one way to brighten Stratford’s future, along with many other projects to have success. One idea of that is an arts and entertainment District. Starting at Two Roads and continuing to the Shakespeare Theater grounds. Encourage stores, galleries, music venues as well as restaurants. While Stratford’s restaurants are fine, we need to create a restaurant scene that will attract people from other places—competition brings in more competition, which brings on other restaurants. When the Theater project is done, it will attract people, as well as our beaches, helping to create a dynamic fun destination area. I think of Bridgeport’s Black Rock neighborhood.

This will take a long time, effort and money, but the future of Stratford could be much more self-dependent. While this is working, the remediation at the AVCO plant continues, which with proper development would be a game changer.

Kaitlyn Shake
Democrat
Candidate for Town Council, District 7

A lifelong Connecticut resident, Councilwoman Shake has been a proud member of the AFSCME CHCA Unit 23 Nursing Union for over a decade. She earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Nursing from Fairfield University and a Bachelor of General Studies / Biological Sciences degree from UCONN with a Double Minor in Sociology and Women’s Studies. Her pursuit of Nursing first began at Housatonic Community College, where she completed an Associates Degree in Math/Science, while at the same time volunteered and entrenched herself in various community organizing and advocacy efforts to protect the most vulnerable. She has been a political activist and volunteer for more than 20 years. After the 2016 election, Kaitlyn became a co-founder of one of the largest and most active Fairfield County Indivisible groups, and a State Organizer with the Connecticut Women’s March.

Shake was involved as a statewide and local advocate for the Connecticut Paid Family Medical Leave Campaign that successfully became Connecticut law in 2019. She has been a volunteer with CWEALF (Connecticut Women’s Education and Legal Fund), the oldest women and girl’s legal advocacy group in Connecticut for over 10 years. A proud supporter and volunteer with Make the Road CT, an immigration advocacy/policy group. Her government experience also has made her more active on environmental issues.

Democrat Kaitlyn Shake quickly emerged as a leader in her two terms on the Stratford Town Council. Despite the recent political redistricting that moved her out of District 2, Shake is ready to fight for her constituents in her new home of District 7 and all of Stratford with a third term on the Town Council.

Why are you running for office?

I have accomplished a number of victories benefitting my district and all residents of Stratford by leading with integrity, compassion and accountability. I am committed to continue listening, responding and assisting our residents’ concerns, ideas and inquiries. I filed to run in my new home district, District 7, to continue building a Stratford where everyone can see his or her tax dollars hard at work. Over the past two terms, I have delivered for my district and all Stratford Residents: secured $1M in additional funding for Stratford Schools; negotiating and securing $100,000 for long overdue park improvements and upgrades to High Park; $150,000 South End Flood Study. I solidified $240,000 for Longbrook Park infrastructure repairs and have addressed the historical public safety issues by working with our Public Safety Department while embracing and protecting our vital green open spaces. I want to continue this work in my third term on the Town Council, and as the new District 7 Councilwoman.

What are your qualifications for this position?

I am a committed and responsive public servant. Over my last two terms in addition to being an effective Minority Leader, I have served on: Public Works Committee, Building Needs Committee, Pension Board Committee, Longbrook Park Commission (Chairwoman), WPCA and Boothe Park Commission. I take my elected responsibilities seriously and have gained experience and knowledge by being an active and present participant over the last 4 years.

What is your vision for Stratford’s future? Please be as specific as possible.

Stratford has very dedicated public servants who have stepped up to face challenges, but I have proven that I can effectively work across the political aisle and get things done for everyone. My vision for Stratford includes building the next wave of leaders, continuing to serve my constituents, and using taxpayer dollars effectively so that all Stratford residents can have a good quality of life.

What do you consider to be the most important issue needing to be addressed in Stratford?

The elephant in the room will be figuring out how to fund Stratford Public Schools during next year’s budget process. While I was able to negotiate and deliver another 1 million dollars to the Board of Education this year, next year our town will have to deal with a 8 Million Dollar gap that will require the Mayor’s Office, Town Council, Board of Education and our Stratford elected State representatives to work together to solidify additional State funding to help bridge the gap. If and when elected, I am committed to working with all respected stakeholders to ensure our town gets the funding we need from Hartford in order to invest and support our most vital town investment: Stratford’s Public Education.

Jean Marie Sutton
Republican
Candidate for Town Council, District 7

Resident and taxpayer since 2009 after moving from Westchester County, New York. I chose to raise my young family in our unique and diverse community, with a great pride for the arts, walkability, history, and abundant natural resources. Single mother of two teens who have thrived within the Stratford Public School System, taking advantage of all the opportunities available to them. Forever grateful to call Stratford home.

Love where you live, leave things better than you found them.

Why are you running for office?

My dedication to the Town and volunteering within the community led to the position I hold today as District Seven Town Councilor. As your District Seven Town Councilor, I am running to continue working hard to move Stratford forward. As a team player committed to doing what is best for our community, I work alongside Mayor Laura Hoydick, Town Council and the administration with professionalism and civility. As your councilor, my priority is to listen and represent you and all constituents as best as possible.

What are your qualifications for this position?

For more than a decade, I have been part of many town committees and boards. My long history of volunteerism includes a two-year term on the Town Council representing District 7, and ten years as an elected member of the Stratford Republican Town Committee. I have a college background in Political Science and Legal Studies at The University of Delaware and Housatonic Community College. A full time Real Estate Professional and Legal Assistant, a proud member of Rotary Club International, and lifetime member of VFW 9460 Auxiliary, as well as the Wooster Middle School PTSA 2020-Present.

What is your vision for Stratford’s future? Please be as specific as possible.

Stratford is a vibrant community, loaded with opportunity. I look forward to the growth, and will continue to support the arts, tourism, historic beauty, and our miles and miles of shoreline. Quality of life in Stratford is key, we need to support our youth (our future), as well as our aging and vulnerable population.

What do you consider to be the most important issue needing to be addressed in Stratford?

Taxes. The cost of living continues to increase with inflation. We need to keep taxes as low as possible while maintaining vital services. As a full-time Real Estate Professional, I understand the direct relationship between property assessments and the mill rate better than most. Bottom line, if we cannot keep taxes under control, people will look to other towns. This is why I was proud to support a budget in 2022 that actually CUT taxes.

Carl Glad
Republican
Candidate for Town Council, District 8

I was born and raised in Stratford with deep family roots in our town. When it came time to decide where to raise my children, Stratford was the perfect answer. I moved back to Stratford in 2014 with my wife Amy and my children Anderson and Caroline. I am a partner and owner of a well-respected law practice that focuses on estate planning, elder law, probate, and real estate. Since moving back to Stratford, I have been an active member of our community, volunteering and serving on boards and commissions.  I have a bachelor’s degree in political science from American University in Washington, DC, and a law degree from the University Of Baltimore School Of Law. I love our community and living in this town. I am Glad for Stratford.

Why are you running for office?

I am running for the 8th District Town Council seat because Stratford is an amazing town and I want to contribute to its success. Growing up in Stratford brought me wonderful experiences and inspired me to continually give back to our community. I want our children to feel the same way about Stratford as they build their future lives and careers here. Stratford has a unique, dynamic, and strong community. Our town is rich in history and a home to new beginnings. I want to build on all these positives and continue our progress. I believe in bringing our collective strength together to put our community first.  Through this I know we can unlock all of Stratford’s potential. I am looking forward to bringing my experiences, dedication, and new perspectives to the Council to ensure that Stratford continues to grow and remains a community where all people can live, work, and raise their families. I am Glad for Stratford and I want everyone that lives, works, and visits in our community to feel the same.

What are your qualifications for this position?

I am uniquely qualified to serve on the Town Council and represent the 8th District; I am a homeowner, the owner of a local-small business, an attorney, and a committed volunteer in our community. I spent several years working in legislative affairs in Washington DC. That distinct experience provided me with an invaluable insight into the value of compromise, coalition building, government budgeting, and the importance of good governance. As a local attorney that has a focus in real estate, I am incredibly familiar with our zoning regulations, commercial development, the value of our homes and why people are moving to Stratford. Most importantly, I care deeply about this community. I made the choice to move back to Stratford to live, raise my children, and build a business. I have volunteered hundreds of hours supporting our non-profits and through that service I have gained a deep understanding of the diverse needs of our residents. As the Chair of the Board at Sterling House Community Center, I led an in-depth study into what our community looks like, what it truly needs, what services and programs exist, who utilizes those services and programs, and where the gaps exist. I also led a year-long needs assessment as Chair of the Town of Stratford Commission on Aging. I plan to use that understanding, experiences, perspectives, and my dedication to Stratford to benefit my neighbors in the 8th District and our community.

What is your vision for Stratford’s future? Please be as specific as possible.

My vision for Stratford’s future is a thriving community that embraces and celebrates itself and its diversity. I envision a town where we celebrate our arts and cultural events, beautiful natural resources, thriving small business and restaurants, amazing community organizations and a top-notch education system. Stratford should be on the top of the list when they are looking to buy a home. I believe we have made tremendous strides in recent years and that we are just beginning what will be a renaissance of Stratford. I know we can do this through fiscal responsibility; thoughtful, coordinated, and sustainable development; and effective and efficient services, programs, and events. I am confident about where we are headed and where we will go.

What do you consider to be the most important issue needing to be addressed in Stratford?

Sustainability.  As a community, we need to proactively build sustainability in all aspects of our town.  We need to ensure that our economic development is the kind of development that is sustainable for generations to come both economically and environmentally. Our financial decisions need to be fiscally responsible so that we can sustain a mill rate that encourages livability across our community. Our government services should be able to meet the needs and demands of our community today but also include the flexibility needed for the future. The investments in our Public Education System cannot only be for short-term gains, they must also reflect the projected needs of our children. As a Town Council we should [address] where we believe Stratford is headed and substantively engage the community in that discussion. In recent years our community has taken steps to make our government more resilient and we can build on that success. The Stratford Public Library, Senior Services and Health Department are already implementing strategic plans that include significant public input. The Planning Commission and Zoning Commission are also in the process of developing plans for our future; these processes are also collaborative with the entire community. Our community deserves this kind of forward-looking and proactive thinking. We need to continue and enhance this process across all our town government.

Mark Juliano
Democrat
Candidate for Town Council, District 9

Mark Juliano is a lifelong Stratford resident and Bunnell High School graduate who is running for Town Council in District 9. Mark is a member of UA Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 777 and is a 3rd generation steamfitter. His father was a fifty-year member.

Mark has been a long-time member of the Stratford Democratic Town Committee, and lost a close contest for Town Council in 2015. Immediately after, though, he won a special election in May 2016 for an open seat on the town Zoning Commission. Mark also served on the Building Subcommittee when Stratford High was being built, and worked as a volunteer during the two Dannel Malloy campaigns for governor, knocking on doors across the whole town and calling residents through phone banking.

Mark has been active with the Elks Club, and volunteered with Homes for the Brave in Bridgeport, providing the cooking, transporting, and cleaning roles for the veterans’ Sunday meals.

“I am running because we need more transparency. We need to work more closely with the Board of Education to make sure there is a great teacher behind every child — they are the future. And how about the retirees; let’s work for them, too.”

Why are you running for office?

To advance our democratic policy’s, to support the board of education, our town’s senior citizens, and economic development – 3 of many issues to help Stratford move along.

What are your qualifications for this position?

I have been a lifelong resident and been active to see the issues at hand, and to have forward progress. I worked for Asea Brown & Boveri that produces electrification Co-Generation plants with substantial tradesmen under my supervision, with many facets of payroll to expediting materials to save dollars.

What is your vision for Stratford’s future? Please be as specific as possible.

To have a peaceful process for the public. Let’s move our town to quaint storefronts with apartments above where people can park and walk. Make (AVCO) Point Stratford a remarkable destination place for thriving businesses.

What do you consider to be the most important issue needing to be addressed in Stratford?

To keep budget in line and spending down. Listen to the people on all fronts and support economic development.

Kathleen Callahan
Democrat
Candidate for Town Council, District 10

Raised in a politically active family and immersed in civic responsibility, I am deeply committed to improving lives and communities. I am the chair of the Stratford Democratic Town Committee.

As a social worker, I have been involved with system and organizational change and sustainability, and was responsible for the development and implementation of community outreach and programming. I am currently providing legislative and policy consultation, grant writing, and technical support. My previous software career was multi-disciplined with systems ranging from real-time, multi-tasking, embedded airborne avionics and surface-based radar applications to e-commerce web sites.

My wife, Karen Tracy, and I have lived in the Second Hill Lane neighborhood with our ever-changing family of dogs for 13 years.

Why are you running for office?

Two years ago, I met hundreds of neighbors and received almost five hundred votes when I ran for Town Council in District 10. The conversations I had with people throughout the district have not left me, and our shared concerns have not improved. I am running because I love Stratford and believe we must leverage our untapped potential and balance representation with more urgency. We have an opportunity to change course and elect individuals with new perspectives and different experiences and skills.

What are your qualifications for this position?

I bring innovative ideas and years of experience as a lifelong learner, consensus builder, problem solver, and leader. I think in relationships, systems, stories, and data, and I am grounded in the frailty and magnificence of our human experience, individually and collectively. I facilitate change by integrating all the necessary, available information.

I have a Bachelor of Science in Engineering and spent over two decades as a software engineer and later received my Master of Social Work. Both of my careers have involved complex problems that demand tenacity, analytical abilities, and the capacity to work towards solutions over extended periods. Decisions impacting and involving the public necessitate meticulous planning, anticipating unintended consequences, and building broad coalitions.

What is your vision for Stratford’s future? Please be as specific as possible.

I envision a Stratford where…our entire public shoreline is accessible for residents and visitors to walk and bike; climate resilience is a top priority; our students and teachers have additional tools they need in their classrooms, and parents and community members have increased trust in a budget process that is more collaborative than adversarial; a thriving arts community is restored; a centrally located youth center is created; our zoning regulations support options and opportunities for housing and businesses, and consider the full lifespan of residents; commissions and boards are nonpartisan appointments; Remington Woods is partially conserved and a new collaborative STEM high school and research center sits alongside the property; and economic development is intentional and thinks outside the box when it comes to business incentives, lessening the residential tax burden.

What do you consider to be the most important issue needing to be addressed in Stratford?

I believe too many of the concerns and issues in Stratford are rooted in the same problem and until we address this problem, we cannot gain momentum or appropriately resolve the issues we face. There is a sense of distrust and skepticism that separates those who hold power and those who do not. This includes residents who consistently show up at town meetings, and voters of either, or neither, political party, with whom I have shared thoughts about our future. The disconnect results in frustration for all, with so few community-informed decisions about things that directly affect the taxpayers.

Paul Aurelia
Republican
Candidate for Town Council, District 10

I am a lifelong Stratford resident who chose to stay and raise my family in town. I have been married to my wife Terry for over 41 years. I am retired from two careers, the first being from the Stratford Police Department where I served for 26 years, retiring as the Deputy Chief of Police. My second career was as a Labor Relations / Security Manager at Sikorsky Aircraft, where I worked for over 14 years.

Why are you running for office?

I am running for office because I genuinely care about Stratford, the town I have always been proud of. I have never desired to live anywhere else. I believe that Stratford has been trending in the right direction and I would like to work to maintain that progress. It is important to me that Stratford’s overall quality of life remains high, so that all of those who live here or choose to move here experience the wonderful hometown that I was fortunate enough to grow up in and raise my family in.

What are your qualifications for this position?

I am uniquely well qualified for the Council position. My two careers have provided me with experience which is perfectly suited to the role. As the Deputy Police Chief I was responsible for the day to day operations of the Stratford Police Department. I was responsible for an eight million dollar annual budget. I also interacted daily with the Town Manager / Mayor and with various Town departments. I have a thorough working knowledge of Town of Stratford operations and a proven track record of cooperation and accomplishment. At Sikorsky Aircraft I was the HR lead for approximately 600 represented employees in the Machine Shop and Assembly areas. I have also earned multiple advanced level college degrees which have given me the necessary tools to ensure that I can successfully navigate what I will be facing while representing my district. I have a MBA and a MS in Labor Relations, both from the University of New Haven, a MS in Management from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and I am a 2001 graduate of the FBI National Academy in Quantico VA. I have a long track record of volunteering in Stratford. I am currently a Planning Commissioner and in the past I have served on the Stratford Youth and Family Advisory Board, the Public Safety Committee, the Board of the Stratford Police Activities League, and I am a life member of the local VFW Auxiliary. In summary I feel as though I am well suited and highly qualified to serve and would be honored to represent the 10th District on the Stratford Town Council.

What is your vision for Stratford’s future? Please be as specific as possible.

Stratford is composed of many different unique neighborhoods and is blessed with a broad diversity of cultures and people. Each neighborhood should be supported as each contributes to the overall Stratford experience. In my opinion a well organized and efficiently run municipal government is the key to Stratford’s overall well being. As a Council member, I would work to see that it is the interests of Stratford and its citizens that are the priority, and that Stratford continues to be a desired destination for people looking for a special community in which to live and raise their families.

What do you consider to be the most important issue needing to be addressed in Stratford?

I consider the overall quality of life and Stratford’s affordability to be issues of primary importance. There are many items that roll up under those headings. As examples, public safety, robust economic development, an effective school system, well kept public parks and facilities and stable tax rates are all critical issues which demand our attention.

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