Endorsements: Council, Tax Collector, Treasurer, Town Clerk

by Christopher O'Brien

vote boxTown Council: The Town Council has done an excellent job at keeping our mill rate stable for the past 3 of 4 years. There have been few conflicts and in fact, most of the heated debate in today’s Mayoral race stem from decisions made by a Democratic Council a few years ago. The six Republicans all bring different skills to the table. First District Councilman Jeffrey Slavin is personable and asks honest questions. Rachel Wisler and Gale Mastrofranscesco equally ask probing questions and add plainspoken voices when they think money could be better spent. Roger Picard and Don Charette bring managerial experience to the table and current chairman David Valletta has allowed open dissent and discussion.

In addition, newcomer and local businessman Patrick Lerz has thrown his hat into the ring for 2nd District. You can only vote for two people fom that district, but three will get in. He has raised a family and business in town and would be a welcome addition.

Tax Collector: We endorse Darlene Tynan.

This has been the other volatile race in town besides Mayor. Barbs of alleged nepotism have been exchanged both ways: Current Tax Collector Cheryl Brundage McQueen inherited the post from her mother who retired mid-term and challenger Darlene Tynan was hired by the Mayor who is her older brother. Tynan manages the town’s lead grant-writer and manages the Energy Assistance Fund.

We don’t give much weight for the nepotism charges because both candidates have performed admirably in their current positions. Brundage has met the Town Council’s goals for collections at 98.5%, started an online payment system and says she works well with taxpayers who are unable to meet their obligations, yet still hold them to their responsibility to paying the tax they owe.  When Tynan accepted her position, only 100 residents were able to receive Energy Assistance, and now over 800 do. She also assists residence in accessing food stamps and applying to Medicaid.

We endorse Ms. Tynan because she is a hard worker and plans to move the social services she currently provides into the tax office. In this role, she can better communicate to residents what services are available when it becoems known that they may need such assistance. In today’s economic climate, these services are important and this novel role for the office should be achievable within existing funds. It may even slightly reduce the expenditures Wolcott pays to maintain the two separate departments. For Ms. McQueen- Brundage, she took an appropriately hard line on tax evaders by issuing tax warrants and holding property auctions when they were appropriate. Every year there some folks don’t want to pay their share. We feel she used the legal resources available to accomplish this difficult job.  However, we took exception to her campaign claiming that Ms. Tynan has “no concept” of customer service when it is clear that her office has expanded services to those who need them. She also could have earned points saying she exceeded the Council’s 98.5% collection goal instead of saying she had a embellished 100% collection rate. That claim is true if you consider she met over 100% of the target goal.

She deserves credit for the job she’s done, but we believe her campaign went a little too far for a local race when honesty and trust are the most important qualities for this position.

That’s why we endorse Ms. Tynan and ask you to as well.

Treasurer:  We Endorse Anthony Marino

This race is a refreshing breath of air when compared to the other top slots. Here we have three intelligent, honest, and respectable men who have long histories in giving back to their town and community. Each of them have run positive campaigns and have run on their relevant experience for the job.

Before discussing our pick, we’ll remind you of why a Treasurer isn’t a position that should be overlooked. The Treasurer does more than write out checks. They are the key player in the Town’s Finance Board, making decisions on how pension funds and investments are handled. This ensures that the town’s retirees are taken care of and not left holding the bag if those investments fail. With the tumultuous economy in recent years, a good Treasurer can pull out of or shift investments when the needs warrents. The Treasurer also manages the town’s bank deposits. This is important because those deposits can collect interest as an additional source of income. Retiring Town Treasurer Roger Levesque periodically shopped around different banks to see if a better rate can be gained with our millions of dollars in investments. We feel that each of the candidates has the knowledge and ability to make these decisions.

Petitioning candidate George Phelan has noted his experience running the Wolcott County Fair and being the past president of the Wolcott Lions Club. Democrat David Gentile and Tony Marino have both served on the Town Council which is the town’s Finance Board. They have also sat on the Finance Committee which, with Mr. Leveqsue under his tenure made the long term fiscal decisions on healthcare plans and pension obligations. Mr. Gentile (D) also has served as the Controller (essentially the same position) in his fulltime job at All Pointe Care in Cheshire. He also has information technology experience. Mr. Marino was the Treasurer for Bristol Babcock Federal Credit Union, managing assets of over $25 million.

The commitment and resumes of these candidates make the choice a close one, which again we’re happy to have.

Yet, Anthony Marino wins our vote because he has pledged to make the Treasurer’s job – which pays – his primary job. He recently retired from Bristol Babcock and therefore has the time to be at Town Hall during regular business hours. Mr. Gentile has not made a similar commitment and will likely keep his current job.

During the campaign, Mr. Gentile repeatedly contacted his opponents to hold a debate to discuss their qualifications for the office. We’re unsure what questions can really be asked in a debate that probably wouldn’t last more than ten or fifteen minutes, but suppose there could be something to be gained if one were held. Each time, his calls were rejected or rebuffed, he says. We’re still comfortable with our choice based on Mr. Marino’s ability to bring relevance from his past experience to the job and the timing of his ability to commit to making this his fulltime job.

Town Clerk:

Debbie Slater has served two terms thus far in the role that used to belong to Elaine King. Slater has aptly managed and updated the Town Clerk’s office by restoring old records and running an efficient office. The office keeps records of all vital records including births, marriages, and land deeds. They also sell dog, fishing and hunting licenses and maintain town documents since its founding in the 1700s. This job is all about customer service, office management, and keeping up to date on new laws dealing with elections and pubilc information.

We encourage you to cast a vote for her… but if you don’t, that’s ok too. Democrats have recognized her accomplishments and staff’s excellent customer service and declined to put up a candidate. So get to know her, because she’ll be our next Town Clerk.

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