BERLIN - In the first event of its kind, the senior center hosted a meet-and- greet of candidates running for municipal election in Berlin Tuesday.
The two mayoral candidates, Town Council, Police Commission and Board of Finance candidates were each given three minutes to speak and introduce themselves before mingling with attendees.
“We can’t get rid of our bonded debt until we pay it off so we try to keep the rest of the town very fiscally conservative,” said incumbent Republican mayoral candidate Mark Kaczynski, citing the high school project that he said the town needed and is why taxes have increased the past two years. He added that he is working with the YMCA to develop a senior/community center in a private/public partnership for community activities, with a pool.
“I’m not pleased with the lack of leadership under the currently Republican controlled Town Council,” said Democratic mayoral challenger Rich Paskiewicz. “Our previously highly competent town manager was fired, terminated, let go, forced out, pick your term, after doing a fine job, and we’ve limped along with no permanent replacement.
Paskiewicz added that he would try to instill a veterans and seniors tax credit for up to $30,000 a year for volunteering service.
Candidates for all positions, from both parties, used the time to provide their background and introduce themselves.
“What I intend to do is keep taxes low. I aim to do that through welcoming new businesses into town and keeping service while looking for inefficiencies, looking at how we can save money when people retire, not replacing that position,” said first time Republican council hopeful Alex Giannone. He explained his background as a police officer, state police officer, law school achievements and work as a lawyer. Giannone is running alongside incumbents Brenden Luddy, Charles Paonessa and Amy Maier Daniele on the Republican ticket.
“I know what it also means to have an excellent school system … which is really integral to families wanting to move to town and stay in town,” said Democratic council candidate JoAnn Angelico-Stetson, sharing her background as a Board of Education and economic development commission member, as well as a legal administrator for over 20 years
For the police commission, incumbent Democrat John Annuzeta, hopeful Democrat Tony Legnani and incumbent Republican Paul Eshoo all spoke of their hopes to bring a new police station to town, whether it be upgrades or a new building.
Hopefuls for the Board of Finance Sam Lemaglio, a Republican, said he would work to make sure the town is in good standing with its bonding. Democratic hopefuls for the Board of Finance Mark Holmes and Gerry Paradis touted their efforts to produce a good budget despite funding troubles from the state.
Republican candidate for the Board of Assessment Appeals John Frink said he would work with town assessor Joe Ferraro to help those who attend Board of Assessment Appeals meetings. Frink is running against Democratic incumbent candidate Stuart Topliff.
Concluding the speakers was Board of Education Candidate Frederick Morley, 19, who said he would work to make sure school services aren’t compromised, despite budget woes from Gov. Dannel Malloy and House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz, D-Berlin.
“It was excellent,” said Sandra Baclaski, adding she wished she could have asked the candidates questions directly while they spoke.
“I now have a better idea,” said Barry Alexander, after hearing the candidates’ introductions and speaking with them personally afterward.
Maier Daniele and Republican Board of Finance Candidates Sal Bordonaro and Kevin Guite were absent, along with Topliff and Board of Ed candidates Timothy Oakes, Dr. Kari Sassu and Richard Aroian.
The speech and debate club at Berlin High School will host a mayoral candidate debate on Nov. 2 at 6:30 p.m. in the school auditorium. Berlin High School is located at 139 Patterson Way.
Charles Paullin can be reached at 860-801-5074 or firstname.lastname@example.org.