Walter Bayer, Democrat*

Age: 76.

Occupation: Retired teacher, having taught at Brookfield High School for 38 years.

Number of years as a New Milford resident: 46 years.

Education: Graduated from Notre Dame High School, Southern Connecticut State University with a B.S. and from Fairfield University with a M.A. and a six-year degree. Seven-year graduate student at Louisiana State University. Served in the U.S. Army from 1960-63.

Past and present political and community experience: Four-term member of the Town Council, president of the Greater Candlewood Exchange Club, member of the New Milford Historical Society, the Historic Properties Committee, the Old Boardman Bridge Restoration Committee and the town’s 9/11 Committee and the Loaves and Fishes board of directors, and a lector at St. Francis Xavier Church. Former member and chairman of the Zoning Board of Appeals for 13 years and a past municipal citation officer.

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

Economic development: We need to continue to be aggressive in pursuit of economic development and such through our director and development committee.

Transportation: Pursue a new bridge by current bridge if possible, or an alternate site for an east-west connector.

Education: Always a high priority to maintain quality education through proper funding.

Joseph DeGregorio, petitioning candidate

Age: 36.

Spouse: Alissa.

Children: James, 2, and Stella, 4.

Occupation: Home improvement contractor for 18 years.

Number of years as a New Milford resident: Approximately 10 years.

Education: Graduated from North Salem High School, Naugatuck Valley Community College with an associate’s degree in liberal arts and from Western Connecticut State University with a double major B.B.A. in finance/small business management.

Past and present political and community experience: Member of New Milford Board of Finance.

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

Fiscal responsibility/taxes: We must ensure our viability for years to come. We cannot achieve this by either overspending or bonding away our future. We have currently seen massive amounts of spending on and off budget while bonding necessary capital improvements that could be budgeted for. I would pace our spending to ensure we do not strain our residents and local businesses and I definitely do not want to leverage our town’s future with projects that we can budget for.

Smart growth: Businesses drive residential growth by making our town a more desirable place to live and providing jobs. They also offset residential taxes. For these reasons we want businesses. At the same time our quaint New England feel makes New Milford the wonderful home town we all know and love. As a Council member I would strive to preserve our New England feel while doing my best to help and grow our list of local businesses, big and small. I hope to help usher in businesses that provide subsistence level career oriented opportunities for our residents and work with the town’s planner and economic development team to attract them.

Civility and inclusion: Over the last year our town government has become increasingly hostile. What was once a place of cooperation and collaboration has turned into, at its best, a placating committee of one. One idea, one vision, one way. I hope to be the outsider that bridges the divide and helps facilitate constructive conversation. From this I hope to bring back the voice of the people to our town government by facilitating civility and promoting cooperation. We are not elected to only represent those that vote for us. We represent all the residents of the town. They should be included in every conversation and have a say.

Tom Esposito, Republican*

Age: 54.

Spouse: Maureen.

Children: Tommy, 12, and Olivia, 1.

Occupation: Energy Conservation Building Performance Contractor for seven years. Former mortgage banker and real estate consultant for 25 years.

Number of years as a New Milford resident: 14 years.

Education: Graduated from Canterbury School in New Milford, and studied marketing at Western Connecticut State University and political science at Villanova University.

Past and present political and community experience: Four-term member of New Milford Town Council. Former member of Economic Development Corporation, New Milford Film Commission, Economic Development Corporation subcommittees (farmland preservation and the marketing committee), Plan of Conservation and Development Subcommittee and the MVP-SOS Board of Directors, past chairman of IT Transformation Committee and the Higher Education Initiative Committee, and past youth lacrosse coach and referee.

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

Encourage town residents’ involvement and engagement: Restore civility and respect for all the residents, town employees and community volunteers for an open transparent government.

Jobs and economic development. We must promote the town and its assets to attract new companies and businesses to grow our tax base and provide jobs in town. This is essential for the prosperity of all residents: Reestablish the Economic Development Corporation dismantled by the mayor, and aggressively target regional manufacturers to relocate to New Milford.

Infrastructure improvements and maintenance: Repair all guard rails and remove all the hazardous trees that are endangering our residents, strategic improvements to bottleneck intersections to improve traffic flow and a long term strategy to repair our roads restoration of passenger rail service.

Katy Francis, Republican*

Age: 66.

Spouse: Michael Scofield.

Stepchildren: Kate Boarders and Jonathan Scofield, and their respective children.

Occupation: Retired business consultant, having worked for 40 years, and part-time Greater New Milford Community Impact Coordinator for United Way of Western Connecticut for two years.

Number of years as a New Milford resident: 66.

Education: Graduated from New Milford High School, and attended Lycoming College and Bridgeport Engineering Institute (now Fairfield University).

Past and present political and community experience: Member of New Milford Town Council, having served since 2011, member of New Milford Rotary Club, having joined in 2006 and having served as president from 2012-13. Member and treasurer of New Milford Substance Abuse Prevention Council, and member of the Juvenile Review Panel, the Old Boardman Bridge Committee, the Roger Sherman Chapter Daughters of the American Revolution, the New Milford Historical Society and the New Milford Republican Town Committee. Former member of New Milford Planning Commission, having served from 2003-11 and having served as secretary for four years and vice chairman for two years, former member of New Milford Recycling Sub-committee (2014-16), past chairman of New Milford Tricentennial Committee (2005-08), past member of executive board for the Friends of Sullivan Farm, former member and past president of the FRIENDS of New Milford Library and past board member of St. Francis Xavier Church’s Women’s Guild.

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

Issues need to be handled and decisions made with fact-based information and public input: We should be using taxpayer input for decisions that involve taxpayer dollars. We have methods in-place: short-term committees, sub-committees and town meetings, where residents can make their views heard. A committee may add a few weeks to the decision-making timeline but collaboration is needed to be fair to all. We need to seek outside advice more and ask other towns for input rather than thinking we know best. We can’t always know everything about how to solve every problem ourselves but we should know when it’s time to find help and the tools needed to reach a viable solution. Very few issues need immediate action. It’s our job to be proactive and not make every decision an emergency.

We need to cultivate not alienate our community and civic volunteers: In 2016, I organized the New Milford Volunteer Fest, a bi-annual celebration of just 30 local nonprofit groups. This one-day celebration showed our community the power of volunteers. New Milford volunteer organizations are responsible for over 90,000 hours of service each year. Our civic volunteers, such as those who serve on Town Council, land use boards, commissions and committees put in an additional 7,500 hours each year. These volunteers are the life-blood of our town in every aspect of daily life and they all need to treated with respect. Civic volunteers are handing the processes that keep our town running, we can’t afford to add the monetary value of that work to our budget. We need their input and they need to feel secure in offering opinions that may be at odds with the administration.

All things are possible with compromise and respect: All things are possible with compromise and collaboration brings consensus. Politics and egos need to be checked at the door and those at the table need to listen more, know the facts before speaking and just learn to get along. It is not difficult to disagree and have opposing viewpoints and still maintain a civil demeanor. There has always been a majority party and a minority party and until this year arguments were at a minimum and personal attacks were rare. We need to be discussing the issues and every issue should not be turned into a political rant. We are elected to listen to residents, represent their views and be stewards of town finances. Stereotyping every Democrat or Republican and making every discussion an “us vs. them” is counterproductive. We are all elected by members of both parties and we serve all residents. Let’s leave the politics out of the mix and work as neighbors.

Michael Gold, Republican

Age: 53.

Spouse: Kathy.

Children: Austin, 19, and Ayden, 18.

Occupation: Owner of GeronNursing & Respite Care, Inc. & GeronNursing Registry Northwest, Inc. for 28 years.

Number of years as a New Milford resident: 28 years.

Education: Holds a bachelor of arts degree.

Past and present political and community experience: Honorary Rotarian and has received two Paul Harris Awards, charter member and past chairman of the New Milford Chapter of Triad, member of the New Milford Public Library Modernization Committee, the New Milford Economic Development Commission, the Mid-Western CT Council on Alcoholism board. Member and past president of the Greater New Milford Chamber of Commerce board, member and past president of, and founding member and past chairman of Senior Care Resources of Western CT. Former alternate for New Milford Zoning Commission, past member of the Homemakers and Companion Association board and past founding member of the Care Networking Group.

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

To grow, attract and support small and medium sized businesses in New Milford: Encourage our economic development director and commission to continue to reach out nationally and internationally to attract “good fitting” businesses to our area; we need to continue and promote our town with the resources to help businesses grow and move to town to create a more balanced grand tax list.

Drug issue: Work with and supply the police department, social services and other like-minded groups the necessary resources to educate our children about the drug use and epidemic; to help those that may not be able to help themselves at first. Then give them solid solutions and directions to help them succeed.

Town planning, and transparency regarding John Pettibone School, the Brass Mill site and New Milford Public Library: Understand and provide the public with the exact nature of what is entailed with the refurbishing of the school, the clean-up of the brown field, and the modernization of the library; is this what the public wants? We need public input for a larger growth plan (three to five years); a committee needs to be established for not longer than one year to find out public’s input and put that majority opinion into a working plan.

Lisa Hida, Democrat

Age: 54.

Spouse: Gary.

Occupation: For the past 12 years I have been helping product managers and marketers as well as corporate leaders through leadership and skills development, mentoring, and consulting services, leveraging my prior experience in this area. Specializing in B2B (business to business) Fortune 500 companies across a variety of industries — telecommunications, life science, financial services, oil and gas, as well as hard manufacturing.

Number of years as a New Milford resident: 23 years this December.

Education: Graduated from Mankato High School and Kansas State University with a B.S. in accounting and finance.

Past and present political and community experience: Advisory committee member for the Riverfront Revitalization Committee, member of the Hate Has No Home Here New Milford task force, steering committee member for the Coalition Advocating for a Safe Environment (a citizen advocacy group formed in response to the Panda Power Plant Proposal), and the USEA.

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

Economic Development beyond retail: We need manufacturers and service providers to bring jobs to New Milford. We aren’t going to attract large scale employers like Amazon and the HQ2 project. What we can attract are the companies with 20, 50, or 100 employees. These are high-tech 21st century business sectors, not the manufacturers of the past. We can attract these companies by leveraging resources and the attractive qualities of our town. Resources — land already zoned light industrial or planned as light industrial per our Plan of Conservation and Development. Also the resources we have in our quality of life, community, schools, and environment. Focusing solely on retail jobs doesn’t create a fully sustainable economy or provide a family living wage. Think about a retirement savings account — you don’t put all your money into one category because it is too vulnerable to changes. New Milford’s economy is the same — we need a variety of employers and tax revenue generators so that we can attract young families and withstand economic downturns.

Lack of financial visibility: We need to reinstate monthly financial statement reviews by the finance director as part of routine Town Council and Board of Finance procedure and oversight. This is required by our Town Charter and should be presented in such a manner that the public has access and visibility to all transfers, encumbrances and expenditures as well as variances from budget. Transparency is an overused and misused term. I want our financials visible, easy to access, and include an easy to understand variance analysis report. No business leadership team that I’ve ever been involved in only analyzes its financial data once a year at budget season. Keeping New Milford affordable and on the right financial track starts with disclosing, discussing and managing our revenues and spending as any other business would monthly. That’s why it is required by our Town Charter.

Lack of involving New Milford residents on critical decisions: We need members of our town government to put the taxpayers before their personal agendas and party affiliation. There needs to be more of an active connection to the residents of New Milford and an analytical thought process to opportunities and challenges that present themselves. This requires inclusion rather than exclusion — engaging people to become passionately and personally committed to a decision and a direction they have helped shaped. This requires providing details and presenting alternatives. This requires discussion, not a decree or pressure. A great example of this problem is the current Candlewood Solar power project. This project was voted on with incomplete information, lack of public input and moved quickly to the Siting Council. Judging by comments at the recent Siting Council public hearing, many residents were caught unawares.

John Kane, Democrat*

Age: 66.

Spouse: Wendy Carlson.

Children: Tristan, 20, and James, 19.

Occupation: Photographer for 30 years.

Number of years as a New Milford resident: 37.

Education: Graduated from Cheshire High School, Western Connecticut State University and from USMC communications school.

Past and present political and community experience: Member of New Milford Town Council. Past member of Planning Commission, former volunteer for New Milford Farmland Preservation Committee, past member of Merryall Center for the Arts Board of Directors, past president of Northville Residents’ Association and past member of Hunt Hill Farm advisory board.

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

Smart growth initiatives: Working with planning, zoning and economic development when possible, to bring to town the kind of business and industry that enhances our position as a place where people want to be. CEOs and human resource people from the corporate world are people who look for features like a thriving community center, a river trail, farmers markets, mass transit, well trained and educated work force. All of which I strongly support.

Ethical municipal government. Office holders should not be voting on issues on which they will personally profit: I will work to bring review by the town attorney and adoption by Town Council of the model code of ethics put out by the state of Connecticut, a statewide document. Ethical standards are no different in Ledyard or Enfield than they are in New Milford. It will help to get politics out of the ethics procedure. The ethics commission should not be a punishment but a regular functioning branch of municipal govt, referred to for opinions as needed.

Taxes: This ties in with the first issue. For decades New Milford has been pursuing sprawl as a quick fix for the grand list. The problem with this is manifold. First, it puts a greater demand in general on our budget that it brings in on the grand list. Second, it eats up irreplaceable open space and farm land. I like to think long term and it seems to me if we spend a little now to make our town the right place for beneficial business and industry, we are making a wise investment in the future. I see the John Pettibone Community Center as a good example of that.

Mary Jane Lundgren, Democrat*

Age: 69.

Spouse: Eric Lundgren.

Children: Britt Lundgren and Sancie Stewart.

Occupation: Registered nurse for 48 years. Semi-retired.

Number of years as a New Milford resident: 57 years.

Education: Graduated from New Milford High School, Western Connecticut State University with a B.A. and the University of Connecticut School of Social Work with a master’s degree in social work.

Past and present political and community experience: Eight-term member, currently vice chairman, ofNew Milford Town Council, member of Democratic Town Committee, vice chairman of Northville Residents’ Association, and member of New Milford Substance Abuse Council, New Milford Aging Commission and chairwoman of National Association of Social Worker’s PACE 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?

Balancing fiscal responsibility with the needs of the town: New Milford will be facing a major revenue cut from the state in the very near future. The budget will have to be carefully scrutinized and yet continue to protect our infrastructure, schools and quality of life issues for residents. Sharing services with nearby towns should be explored as a means of saving taxpayer dollars.

Development: Continue to develop a strategic plan for the Century Brass property to bring in light industrial businesses. Continue to develop the bike and walking trail plans along the riverfront. Many towns throughout Connecticut have greatly increased economic dollars for their towns and these trails.

Quality of life issues: Keep the library expansion program moving forward. Continue to improve our roads. Ensure that Social Services and the senior center maintain adequate funding in our budget.

Peter Mullen, Democrat

Age: 61.

Spouse: Jolene Mullen.

Children: Ben, Maggie and Hannah.

Occupation: Dentist for 35 years.

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

Education: Graduated from Xavier High School in New York City, St. Michael’s College with a B.A. and NYU Dental School with a DDS degree.

Past and present political and community experience: 12-year member of the New Milford Parks & Recreation Commission and past Town Council member for eight years.

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

Keeping taxes low: Conscience, deliberate evaluation of the annual budget.

John Pettibone Community Center: Continue the development and use of JPCC.

Promoting New Milford: Making New Milford attractive through riverfront, bike trail, Hidden Treasures Park and more.

Michael Nahom, Republican

Age: 50.

Spouse: Michelle.

Children: Jackson Nahom, 20, Mia Nahom, 18, and Eli Nahom, 16.

Occupation: President of Eastern Connector Specialty Corp. for 24 years. Also, owner of New Milford Fitness & Aquatics Club.

Number of years as a New Milford resident: 24 years.

Education: Graduated from Brookfield High School, the University of Colorado with a B.A. in economics and UCONN with a M.B.A.

Past and present political and community experience: Four-year member of New Milford Planning Commission, having served two years as vice chairman, president of Community Culinary School of Norrthwestern Connecticut, having served on the board for three years, chairman of the Taste of New Milford and track coach of four years at New Milford High School. Former member and treasurer of New Milford Economic Development Corporation for six years, past track coach at Canterbury School for 10 years, past in-house coordinator of four years and travel coordinator of three years for the Soccer Club 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?

Economic development: I was the treasurer of the Economic Development Corporation. The corporation was a quasi-government entity that had more flexibility to work on projects than the town government did. Because of that flexibility, we could get things accomplished more quickly. Our group was made up of local businessmen that had a wealth of knowledge. I would like to get the Economic Development Corporation going again after a two-year hiatus. I also think we need to reduce the cost/burden for business in town. Since New Milford is not easy to commute out of town, we need to create jobs here in New Milford. To attract business, we need to reduce costs (sewer, taxes, etc.) and streamline the process to get businesses open. New Milford needs to become the economic driver for the region so we can attract businesses & create jobs.

Cost of living: New Milford used to be the low-cost alternative to the surrounding towns. Couple that with our beautiful downtown and outdoor activities, it attracted a lot of people to live here. Now we are not less expensive to live, and it is one of the reasons our home values are declining. Along with improving economic development to increase our tax base (issue one), we need to reduce the cost to run this town. We need to review processes in town departments to see if programs can be consolidated and streamlined to save money. We also need to partner with the private sector to see where partnerships can save money. I also get a lot of members of the community giving me great advice on ways to save. Maybe a cost saving committee would help us to lower expenses.

Partisan politics: I will vote for what is best for my town. These past two years, the Democrats on the town council voted in unison with the mayor on every issue except one (solar farm). It is hard to imagine these individuals agreeing 99 percent of the time, but I guess they did. I have already told my party that I will vote what is best for New Milford, not what the party thinks is best. While in the majority on the Planning Commission, I encouraged my fellow Republicans to vote for a Democrat as the chairman as I felt he was the best person for the job.

Jessica Richardson, Democrat*

Age: 29.

Occupation: Attorney for three years.

Number of years as a New Milford resident: 29 years.

Education: Graduated from New Milford High School, Western Connecticut State University with a degree in justice and law administration with a minor in psychology and from New York Law School with a juris doctor.

Past and present political and community experience: Member of New Milford Town Council, Personnel Code Committee, New Milford Democratic Town Committee and Platform 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?

Growing economic development: Now that we are more than 100 days without a budget, financial concerns are at the forefront of many towns’ concerns. Economic development is key to ensure the growth of a town. First, a sports complex. In a recent HBO special it was found that youth sports is a $9 billion industry. Developing a sports complex in New Milford can go a long way in bringing in sports tourism in the way of travel teams and AAU tournaments for all sports. Second, a riverfront/bike trail. On my way home I pass the new riverfront across from Young’s Field. I was amazed to see over the summer how many people were using the new walkway and out on the river in kayaks, canoes, and on paddle-boards. I believe the completion of the bike trail will bring more visitors to our town with a plan in place to direct people to our downtown area.

JPS Community Center: The old John Pettitbone School has been an issue for the town since it was proposed to be closed prior to the previous election. After Mayor David Gronbach was elected two years ago he has been working to turn JPS into a community center. The community center had its grand opening this past September and since then Parks & Recreation Department and the Youth Agency has moved into their space soon to be followed by Social Services and hopefully the Culinary School. At a recent Town Council meeting I was told that the culinary school provides thousands of meals to families in our area and have already begun raising funds so that they could be able to move into the community center which will increase the number of classes and programs they could provide. I would hope that we could come together over the next few years to support our town agencies and foster the growth at JPS. I would hope that any committee put in place focused on improving services at JPS community center and adding programs in the building. In light of the new sports complex committee I would hope both could work together to come up with solutions for the town.

Lack of bipartisan politics: I am not a partisan politician. I am a public servant. My goal and hopes when running for Town Council was to do what was best for this town regardless of whose idea, Democrat or Republican. I believe the sweeping changes of the past election and the rising tension in politics on the national stage has caused our town politics to spiral into the chaotic. I believe that we need to hit a reset button with this new election. Be open to the ideas of others. Not allow ourselves to dig in when it comes to our own opinions and ideas. Focus on the facts. I will work to be more communicative with my fellow town council members but with individuals making presentations to our town. I will seek out the facts myself so that I can make the most informed decision. I do recognize that my decisions may not please everyone but I can assure you that as a lifetime resident of this town I try to do what is best for the town.

Michael Sennello, Libertarian

Age: 31.

Occupation: Superintendent and head groundskeeper of New Milford Center Cemetery — promoted to position three and a half years ago; full-time employee for five-plus years; part-time employee prior to that.

Number of years as a New Milford resident: 31 years, less a brief hiatus from 2009-2012.

Education: Graduated from New Milford High School and from Binghamton University (SUNY Binghamton) with a B.S. in management.

Past and present political and community experience: Works with town officials due to the close and symbiotic relationship between the New Milford Center Cemetery and the town. Leads the cemetery’s budget development team that puts together the annual request and presentation to the town, as well as works with Public Works, tree warden, Board of Finance and others on various issues. Completed Eagle Scout project in 2003, producing four large storage units for the local playing fields at John Pettibone School, Baldwin Park and at Carlson’s Grove.

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

Value judgment: Lead by example. Although this is not the most important issue facing the town today, the question refers to the significance of an issue as it relates to the Town Council. Value judgment is knowing how to best decide whether an idea, endeavor, or thing is good or bad, often relatively speaking. The reason this is so important to this position is because the council handles almost all of its issues on an ad hoc basis, and failures to avoid logical fallacies (i.e. appeals to emotion, arguments from authority, arguments from ignorance, the broken window fallacy, and — as seen most recently — argumentum ad hominem) in making determinations leads almost universally to poor conclusions.

The way to stop this is to take the first step and lead by example, and rely on tools such as Occam’s razor, Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, and Russell’s Teapot to create lucid arguments from which we might draw rational conclusions to the specific issues we might face: Should the town continue to carry employees of The Children’s Center on its health insurance policy? Should we allow the sale of town property to Panda Energy to allow them to build a 550MW natural gas plant? What should we do with JPS? How we develop our answers to these questions is absolutely paramount to the councilman position, because that will determine what our answers will be. We need to show that we can follow the trail of logic toward our conclusions, and the best way to do that is to lead by example and call out those that fall into the trap of the logical fallacy.

The development of industry: Get out of industry’s way. This is the most important issue this town has and will continue to face. Contrary to what many have said in public comment, the single greatest influence on human migration in the U.S. today is — by far — the availability of quality employment, and the most effective way to ensure that is still through the growth and development of industry. This is why places like Fargo — an otherwise desolate and climatically miserable place to live — have seen explosive population growth this and the last several decades. Fargo’s community has gotten out of the way of industrial growth and, in doing so, cultivated a hotbed of employment opportunity; no one would live there otherwise.

Our community’s refusal to get out of the way of the development of industry in the area is why New Milford — for decades the fastest growing town in Connecticut — actually saw its population decline recently as people run away from this state and especially Litchfield County. If we’re not going to allow industry to develop in our area, we must support measures to get people to industry quickly. This means commuter rail, and Stamford is a shining example of how a city with little industry within a state that is seeing unprecedented emigration can succeed so long as its mass transit is exceptional.

This means meeting with state and HRA officials to find out what their threshold for investment would be for the extension of commuter rail service to New Milford (estimated at $450 million in total costs from their 2016 report on the matter) and attempting to generate the difference between the threshold for investment and the total project cost from private-sector, voluntary contributions, grants, donations, etc. I think we can achieve that threshold. I think we can do it without leveraging the taxpayer through governmental force, and I think having the “Councilman” title will allow me to get the proverbial “foot-in-the-door” to meet with authorities to determine the threshold for investment.

The budget: The rice-and-beans diet. The true long-term solution is to advance the development of industry — businesses that will pay a fortune in property taxes (revenue), and create high paying jobs for residents who will then both pay taxes directly to the town and secondarily through engaging with local commerce, all without substantial increases in infrastructure needs (expenses). This is the true long-term solution to our sewer fee collection problem as well, as it will mean a broadening of the fee collection base.

In the meantime, however, we need to only pay for what we can afford, just like all of us would do when we know we are in dire financial straits: we all want Maseratis, but we can’t afford them, so we don’t buy them. We have genuine reason to believe state aid will be all but eliminated in the coming budget cycle; let’s build a budget that doesn’t rely on state aid. One way to do this is to tell all departments — even the Board of Education —to cut the proverbial fat, and I mean all of it, and to start looking to see if devolving power to the private sector would create positive equity. A good, general rule of thumb is that anything the private and public sector can both do can be done by the private sector better, cheaper, and faster. This is why we need to perform a cost-benefit-analysis to determine if things like plowing, mowing, asphalt patching, etc. can be done with equal quality and speed at a lower cost if contracted to the private sector. It also means not creating any new, unnecessary positions.

Most importantly, it means actually adhering to our budget, not creating unnecessary spending off-budget, and not using equity funds as personal slush funds to support off-budget endeavors. A well-developed budget that is not adhered to is just as bad as a poorly-developed budget; in fact, if we’re not going to adhere to our budget, we might as well not waste time developing one. It also means holding those who do accountable and holding their proverbial feet to the fire when they do by calling them out, but, most importantly, it means taking the first step and leading by example. If we don’t do all the things I’ve proposed, it will mean we’ll be forced to raise taxes sharply, which will force small businesses close up shop, large businesses to move out of town, and will hollow out the middle class in a vicious cycle that will inevitably lead us down the highway to becoming a ghost town.

Douglas Skelly, Republican

Age: 53.

Spouse: Patricia Skelly.

Children: Stephanie, 21, and Hunter, 16.

Occupation: Self-employed (carpet cleaner) for 28 years.

Number of years as a New Milford resident: 25 years.

Education: Graduated from Henry Abbott Technical School in Danbury.

Past and present political and community experience: President of Cedarknolls Homeowners Association and member of New Milford Parks & Recreation Commission. Former member of Turf Committee and Turf Study 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?

Look to find a permanent home on town property for youth and adult sports: Search for town-owned or private land purchase for complex.

Roads: Long-term plan on repairing roads.

Investing for the future: Look into investing Waste Management funds.

Paul Szymanski, Republican*

Age: 39.

Spouse: Heather.

Children: Jackson, 2.

Occupation: President of Arthur H. Howland & Associates, P.C., Civil Engineers & Land Surveyors for 12 years.

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

Education: Graduated from Shepaug Valley High School in Washington and from the University of Connecticut with a B.S. in civil engineering.

Past and present political and community experience: Member of New Milford Town Council, volunteer who designed engineering plans and approvals at no cost for Lynn Deming Park improvements, president of Lawrence Richter Foundation, member of the board of directors for Spaghetti Arms, which was founded to raise awareness of Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, and member of board and past president of Candlewood Trails Association.

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

Lack of civility and respect in town government: The new administration that will be formed by your votes Nov. 7 needs to immediately demonstrate, through their actions, that the lack of civility and respect that has been allowed to occur the last two years is unacceptable. I will ask that each elected councilperson and the mayor take a pledge to allow civil discourse, not raise their voices and to respect each and every opinion that is given. Currently, under the current administration, this does not occur. This has led to several volunteers not giving their valued time and talent to move New Milford forward, which is unacceptable.

Inform the community of issues facing our town: It is still astounding to me that the general taxpayer/voter is unaware of the multitude of issues facing this town. To that end, Katy Francis and I started a page, New Milford Town Council Happenings, on Facebook where the public can see what is happening at the Town Council level and interaction is encouraged. The page has already led to the council rethinking a few proposals due to the wonderful input of the town taxpayers. My door is always open (143 West Street, Suite E at the Bleachery) and I want to work cooperatively with all of the residents in town to make New Milford the best it can be.

Lack of promotion of New Milford: Unfortunately, most recently I have seen people complain about the negatives in New Milford instead of letting everyone know about the positives. If you complain about an issue I fully expect you to assist with finding a solution. That is the only way we will move forward as a town, with your help. Why are we not shouting from the rooftops about this great town? We offer all kinds of residential housing, whether it be high density residential in close proximity to the hustle and bustle of the downtown to bucolic large acreage properties in the rural part of town. Speaking of downtown, look at how much that has improved over the last 10 years. It is something to be proud of. Look at the increases in recreational opportunities that have occurred. From the archery range, to the added parks, to the recently renovated Lynn Deming Park to the reconstruction of sports fields we are making progress. Let’s get the word out to our friends and businesses who aren’t aware of us to help make us an even better town than we already are.

Frank Wargo, Democrat*

Age: 74.

Spouse: Priscilla.

Children: Todd and Scott.

Occupation: Retired following a 40-year career.

Number of years as a New Milford resident: 45 years.

Education: Graduated from Southern Connecticut State University with a B.S. degree and Southern Illinois University with a M.S. degree and holds six-year degree from Southern Connecticut State University.

Past and present political and community experience: 12-term member of New Milford Town Council and nine-year chairman of Economic Development Commission. Former member of Zoning Board of Appeals, first Charter Revision Committee and Board of Education, and past chairman of Planning 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?

We need a comprehensive plan for redoing our road system.

We need to attract more commercial growth to balance the tax burden on our taxpayers.

We need to develop a plan to improve our riverfront with the downtown.

*Signifies candidate is an incumbent.