Angie Chastain*, Republican

Spouse: David.

Children: Three sons, all of whom graduated from, or are current students at, New Milford Public Schools.

Occupation: Community relations manager for Danbury Prospect.

Number of years as a New Milford resident: 12 years.

Education: Holds a bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in education.

Past and present political and community experience: Member of New Milford PTO and New Milford High School Grad Party. Former member of the Economic Development Commission.

What are the three most important issues facing the town related to the office being sought, and what are your proposed solutions to each?

Drug education and prevention: I do not feel adequate education or early interventions are provided to our students. I would propose the following in an attempt to help combat and curb substance abuse. One, random testing for student athletes. This program would focus on treatment, not punishment. Two, drug education programs beginning in the sixth grade. I’ve heard many folks say that “Drug Education programs (such as D.A.R.E.) have been proven to not work.” My response to that is, it certainly can’t hurt and it's certainly better than doing nothing. Three, bringing in multiple speakers throughout the school year present to students in sixth through 12th grades, as well as offer a parent education component during evening hours. Four, work with town officials to reach out and provide an inclusive environment and activities for young adults in the area. Of course, I understand this issue is very complex and these are very simple ideas. My goal is to provide a starting point for discussion and action.

Lack of trade skills from high school graduates: Preparing students for beyond high school is the goal of New Milford Public Schools. While for many students that leads to college, for many others it does not. For those that attend college, just slightly over 50 percent actually graduate within six years of starting (this is a national statistic, not specific to New Milford). I support giving students options. However, students often time don’t understand what those options are as college is all they hear about.

I would love to see New Milford Public Schools offer student experiences while in high school for some of the job fields that are currently in need of qualified candidates — welders; aircraft, auto and diesel mechanics; plumbers; stonemasons; electricians — and many, many more. I know what you're going to say, "we have technical schools for that." True, but that means students must leave their classmates, and often times, teammates and move to another school, in another town. We should be offering these options right here, at Schaghticoke Middle School and New Milford High School.

There are many cost-effective ways to implement these ideas and I look forward to pursuing these during my next term on the BOE.

Meeting student’s basic needs: Our students are arriving every morning with more baggage than ever before - they're hungry, they're anxious, they're tired, they're overly scheduled and stressed because of it, some are homeless, others are victims of abuse - whatever the issue I believe in addition to the mental health staff that has been added in recent years to our staff, there are common sense, low-cost assistance we can provide to our students.

First, do a better job of advertising our breakfast program to ensure students to whom breakfast isn't available at home, as well as students who were running late and didn't have a chance to grab something before leaving the house are aware. Encourage each building provide adequate time for students to utilize the program by students. Additionally, I would couple this with actively pursuing students who consistently don't eat during school lunch to make sure they, and their parents, are aware of our free and reduced lunch programs.

Second, implement a weekend backpack program in all grades for students who don't have access to food on week-ends and school breaks. I hate snow days, but not because of reasons you might think, but because I think all day of students who were looking forward to coming to school to get something to eat. For a percentage of our students, the school meal is the only meal they have all day.

Third, expanding our mentor program - there are SO many students who would benefit from a community mentor. Someone to listen to them, ask them how they're doing, make sure they have their homework done - simply take an interest in them!

Fourth, increased parent education opportunities. When you leave the hospital with a new baby no one hands you a "parenting manual" so most of simply do the best we can. We need to encourage one another, not constantly criticize. We need to model good behaviors and kindness. We need honest discussions about a variety of topics and we need all parents in attendance.

Again, this is by no means an exhaustive list, just something to start the conversation.

Eileen Monaghan, Democrat

Age: 72.

Spouse: Gerard J. Monaghan.

Children: Edward Film, Doris Wickiser, Brenna Behel and Sean Monaghan. She has nine grandchildren.

Occupation: Retired. She was a teacher at John Pettibone School for 10 years and a substitute teacher in New Milford for seven years. She was also vice president of an international professional association for 25 years.

Number of years as a New Milford resident: 49.

Education: She graduated from St. John’s University in New York City with a B.S. in education and Western Connecticut State University in Danbury with a master’s degree in education with a concentration in reading.

Past and present political and community experience: Volunteer with Literacy Volunteers on the Green in New Milford, co-president of the Merryall Center for the Arts, a religious education teacher and Eucharist minister at St. Francis Xavier Church. Member of the Greater New Milford Chamber of Commerce. Past volunteer for Camp Jonathan. Former vice president of New Milford First. Former president of the Garden Club of New Milford. Former president of the 56 Danbury Road Association. Former member of the New Milford High School Building Committee, the New Milford Public Library Board of Trustees, the Northville Homemakers, the New Milford Jaycees and Fish of New Milford.

What are the three most important issues facing the town related to the office being sought, and what are your proposed solutions to each?

Budget: Closely monitor the discretionary part of the education budget to make sure the monies are being use to benefit the students, teachers and staff to get the best possible outcome.

Curriculum development: Look at the curriculum in its entirety to assure continuity throughout the entire educational experience K-12.

Attracting and retaining the best teachers: Providing continuing education and acknowledging and supporting teachers in their daily challenges.

Joseph Failla, Republican

Age: 59.

Spouse: Patty.

Children: Jacqueline, 16.

Occupation: Attorney for 19 years.

Number of years as a New Milford resident: 13 years.

Education: He holds a B.S. and M.S. from C.W. Post Center at Long Island University in New York and a J.D. from Pace University.

Past and present political and community experience: Former member of the New Milford Board of Education, the New Milford Town Council and the Artificial Turf Construction Committee.

What are the three most important issues facing the town related to the office being sought, and what are your proposed solutions to each?

Preparation of our students for the future: Our education system must fully prepare our students for a future after High School, whether is providing the skills for college through challenging curriculum, or providing the technical expertise for skilled jobs.

Substance abuse: We must continually educate our students as to the dangers of substance abuse, a problem that has overcome the youth of our modern society. Not only must we educate, we must identify and address the root cause of dependency with social services for those at risk. Identifying those at risk as early as possible and get help.

Course diversity: Our schools must develop course that not only challenge but, interest our students. We need classes that students want to take. When was the last time we asked the students what topics was are they interested beyond the core requirements?

Wendy Faulenbach*, Republican

Age: 53.

Spouse: Peter.

Children: Matthew, 22, Katie, 20, and Emma, 17.

Occupation: Director of Leisure Services Triad Travel for 33 years.

Number of years as a New Milford resident: 40-plus years.

Education: Graduated from Litchfield High School and Southeastern Academy for tourism.

Past and present political and community experience: Member of the New Milford Board of Education since 2001. Chairman of operations board subcommittee (finance and personnel). Member of the John J. McCarthy Observatory board. Member of the New Milford Turf Field Construction Committee and the New Milford Turf Field Advisory Committee. Member of the New Milford PTO. Grad Party volunteer.

What are the three most important issues facing the town related to the office being sought, and what are your proposed solutions to each?

Preparing students for not only college readiness but also career readiness: Continue the college path through our advanced courses as well as balancing course options for a more career based future. Strengthen our use of college and career advising programs. Provide a capstone program opportunity for students working with our local businesses and community. Offer more community service opportunity for students. We all learn differently and there should be attention to both higher education and life readiness skills. Not all students travel onto college.

Identifying and supporting student increased anxiety and social challenges. There are much higher levels of anxiety and challenges our children are dealing with which is beginning at younger ages: Early intervention is crucial. We need to be offering more support within the schools at earlier grad levels. Anxiety can affect the success of learning as well as trigger other emotional and behavior challenges.

Substance abuse: A comprehensive structured mentor system is one form of support. Ongoing conversations and opportunities to have families speak freely about their concerns with other families, school officials and community leaders to help lessen the stigma. Perhaps structure dialogue opportunities before or after large school or community events with forums to encourage family participation and awareness.

*Signifies candidate is an incumbent.