Candidates For Cheshire Town Council

Candidates For Cheshire Town Council


 First District

 

David Veleber

(Republican*)

Age: 50

Family: Spouse:  Melissa (Panagrossi) Veleber. Children: Caroline, Maddie, Letty, and Natalie.

Occupation: Attorney, Connecticut Attorneys Title Insurance Company (CATIC)

Relevant Experience: Town Council, 1st District (2017–present); Planning & Zoning Commission (2007– 2009 and 2015–2017); Zoning Board Appeals (2002– 2007)

Reason for Running: I have lived in Cheshire for over 40 years. My wife and I are raising our four daughters here. I want Cheshire to continue to be a wonderful place to raise a family, as well as a place where seniors can continue to live and businesses desire to operate.

We need to continue to make smart choices about spending to protect property values and help keep Cheshire attractive to all residents and businesses while maintaining important services for the youth, adults, parents, and seniors. We also need to continue to modernize our schools in a fiscally prudent and responsible manner and attract more quality economic development to town. It has been my privilege and honor to serve the residents of the First District and I ask for your continued support.

Most Important Issue to You: It is important that we continue to remain diligent regarding minimizing the tax burden on our residents. This includes continuing to make smart choices about spending to protect property values and help keep Cheshire attractive to all residents and businesses while maintaining important services for the youth, adults, parents, and seniors. In the past two years, the Town Council has worked hard and collaboratively to provide for budgets which fund the needed services of the town while also keeping the mill rate increases low. This helps to provide stability and good fiscal management for all taxpayers, both individuals and businesses, and has allowed the town to maintain a AAA bond rating and successfully navigate through a pandemic.

I will continue to be dedicated to keeping a balance of living within our means but planning for our future. In order to help with taxes, we need to continue to seek ways to help provide for increased quality economic development in Cheshire. The Town Council has worked hard over the years to implement strategies to keep businesses in Cheshire and encourage businesses to start up here. We need to continue to make Cheshire a place that businesses want to do business so that we can continue to grow our Grand List and to look at areas of town for that growth. The 691 interchange zone is a good starting place, but we need to look at other locations, including the West Main Street village area and, especially, in and around the town center.

 

Carol Doheny

(Democrat)

Age: 61

Occupation: Self-employed Tax Preparer

Family: Spouse: Jimmy. Children: Son Jamie, daughters Maureen and Siobhan

Relevant Experience: Owners of a tax preparation business in town; Zoning Board of Appeals (secretary); Youth Services Committee

Reason for Running: I believe our town government would benefit from fresh perspectives, transparency, inclusion, and diversity. It’s important to listen to each other, and to all our residents. I truly enjoy hearing about constituents’ concerns. Politics has become divisive lately, and I want to help fix that. My diverse experience ranges from teaching, to serving on PTAs, to being vice president of a nonprofit organization. It includes running a consignment shop, managing a painting contracting business, serving on town commissions, and starting my tax business. This wide-ranging background has given me the skills and understanding needed to work with a variety of people. Now that I’m self- employed, I have the time to fully commit to being a member of the Council, so when I was asked to run, I said yes!

Most Important Issue to You: Town Council should work more effectively to identify environmentally and fiscally responsible solutions. Given large investments and long timelines needed to modernize our schools, this is important now, and to our town’s future financial health.

We’ve seen what happens when our town chooses the cheapest bid, uses out-of-state companies, or doesn’t hire general contractors who know state labor laws. Initially, the town pool had to be redone to meet ADA requirements. Later, with the new roof, the Department of Labor investigated violations of rules about prevailing wage rates, and we incurred still more costs. These problems could have been avoided with environmentally and fiscally responsible methods of evaluating bids. I don’t want similar problems with our school projects. It would be easy to hire what looks cheapest, but that wouldn’t get the work done right, or keep the money in the local economy, or reduce our long-term costs.

One solution is to utilize Project Labor Agreements (PLAs) for our building projects. PLAs specify percentages for hiring local residents, minorities, women, veterans and apprentices, controlling our costs and ensuring appropriate expertise. PLAs avoid the fiscal and environmental costs of travel, while supporting the local economy, which is why my candidacy is endorsed by the New Haven and CT State Building Trades Councils. PLAs will allow us to get schools built right the first time, and within budget. We would hire local people, support the local economy, and build green — which will produce savings on electricity costs for years to come.

 

Second District

 

Jim Jinks

(Democrat*)

Age: 50

Occupation: Vice President, Mediabids.

Family: Spouse: Marie Jinks. Children: Grace, Maggie, Ellie and Henry.

Relevant Experience: Second District Town Councilor (2019–present); School Modernization Committee; Planning & Zoning Commission (2015-2017)

Reason for Running:  I’ve spent a lot of time talking to voters and the three areas of concern or interest I hear the most are our schools, our streets; and our parks/open spaces. I’m invested in keeping up the momentum toward school modernization. I’ve spent a lot of time over the past year working with my fellow School Modernization Committee (SMC) members, BOE members and Town Councilors on a plan for updating our school facilities. It will be a big, ongoing issue for many years and we need people involved that know the issue inside and out. The safety of our streets and neighborhoods is also an important public safety issue for me and most voters. I’ve enjoyed working with our Public Safety Commission (as their Council liaison.) The Commission has a renewed commitment focused on safe streets. I’m also eager to continue to make targeted investments in our parks and open space. This is important to our property values and quality of life. We’re headed in a good direction on this front.

Most Important Issue to You: In addition to the schools, safer streets and continuing to improve our parks and open space, a really important issue for me (and voters) is communication. We hold meetings that are open to the public (or they can watch remotely) and our meetings have written minutes (very good minutes at that.) But our meetings and minutes have proven to fall short of engaging the broader public.

Regarding school modernization, over the past year I’ve heard pretty much exclusively from residents about their preference for the 6-8 middle school option. Nearly all the emails sent to the Council re: school modernization have been in support of the 6-8 middle school option. But ultimately the amount of feedback has been pretty limited and uncomfortably one-sided. Yet, the Council has been focused on moving forward the two elementary school option (scenario 6.) From my point of view, there seemed to be a disconnect. Therefore I put together a Google Doc survey that laid out the particulars of the two first-phase options, asked fact-based questions, posted it in social media and sent it to residents (and asked them to forward it to friends.) As a result, I was able to collect over 300 responses in a few weeks and I now have a very good sense of where the public is on the issue and many survey recipients thanked me for providing them an informative survey.

My point to this story is that to better communicate (and to be more transparent and responsive), elected leaders need to go where the voters are and in ways voters can engage, that are convenient to voters. In other words, we need to practice proactive transparency. This is the state of play now and as elected leaders we need to change with the times to better serve our constituents and community. 

 

 

Nicole Davison

(Republican)

Age: 48

Occupation: Career Counselor and Coach

Family: Married, one son

Relevant Experience: Small Business Owner in Town, NMD Career Consulting, LLC; Cheshire’s Lights of Hope Street Captain for 8 years; Active school and community volunteer

Reason for Running: My motivation to run for Town Council is not about politics. It is about public service. I wanted to volunteer my time to help bring our community together with positivity and flexibility by listening to all perspectives. Collaboration creates progress. We moved here because of the strong reputation of the schools, lower taxes, and the overall management of the town. I would like to see our town continue to prosper and grow. I want to ensure our taxes remain competitive and sustainable, our schools are improved efficiently and continue to offer quality award winning education. I want to help continue to attract businesses to our community and make sound decisions enhancing public safety while supporting the infrastructure and services to secure it.

Most Important Issue to You: The most important issue to me is electing leaders that focus on local issues that affect our community … not politics and not a national agenda. I learned last year how much of an impact the decisions our elected officials make could have on our everyday lives. I feel the political rhetoric on the national stage has made its way into local communities and caused a division that I find to be really unfortunate. We must work together as a team to make decisions that positively impact everyone that lives and works here. Without a motivated and engaged team that can work collaboratively, we will be unable to function effectively. My political aspirations stop here. In Cheshire. I love this town, and I want to keep it thriving.

 

Third District

 

Don Walsh

(Republican*)

Age: 61

Occupation: Owner of DW Gem Services. LLC in Cheshire

Relevant Experience: Founder and President of Cheshire’s Lights of Hope; Alternate on the Cheshire Planning and Zoning Commission; Town Council, 2019–Present

Family: Spouse: Jenifer. Children: Daughter Cara and a son, Patrick,

Reason for Running: I feel that this Council has done a tremendous job these past two years. We were forced to govern in different ways, including having Zoom meetings, but we didn’t slow down and in some ways became more efficient.

I am very passionate about this town and I feel my experience and knowledge is extremely important to help us continue to move forward. There is still some unfinished business to do, especially with school modernization. I want to be part of the decision making on what will go to referendum. I also want to follow through with the creation of the new Bartlem Park and see the north end begin to get developed.

We will be dealing with many large capital projects in the coming years and we need people who understand the financial impact these can have on this community. We must keep this town affordable for all while continuing to move forward. I feel I am the best choice.

Most Important Issue to You: COVID made these past two years extremely difficult for the Town Council, but I am proud of our accomplishments. We kept the mill rate level in 2020, which is something I am extremely proud of. As a member of the School Modernization Committee, we delivered a thorough and well vetted modernization plan to the Council. As the chairman of the Solid Waste Committee, we brought back the Bulky Trash pickup. We purchased an additional 45 acres of open space and approved sending a referendum to create a new and exciting Bartlem Park that will be useful to people of all ages.

While this town is facing a lot of important issues, I believe the one that is on everyone’s mind is school modernization. This will be the largest capital investment we have ever done.

My experience as a member of the School Modernization Committee is important to help the Council navigate through a lot of the information we have before us. We must make sure we are giving the residents and businesses in town accurate information. There is too much misinformation being passed around. We have to be concise and together with a plan where the costs are well defined or it will fail.

The businesses and residents of Cheshire must know what it will cost them out of their pocket and what they will get for it. We must remember it will be the voters who will make the decision on this project; we just need to make sure they understand what they are getting for their money.

 

Karen Schnitzer

(Democrat)

Age: 65

Occupation: Retired Administrative Assistant, Yale University School of Medicine, Section of Nephrology

Relevant Experience: Executive Boards (Cheshire Land Trust, Coalition for a Sustainable Cheshire); Committees dedicated to environmental projects (native habitat restoration and public awareness campaigns focused on litter and water pollution)

Reason for Running: I am running for Town Council because I do not see enough attention being given to environmental issues here in Cheshire. Thorough consideration should be given to the local issues of air and water pollution, to the care and accessibility of town lands and open space, the management of forests and town land with regard to non-native, invasive plants and their removal; the impacts on diversity of wildlife and plant populations by development, along with waste management and recycling alternatives that can improve our environment and benefit our budgets.

Most Important Issue to You: I believe that all too often, decisions are made without regard to how they affect the environment around us, and how that affects the quality of our lives. Climate change is real and it affects all of us.

Reducing our overall carbon footprint benefits us and our children. We can increase the livability of Cheshire with a forward-thinking, people-focused environmental platform.

 

Fourth District

 

Peter Talbot
(Democrat*)

Age: 65

Occupation: Government Affairs Manager, Cox Communications (35 years)

Family: Spouse: Carol. Children: Lauren and Lindsay (dog Chloe)

Relevant Experience: Cheshire Town Council 4th District (2011–2021); Cheshire Board of Education (2010–2011); Cheshire Chamber of Commerce President (2005–2006)

Reason for Running: I am a lifelong Cheshire resident who has always lived in the south end. From an early age it was instilled in me to give back and I have placed a premium on community service for over 20 years. I live here, I raised my children here, and I have a vested interest in seeing Cheshire grow and prosper. I want our schools to be the best they can be, but it’s also very important to see businesses flourish and for our seniors to remain in there homes. Cheshire must remain affordable and to do that we need to focus on economic development and grand list growth. I bring experience, financial knowledge and business acumen to the table. I will continue to work hard for Cheshire and especially for the residents.

Most Important Issue to You: The most important issue we face is the modernization of our schools: That’s priority number one. In order to do that, priority 1A needs to be economic development and grand list growth. It is the means to our end. It is the way we can spread the cost of school modernization around so that it doesn’t drive seniors from their homes and make Cheshire unaffordable. That is why I have asked Town Manager Sean Kimball to give a monthly economic development report at our Town Council meetings. It is crucial that this Council and future Councils maintain a laser focus on smart growth. It’s how we’ll be able to move forward together.

 

Lauren A. Miele

(Republican)

Age: 34

Occupation: Board of Education, CSDNB- Curriculum Information, former elementary school teacher

Family: Spouse: Melissa Dog: Jett

Relevant Experience: Cheshire Public Safety Commissioner, present; Republican Town Committee, present; Advanced degrees in Educational Administration including Leadership, Law & Finance

Reason for Running: My candidacy came about from a commitment to and enthusiasm for maintaining the quality of life and stewarding positive growth for Cheshire residents. I feel I represent a broad demographic being a young, well-educated, professional, ambitious female who happens to be married to a woman yet champions fiscally conservative and socially moderate ideals. In the face of polarizing times and politics, I aim to break barriers, dismantle stereotypes and bring Americans back together, stronger than ever by starting here, in my own small corner of the world. I know I will serve, represent and be the voice of every 4th District citizen. Most importantly, I am interested in the work of the Council — serving constituents and collaborating in a bipartisan way to find solutions through budget and policy.

Your vote of confidence allows me to preserve, promote and protect Cheshire and leave it better than I found it for future generations!

Most Important Issue to You: Prior to speaking to hundreds of households while canvassing, I would have said my most important issue was public safety due to my work on and intimate knowledge of the Public Safety Commission. We’ve all seen the headlines and heard of the incidents such as car thefts and break-ins. Unfortunately, many of our challenges in that area are a result of action or inaction at the legislative level. A local issue where I can affect change by serving on the Council and that countless constituents have discussed with me is, unequivocally, keeping Cheshire an affordable community to live, work and do business. The truth is we need investments to remain competitive such as with schools, public spaces, roads, etc. They simply need to be strategic. We have seniors, veterans and other folks on fixed incomes. Managing our finances but still maintaining our quality of life and services in a way that allows us to invest without burdening our taxpayers is extremely important to me.

At-Large Candidates

David Borowy

(Republican*)

Age: 59

Occupation: District Manager for Jackson Hewitt covering southern New England

Family: Spouse: Stephanie Hamed. Children: Matt (28), Peter (25), Andrew (19)

Relevant Experience: Town Council (1985–2001, 2019–present); Member of the Regional Water Authority board; Former business owner of Alpine Ski Works

Reason for Running: I believe my experiences on the Town Council and working with various organizations in our community help to bring people together in a collaborative way to move our great town forward. We have brought in many new businesses and encouraged others to stay and expand, improved our parks, settled fair contracts with our Town employees, weathered COVID while helping our citizens most in need, strongly supported our schools in the operating budget and vetting our School Modernization plans to be the best educationally, financially and operationally. These were done while working together with all stakeholders that included a range of opinions with the goal of structuring the best plan for Cheshire and our students.

As a Council member I have always sought the public’s opinion and I will use my experiences of 20 years as a business owner and elected official to advocate for policies that best serve all of Cheshire.

Most Important Issue to You: Cheshire’s most important and far-reaching issue is the modernization of our school buildings and facilities. The last major upgrade of our school facilities was a generation ago and it is time to bring them up to today’s standard. The cost will be significant, but the Town Council and Board of Education are vetting the financial information to find offsets to the cost. Three main offsets to save local tax dollars are part of the equation — grants from the state covering approximately one third of the cost; capital costs avoided for repairs that are now going to be covered by the construction of new and/or remodeled buildings that we would otherwise have to spend on our old buildings; and operational cost savings by consolidating our four oldest schools into two new buildings that will save from efficiencies of the new buildings and consolidation of management and maintenance staff.

While these three areas of cost savings brought about by the new schools envisioned in the plan we are vetting are significant, there still will be added debt service larger than the savings. The Town Council did prioritize the latest 5-year Capital Plan by paring down various department requests and spreading out multiyear projects to ‘clear the deck’ and leave room for the modernization plan in our capital spending.

The benefits to our community of modernizing our schools and preparing for the expanding student population are sometimes obvious, such as a better learning environment. But other benefits are higher property values. When seniors decide to sell their mutli-bedroom homes, they likely will be sold for a higher value to a family moving to Cheshire if our schools maintain our great reputation.

 

A. Fiona Pearson

(Democrat)

Age: 55

Occupation: Professor and Chair - Sociology, CCSU

Family: Spouse: Scott Ellis; Children: Seneca Ellis, Danielle Ellis

Relevant Experience: Executive Director & Co-Chair  – Coalition for a Sustainable Cheshire, Inc.; Parks and Recreation Commission; Sustainability Team

Reason for Running: I am running for Town Council because we have several significant changes coming to Cheshire over the next decade that address issues that have been neglected for far too long — I am the kind of leader who welcomes that challenge.  Our schooling infrastructure is quite literally crumbling — although not everyone agrees on the exact path forward, we all agree that this issue, which has been ignored for decades, must be dealt with as soon as possible. We have parks and open spaces that are beautiful and possess incredible potential, but we need a comprehensive plan to affordably invest in and maintain those green spaces. Additionally, we need to reimagine our town’s future infrastructure — we want to preserve Cheshire’s unique history, while also ensuring that our roads, municipal buildings, and energy resources are sustainable.  I truly believe that a sustainable future that preserves the beauty of our town is possible when grounded in creativity and collaboration. 

Most Important Issue to You: In one sentence, my priority is to preserve our town’s history, while moving Cheshire sustainably into the future. For example, the historic Humiston building was constructed in 1912 and currently houses our alternative high school and Superintendent’s offices. The School Modernization Committee has determined that neither of those current educational needs are best housed in that building. Yet, we cannot abandon such historic structures. As a result, we need to create a comprehensive, long-term strategic plan that addresses both the future of such historical spaces in addition to our functional municipal and schooling needs. Respectful collaboration is necessary to attain such goals. A lot of folks talk about building bridges and collectively seeking common goals. I lead by example. Over the past two years, even in the midst of a world-wide pandemic, I worked with diverse folks to incorporate a local non-profit, Coalition for a Sustainable Cheshire, that has successfully brought together individuals, other non-profits, and businesses to address our common interests in advocating for sustainable solutions while maintaining quality of life in our town. Many of us either grew up in Cheshire and stayed or moved here because we together value the schools, apple orchards, and affordability. We stay here because we appreciate the history and small-town culture. However, most of us also recognize that to remain sustainable, we must adapt. I am prepared for that post-pandemic challenge.

 

Chuck Neth

(Democrat)

Age: 39

Occupation: Civil Engineer

Family: Spouse: Lauren (Bowman). Children: Raleigh (8), Reese (7) and Avery (4)

Relevant Experience: School Modernization Committee (Acting Chair)

Reason for Running: I am running to bring a level-headed approach and civility back to our local politics through active listening, compromise that results in action, and common sense solutions to common problems. At the national and local level there has been a large divide created by political extremism in both parties; I represent a group of residents that are in the middle — I am able hear both sides and make educated decisions that rely on facts, not favor.

As a professional engineer, I work every day to find simple solutions to complex problems. As a Town Councilor, I will take the same analytical, deliberate, and results-oriented approach to address the challenges facing the Town of Cheshire.

Professional, capable and dedicated — I look forward to serving the people of Cheshire as a Town Councilor.

Most Important Issue to You: Two issues represent what I believe are the most important for Cheshire in this election cycle: School modernization and economic development. Neither is going to be accomplished in-full over the next two years, however it is critically important that the groundwork be laid and visible progress made on both fronts.

One of the things that makes Cheshire great, and the reason that many young families move here, is the school system. I have worked for the last two years on the School Modernization Committee and it is clearly evident to me that the teachers and staff are what make our school system great, not the facilities. There are vast physical needs at each of the school buildings and they must be addressed by a holistic plan that will touch each of the schools over the course of its implementation. At a minimum, the school modernization plan should consider enrollment and educational needs, flexibility to accommodate for further growth, and the financial impact on all of the tax payers in this town — young families, empty nesters, elderly couples and the businesses with whom the largest tax burden lies and whose flight would hurt residents the most.

The rural character of our town is another quality that makes Cheshire great, and it must be maintained by smart, economic growth. Economic development should be targeted in the walkable areas of town, but not to the detriment of travelling along either of the arterial state routes. We must also be mindful of protecting open spaces, preserving air and water quality, and promoting places of passive recreation.

 

John Milone

(Republican)

Age: 70

Occupation: Licensed Professional Civil Engineer

Family: Fiancée: Sheila Fiordelisi. Children: Four, all raised in Cheshire

Relevant Experience: Co-founder and past President of Milone & MacBroom, Inc. (MMI); in 2020, merged MMI into SLR International Corporation; serve as U.S. Sector Leader – Built Environment

Reason for Running: Having lived in town for 35 years, raised four children here, and built a substantial Cheshire-based business (of which many of the employees are town residents), I am committed to the community. I have led my professional life giving back. This has included extensive pro bono design and engineering work, contributing to a range of community organizations and initiatives, serving on the Cheshire Chamber of Commerce board, and serving as a board member and board president of a Waterbury-based Family Services Agency. At this time, I believe I have the leadership and business skills as well as the life experience to bring unique value to the town as a member of our Town Council. This includes extensive experience on numerous school facilities planning and construction projects throughout Connecticut, which will ensure an efficient and cost-effective school modernization process.

Most Important Issue to You: When one has a responsibility to lead and manage a community it is difficult to define one issue as being most important. While some issues or initiatives may be more costly or pressing than others, every aspect of community governance must be considered carefully.

My priorities begin with public safety, which I believe to be a primary responsibility of government. We have many talented and conscientious police, fire, emergency, and public works personnel who protect our well-being every day. We must continue to fully support these departments and their personnel.

Proper fiscal management is critical to the continued success of our town. We must always strive to maintain the important balance between providing quality services and minimizing the tax burden on our residents. I will bring 36 years of business leadership and financial oversight to our budget process.

Obviously, our school modernization will be a major focus over the next few years. We will need to have a sustained, comprehensive, and cost-effective plan to bring all our schools up to appropriate standards. This process needs to be managed properly and carefully so we provide our residents the most value for this substantial investment.

Lastly, we must maintain a strong economic development program. This begins with demonstrating support and appreciation for our existing businesses that will serve as ambassadors to new entities and focusing on attracting new businesses to town through outreach and appropriate incentives. Enhanced economic development and associated revenue will offset the anticipated investments in our school facilities.

 

Jennifer Dillon

(Democrat)

Age: 36

Occupation: Educator – Sustainability Coordinator and Chair History and Social Science Department at Cheshire Academy 

Relevant Experience: Have worked with CEOs of multinational corporations; Sat on the Board of Directors of an international corporation; Teacher of Economics

Reason for Running: I am running to bring more diverse representation to the Town Council. While census data shows that Cheshire is 46% female, only two of nine or, 22%, of Council people are women. Further, as a young professional in a community that needs to reach out to young people and young families, I believe it’s important for all ages to be represented within municipal government. Representation isn’t just a buzz word; it truly matters to the wellbeing of all community members. If elected, I plan to bring government to residents in new and innovative ways that increase both transparency and participation.  

Most Important Issue to You: There are so many important issues facing Cheshire, but they can all come together under the umbrella of 21st century vision. The question of whether our elected leaders have 21st century vision should be top of mind for each and every voter.

By 21st century vision I mean are we planning for livability and sustainability? Is our community marketing itself as an inclusive and welcoming community?

If we can say yes to these questions then Cheshire can best market itself to innovative companies and small business that bring high paying jobs and grow our grand list. If we answer yes, then we will construct modern schools that allow for collaborative learning and attract young families. If we answer yes, we are keeping our budget in check by exploring waste diversion options and making commitments to solar and electrification for municipal buildings.  If we answer yes, we are maintaining and expanding parks, trails and bike paths that are safe and accessible for all residents.

I want Cheshire to be able to answer yes to each of these questions and implement policy that thinks not just about tomorrow, but the Cheshire of 10 and 20 years from today. 

 

Lynn Alvey Dawson

(Democrat)

Age: 62

Occupation: Attorney – primarily family and custody matters

Family: Daughters: three who attended Cheshire public schools and now live out of state; Grandchildren: 3-year-old granddaughter and another granddaughter due in November.

Relevant Experience: Member of the Cheshire Juvenile Review Board; Member of the Coalition for Sustainable Cheshire; Member of the Cheshire Democratic Town Committee

Reason for Running: I am running because I have lived in Cheshire since 1994 and I care about this town. I am a strong believer in giving back to the community. I believe it is my responsibility to try and improve my community. It is important to me that the community is informed of town issues and that everyone has an opportunity to weigh in on the decisions being made. One of my goals is to meet regularly with voters to keep them informed of the issues and get their input. If elected, I would do my best to listen to the concerns of my neighbors and represent their interests.

Most Important Issue to You: Bringing our educational system into the 21st century is very important to me. Our current school buildings were constructed 50+ years ago. Education has changed since that time. We need our buildings to be conducive to training students for a 21st century work force. The physical environments where our students spend their days need to be adaptable to a curriculum with more focus on collaboration, problem solving and technology.

Like many other town residents, I moved to Cheshire for the school system. But, if we fail to improve our schools, we may lose families to towns with newer and more modern school buildings.  Updating our schools will also impact our ability to attract top notch teachers. Ultimately, our property values could be impacted. It’s time to improve our schools. And, yes it will cost money. But, we are currently spending hundreds of thousands of dollars every year trying to maintain 50, 60 and 70 year old buildings. New buildings would be far more energy efficient and require far less maintenance.

I am passionate about the environment. There is so much more that we, as a community, can do to protect our planet. We can encourage the businesses in town to recycle, consistent with the state laws. We can encourage the restaurants in town to compost their food scraps to keep them from releasing methane in landfills. We can educate the residents on the importance of conserving water and energy.

We need to find a way to involve more residents in town commissions, town issues, and town decisions. If elected I would work to keep the public informed. I would seek the public’s input on the issues and work to represent the interests of the community.

 

Sylvia Nichols

(Republican*)

Occupation: Retired retail businessowner/manager, current Floral industry consultant

Family: Children: two sons. Grandchildren: two grandchildren.

Relevant Experience: Town Council (2010–present); Planning and Zoning Commission (2008); Bachelor of Science Special Education

Reason for Running: It is very simple: I moved to Cheshire, a sleepy farm town as a newly-wed. I watched Highland School being built. Ultimately, my sons and two grandchildren, graduated from Cheshire High School. A parent, swim team mom, a Cub Scout leader, a business owner, a demanding career, an elected volunteer, an empty nester, and now, as a retiree, I am moving to my fourth home in Cheshire. I am you, wherever you are in life today.

Why am I running? It must be because I am still excited to be part of the future of Cheshire. Heaven knows, as a volunteer job, it can’t be just about the money!

Most Important Issue to You: The single biggest issue to come before the Town Council in more than 20 years is the modernization of our schools. Board of Education, Town Council members, and the School Modernization Committee as well as professional project managers and the State of CT OSCGR, are diligently working to present a phased plan to address the issues at all of our schools.

The plan must address the delivery of quality educational programing, increasing school enrollment special services, ADA compliance, at an affordable tax rate for our home and business owners.

Arriving at a final plan is the first step. As a Town Councilor I will be searching for ways to educate taxpayers on the priorities and parameters of the final proposed project. Voters must be guided by facts when voting for or against any plan at a referendum in 2021.

The time is now to get behind the modernization of our schools. Listen to the experts, consider the needs of all taxpayers — with or without kids in school. Consider the effects of increased taxes on local businesses. Consider the quality of educational programming. Consider the students — the leaders of tomorrow and do your part to be educated about the plans and vote to begin to change the future.

 

Sandy Pavano

(Republican*)

Age: 69

Reason for Running: I am a member of the Town Council and looking to continue to successfully address the challenges facing the future of this great community.

With my many years of public service and  2 terms on the Board of Education, I am uniquely qualified to continue making a positive impact  on Cheshires bright future.  In order to be successful, my experience has taught me to work across party lines and listen to all sides. Our focus, no matter what party must teach us to work for what is best for the Town of Cheshire and its taxpayers.  

Most Important Issue to You: The biggest issue is school modernization and coming together to address the needs of our aging buildings, address enrollment and plan for the best educational environment for our students. Getting all the facts to the taxpayers is key to the success of this project. We must continue fiscal responsibility budgeting and support of public safety.

 

Tim Slocum

(Republican*)

Age: 66

Occupation: Owner, HFM Interiors, LLC, Cheshire

Family: Widower. Four adult children, two living in Cheshire, one grandchild.

Relevant Experience: Planning & Zoning Commission (2003–2007); Cheshire Town Council (2007–2021 Former Chairman 6 years. Current Vice-Chairman); Cheshire Representative Regional Water Authority Policy Board

Reason for Running: I have been an elected member of the Town Council since 2007. I love this job. In my tenure I have worked tirelessly for the taxpayers to keep Cheshire a great town to live and work in. And we do live in a well-managed and safe town thanks to the hard work of my colleagues on the Council and the hardworking people in Town Hall.

Since the COVID crisis impacted everything national, state, and our town, we have fared pretty well. Economically, the town’s businesses have been impacted, some much harder than others. The same can be said for our residents. For the first time I can remember the Council did not raise your property taxes in 2020. This year we held the line with a modest tax increase. Cheshire remains financially strong and we can look forward to achieving our long term goals of modernizing our schools, maintaining important town infrastructure while enhancing the services that provide the best possible experiences for all our residents.

Most important Issue to You: Cheshire has unfinished business related to resolving our school modernization goals. This is a big factor in my decision to seek re-election to the Town Council. The SMC has advanced the School Modernization Committee’s 9-3 majority voted plan for two new elementary schools and the closure of two current school buildings. The Council has been deliberating on this for many months together with BOE, our consultants and the public.

Issues remain that cannot be resolved until late spring 2022. There are some that also favor a new middle school. It is my goal to see elected leaders on the Council and the Board of Education get behind the preferred option, resolve all outstanding concerns including satisfying important educational goals and requirements. Of highest importance is that all taxpayers understand the balance we must achieve to keep taxes under control. The financial impact is big and I know this. Ultimately you make the decision we bring to the table for next year’s referendum.

 

Jami Ferguson

(Democrat)

Age:  51 

Occupation: Proprietor, Permittee & Taproom manager of Cheshire Craft Brewing

Family: Spouse: Kevin Ferguson. Children: Owen Ferguson, Mary Ferguson

Relevant Experience: Town of Cheshire, Economic Development Commission; Small Business Owner; Lawyer

Reason for Running: In 2014, Dr. Greg Florio, former Cheshire Superintendent of School, asked me to participate in the process that later became known as the Facility Master Plan. Seven years later, a wealth of information has been gathered, but no action has been taken. I have a nagging fear that a majority of Cheshire voters view school modernization as a luxury, not a necessity. That misconception could be devastating to our town’s economy when real property values across the entire town decline. 

One of the reasons I’m running for Town Council is to ensure residents have the information they need to make informed decisions. Being an informed voter in Cheshire is time consuming and exhausting. It doesn't need to be so difficult. As your Town Councilor, I will get you the information you need in your hand (not just on your phone) without disrupting your life.

Most Important Issue to You: On Sept. 4, 2014, the Board of Education and the Cheshire Public Schools determined all of the school buildings needed so much work, the only responsible path forward was to confer with the Town Council and engage a consultant to help the Board develop a long range Facility Master Plan (FMP). Fast forward to June 27, 2017 when the Council had a resolution before it to allow the Board of Education 1) To apply for a state construction grant to build a new middle school and 2) To hold a referendum that would allow the voters to decide if the middle school  was the right first step for our town. The Council blocked the residents from voting.

Jump to Oct. 14. The FMP is now known as School Modernization and the stress on our buildings has only compounded, construction costs have risen, and reimbursements have dropped. Yet the Council is still reluctant to allow the voters to decide whether the right first step is to start with the middle school even though it’s the only feasible, twice vetted, district-wide option on the table. A plan that only benefits half of the town is highly unlikely to pass without a sound reason. The town cannot afford to delay another year. I will take a different approach to providing residents with the information they need, in a quantity and manner they can digest so they have facts to rely on when they're asked to support the school modernization plan presented to them in the spring of 2022.

(NOTE: * denotes incumbent.)


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