Newington Candidates Sound Off On Smart Spending, Economic Development

If there’s one thing Newington Republicans and Democrats can agree on, it’s that raising taxes is no longer the solution for raising revenue.

Ahead of the November election, candidates from both parties said that fiscal responsibility and coming up with new ways to raise revenue for the town were paramount.

“As we have done in our first term, we will continue to hold the line on expenditures and remain mindful of the impact of our decisions on household finances and business bottom lines,” Republican Mayor Roy Zartarian said.

Zartarian is running for a second term with a full slate of Republican candidates behind him. Incumbent Deputy Mayor David Nagel is running alongside majority leader Beth DelBuono, as well as councilors Gail Budjreko and Tim Manke. Newcomer Mike Camillo joins them on the ballot.

Camillo owns West Hill Automotive Truck and Trailer Services in town, a family business that he said gives him a unique experience to bring to the council.

“Throughout the years there have been times when business was slower,” he said. “I have had to find a way to cut expenses, becoming more efficient, while not having it affect our customers. Our town is a business.”

DelBuono said one of her priorities would be working to develop areas of town that could increase revenue.

“We need to work with our economic development agency and with our director to take a more aggressive approach to develop these areas and get them on the tax rolls,” she said.

On the board of education side, Republicans are running incumbents Steven Silvia, Robert Tofeldt and Paul Vessella. Newcomers Danielle Drozd and Jeremy Whetzel will join them on the slate.

Candidates said that sharing services, making sure school buildings are up to date, and providing a modern education for students are top priorities for the board.

“It is extremely important to me that we keep teachers working and the buildings that our children spend so much time in up to code and safe,” Whetzel said. “I want to see Newington invest in beneficial tech that will support a strong, progressive curriculum.”

Democrats, looking to win back the majority on the council, are running former council Majority Leader Terry Borjeson for mayor. Minority Leader Carol Anest joins him on the ballot, alongside incumbents Jim Marocchini and Diana Casasanta Serra. Newcomers Nicholas Arace and Chris Miner are also running.

Borjeson outlined several issues he’s hoping to tackle, including properly funding the board of education, growing the grand list and keeping taxes as low as possible.

“[We need] to maintain our fiscal restraint and look at operational efficiencies to keep our mill rate as low as possible,” Borjeson said. “[We need] to develop properties on the Cedar Street, Route 15 intersection and on Fenn Road that fit Newington and preserve its special character.”

Marocchini said that he’d like to see the town parties work together for the good of the town.

“I am willing to work with all parties at the table to do what is right for the residents of Newington. Once at the council table there should be no ‘D’ or ‘R’ — only ‘N’ for Newington,” he said.

Council newcomer, Arace, 26, said he would bring a new way of doing things to the council.

“As a young candidate, I am not attached to the old way of doing things. I am bringing a fresh perspective and ideas that will benefit every resident of Newington,” he said.

For the board of education, Democrats are running incumbents Josh Shulman, Sharon Braverman, Emily Guion and Cindy Stamm. Newcomer Michael Branda joins them.

After a difficult budget year for the board, Guion said that growing class sizes and STEM initiatives need to be priorities.

“Newington will need to address our growing class sizes, our stalled academies of Medical Science and Aerospace and Engineering at the high school, and the renovation of the Anna Reynolds Elementary School,” she said. “It is imperative that the board of education and town council work together to address these issues.”

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