Rocky Hill voters have plenty of options to consider, with three parties and 28 candidates for town council and the board of education
In July, Republicans and Democrats nominated slates filled with incumbent and first time candidates, and in August, a third party, Unite! Rocky Hill, announced a slate.
Democrats, who have held the majority since 2015, nominated Mayor Claudia Baio and Deputy Mayor Joe Kochanek alongside town councilors John Emmanuel and William O’Sullivan.
Newcomers Mukesh Desai and Christopher Duff will join them on the ballot.
Chief among the issues Democrats are looking to solve is how the state budget will impact the town’s finances and seeing projects like the intermediate school and senior center come to fruition.
“Over the last two years, we have already begun to address these issues, but we have more work to do,” Baio said. “We will need to continue to look deeply into the budget process.”
Duff, a newcomer to the council, said the town council needs to look at new ways to expand the town’s grand list.
“Given the challenging economic climate in our state, we must continue to be creative, efficient and disciplined with our budgeting and planning so that we can keep our mill rate low and protect vital services,” Duff said.
On the board of education side, Democrats are running incumbents Laurie Boske, Barry Goldberg, Maria Mennella and Rene Rivard. Newcomer Judi Murphy is also on the slate.
“The most pressing issues facing the town are the increase in enrollment with limited classroom space in our facilities,” Mennella said. “As our enrollment increases, we would like to keep Rocky Hill a desirable community by offering high quality education in a fiscally responsible manner.”
On the Republican side, Lisa Marotta is running for mayor with a slate of fresh faces including Bryan Addy, Ed Charamut, Allan Greenspan, Andrew Lanciotto and Jeff Levine.
Republicans said working across party lines, responsibly managing state funding and accommodating the town’s growth were top priorities for the party.
“My goal is to set the tone for prudent management and unbiased leadership. The council must work collaboratively toward goals in a transparent manner,” Marotta said. “This is the basis for moving agendas forward and the people of Rocky Hill deserve an administration committed to action.”
Addy, a newcomer on the slate, said the Republican ballot has the right attitude to help move Rocky Hill forward.
“We don’t have egos or grudges from prior elections that impede progress. We are fresh faces with open minds and can-do attitudes that will listen and work together to resolve current issues,” he said.
Republicans will run incumbents Jenn Allison, Dilip Desai, Brian Dillon and Frank Morse to serve on the board of education. Kimberly Kehoe, a newcomer, is also on the slate.
Kehoe said that developing a STEM curriculum to ensure students are getting a top-notch education will be a priority.
“By doing this, our students will be well prepared for the requirements and responsibilities that will be waiting for them by the time they enter middle school,” she said.
In August, a new party came together to challenge both Republican and Democratic slates. Unite! Rocky Hill was founded on a platform of smart growth, fiscal responsibility and government ethics.
Former Rocky Hill mayor and town councilor Henry Vasel will be running for mayor on the slate with incumbent councilors Catherine Vargas and Frank Szeps. Newcomers Ralph Lindenberger, Cynthia Tangney and Michele Collins join them.
“I believe Unite! Rocky Hill is much better than the national political parties,” Vasel, who is self-funding his campaign for mayor, said. “The national parties are telling you ‘you can only buy vanilla’ and I’m saying there’s 31 different flavors.”
Candidates said top priorities would be working together, creating a strong education system, providing more services to seniors and stabilizing the income tax base.
“I have and will continue to take an in-depth look at where your tax dollars are being spent and to make recommendations as to how to provide the services Rocky Hill needs to be a thriving and vibrant community in the most cost-effective manner,” Vargas said.