DECISION 2021: North Stonington Board of Schooling, Board of Finance candidates search to deal with main wants in coming time period | North Stonington

NORTH STONINGTON — There will likely be a mixture of acquainted faces and new names in town’s Board of Schooling within the coming time period as incumbents Christine Wagner, a Republican, and Democrat Jamie Towle-Weicksel will likely be joined by newcomers Stanley “Chet” Stefanowicz and Lisa Mazzella on a board that will likely be turning an eye fixed towards the long run. Democrat Jennifer Welborn can even return, operating unopposed to fill a two-year emptiness.

On the Board of Finance, a Democratic incumbent and Republican newcomer will every obtain full phrases alongside a Republican filling a four-year emptiness. Every celebration can even have an alternate seated following Tuesday’s election.

With solely three contested races on the poll this 12 months, candidates for each the Board of Schooling and Board of Finance will all obtain phrases following the upcoming Connecticut native elections, however that hasn’t prevented candidates from campaigning to listen to from voters and start figuring out what the townspeople want to see shifting ahead.

For the Board of Schooling, specifically, that may contain shifting on from facility renovations that had been accomplished up to now couple years to discovering a viable, certified long-term substitute to fill the sneakers of Superintendent Peter L. Nero, who has introduced he’ll retire on the finish of the college 12 months in June.

“The highest precedence within the coming time period will likely be to discover a candidate who will have the ability to are available, present long-term stability and construct on the successes that the district has had,” stated Wagner, 52, who served as chairwoman of the Board of Schooling throughout the earlier time period.

Board of Schooling

A 15-year resident of the city, Wagner and her husband Jason moved to the group for the faculties and small city setting. A State Farm insurance coverage agent along with her personal enterprise in New London, she stated she has been honored to have the ability to be a member of the board because it has labored to place the district for long-term success.

Along with in search of the best match at superintendent, Wagner stated the upcoming time period can even embody efforts to ensure any gaps in training because of the pandemic are addressed and to guarantee that no pupil has fallen by the cracks. The district’s employees has finished a wonderful job, she stated, however each the scholars and employees will want a board that continues to work collectively and places apart partisan politics to offer the very best high quality training it could actually for city youngsters.

Towle-Weicksel echoed Wagner’s targets, saying that board members might want to seek for a superintendent who will have the ability to seize the torch and carry it ahead as a way to take an already good college district to the following stage.

“We’re going to want somebody who’s energetic, excited to be right here and able to work collaboratively with our devoted employees to assist the district proceed to rise,” she stated.

The mom of a second-grade pupil, Violet, along with her husband Steven, Towle-Weicksel operates a analysis laboratory as a biochemist specializing in melanoma analysis. She turned concerned within the college group when her daughter joined the district, and she or he was a part of a gaggle of oldsters who raised $120,000 final 12 months for substitute of growing older, harmful playground tools at North Stonington Elementary College.

She stated she loved the expertise and needed to do extra, which led her to run. In her returning function, she stated she is going to stay centered on ensuring insurance policies and practices are equitable for all college students and that they’ve the instruments essential to thrive.

Newcomers Stefanowicz and Mazzella, in the meantime, every come to the board with their very own expertise in training. An 18-year public faculties instructor who works in Preston, Stefanowicz has a bachelor’s diploma in Spanish and worldwide research and a grasp’s diploma from Sacred Coronary heart College in training. He spent a number of years as a toddler protecting employee in Iowa previous to shifting to a profession as a instructor.

Mazzella, 56, is a 28-year resident in North Stonington with huge expertise working with the district’s PTOs together with serving two years as a PTO president. She has additionally served for seven years as as a troop chief for the Woman Scouts of America, is a co-founder of the Knowledgeable Residents of North Stonington, or ICONS, is co-editor of North Stonington Quarterly and has served on the Board of Evaluation Appeals.

Each stated this week that they’ve all the time felt a particular connection to the college group and, after discovering themselves with the time to take action, needed to step up and serve in a bigger capability as an elected official. Each additionally cited the hiring of a brand new superintendent as a high and quick aim whereas expressing a want to carry their very own abilities to different wants inside the district.

A “pupil of communication,” Stefanowicz stated he feels his data of the training course of and skill to assume analytically will permit him to hit the bottom operating, and stated whereas the city maintains spectacular check scores and rankings, there are all the time areas that may be improved upon. He famous that he believes communication is likely one of the areas the place the district can enhance.

“Proper now, we’ve got an issue getting participation and we have to take a look at why,” he stated. “With the pandemic and Zoom conferences, there ought to have been 200 mother and father some nights checking in or watching again and we’ve had not even a fraction of that. In a small city, we have to work out what’s conserving mother and father out of the method and tackle that extra straight.”

In the meantime, Mazzella stated she additionally sees communications as an space of want and want to see extra work finished to boost interpersonal communication for college students. She stated she want to see applications shift in order that college students nonetheless obtain technological coaching, however are spending extra time interacting face-to-face and fewer time with their faces glued to a tool.

“It can be crucial, as research have proven by the pandemic to have our college students concerned in applicable social interplay is a vital a part of childhood improvement,” she stated.

In in search of the seat to fill a two-year emptiness, Welborn will proceed to serve in a task she has over the previous time period. She stated she had already served part-time after being elected to fill a four-year time period herself and needed to offer Stefanowicz and Mazzella an opportunity to hunt full first phrases quite than forcing them into an abbreviated two-year place.

That received’t cease the skilled chemist and Navy veteran, who attained a rank of lieutenant, from persevering with to be devoted to her work. She stated she plans to take her perspective as a former instructor and use it to attempt to present employees and college students with the assets they should succeed, regardless of the place life could take them after Wheeler Excessive College. She stated she would additionally wish to proceed to have a look at scheduling and different elements, together with begin instances, in an effort to assist enhance pupil studying.

“There’s loads of work nonetheless to be finished, and I sit up for working with the opposite members of the board to do what’s greatest for our kids,” she stated.

Board of Finance

Democratic incumbent Sarah Nelson, who served the earlier time period as alternate to the Board of Finance, will sq. off on the poll in opposition to Republican challenger Gary Annino, a longtime volunteer who ventured into elected politics for the primary time in 2021. Though voters will choose one, each will serve on the board.

At 56 years outdated, Annino stated his father all the time taught him the significance of giving again to the group you name residence. His father and brother have every served as first selectmen the place he grew up, and Annino has been energetic in North Stonington, together with volunteering for 10 years on the Wheeler Library Board of Administrators, together with serving as president.

Annino, who lives on the town along with his spouse, Stephanie, and their son, Chris, stated he would work to delve deep into line gadgets, work to offer higher transparency and search to discover a stability to assist establish and meet the city’s monetary wants whereas keeping track of influence to taxpayers. He stated that, given challenges offered by the pandemic and results of a latest revaluation, it might be necessary for whoever is elected to not be afraid to ask questions and supply solutions for the general public, in addition to set limits to guarantee that taxpayers usually are not overburdened.

Nelson, 41, has a bachelor’s diploma normally research with a minor in anthropology from the College of Connecticut and is an IT program supervisor specializing in mergers and acquisitions with Pfizer.

With no competitors on the poll, Republican Carl R. Johnston Jr. will likely be elected to fill a 4-year emptiness on the Board of Finance. Johnston, 63, is the proprietor of CRJ House Enchancment LLC and works as a basic contractor.

The poll can even embody two candidates to function alternates to the Board of Finance, Republican Amy Pal and Democrat Winona Berdine.

Pal, 42, a spouse and mom of two, first moved to North Stonington about 5 years in the past and stated she has all the time had an curiosity in politics and volunteering as a public servant in the neighborhood. She has earned bachelor’s and grasp’s levels in political science from the College of Rhode Island and Grasp’s of Science diploma in training from the College of New Haven.

Throughout the pandemic, Pal stated she discovered extra time to comply with city politics and have become concerned after seeing officers spending cash that voters had not authorized.

She stated authorities spending has additionally centered an excessive amount of on progress, and she or he would search to search out stability between correct progress in the neighborhood by organizations and companies with ties to agriculture, permitting the group to increase its grand listing with out compromising the agricultural, small-town setting that so many residents love.

“I really feel strongly that the city of North Stonington shouldn’t be making offers or monetary choices with out enter from the general public,” Pal stated. “Individuals in the neighborhood ought to have extra say, and a few of these choices being made must be introduced earlier than the general public for voters to determine. That may stay a precedence for me.”

Messages left with Nelson, Johnston and Berdine weren’t returned.

Different races

In North Stonington, there are a selection of races for different workplaces on the town, though most stay uncontested this 12 months.

Within the contested races, Democratic incumbent Mustapha Ratib will sq. off in opposition to Republican Shawn Murphy for city treasurer and Democrat Anthony Mazzella and Republicans Wayne M. Wilkinson and Priscilla Lewis are every in search of one of many two open seats on the Planning and Zoning Fee.

Because of the uncontested races, Republican Lisa Mazzella will serve on the Board of Evaluation Appeals; Republican Emily Lewis will function alternate to the Financial Improvement Fee; Republicans Robert Mazzella and Robert Kappes will likely be elected as alternates to the Planning and Zoning Fee; Mark S. Perkins Jr. will serve on the Zoning Board of Appeals; and Republicans Amy Pal, Daniel Smith and William Mason will every function alternates to the Zoning Board of Appeals.

Democrat Christopher J. Friday and Republicans Salvatore E. Cherenzia IV and Stefan Grufstedt will compete on the poll for seats on the Financial Improvement Fee, however all three can even serve.

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