Read the Democratic Candidates’ Statements

In Stories by Alex Harris

For Board of Finance

I am a current member of the Board of Finance, and respectfully ask for your vote so I can continue to serve our community. Ridgefield is a very special place to me, my family, and all of us lucky enough to grow-up, raise a family, live and retire here.

I have been a passionate supporter of our town since deciding to move our family here 11 years ago, and have been actively involved in many community organizations, including the Boy Scouts, Ridgefield Bicycle Sports Club, and the Soccer Club of Ridgefield, where I’ve had the privilege of coaching hundreds of kids, from pre-school age through middle schoolers.

I am focused on several key themes: Keeping a sharp eye on our revenues and expenses to protect our tax dollars, balancing the needs of today while investing for tomorrow – we have a 308 year history and we need to consider the next 300+ years as well, and, of course, representing the many distinct voices of our community. As a board, we always hope that the budget referendum passes, so we need to actively listen to the many perspectives to ensure we represent them appropriately. That’s just what I have done in my over 20 years working for a leading management consulting firm and, further, is the reason I attended all Board of Education meetings through this past budget season. The more connected we are, the better we can work together.

I look forward to continuing to serve Ridgefield in the future. Thank you for your support!

Sean Connelly

I grew up in Ridgefield. My dad worked for IBM; my mom taught 1st grade at VP.  I loved working at Keeler Tavern and Ancona’s. I never wanted to leave, but at 21 I found myself on my own: both my parents had died. I needed to sell our home, and move away. I hoped for just one year; but I met my husband…. and it took longer. We had 4 children, and lived near Stanford University.  It was exciting, but I missed Ridgefield. During Hurricane Sandy we found our home on Market Street.

We bought Ross Bread and it became my responsibility to take a nice bakery, and breathe new life into it.  From day one I examined every aspect of the business:  payroll, vendors, equipment, services and supplies. I scanned every line looking for efficiencies, researching improvements and tracking trends.  My goal was to find ways to work smarter, leaner, more efficiently so that when it came time to grow, we could do that too.

Every day I talk to neighbors about their joys and concerns for our town. How? Last year we had more than 80,000 transactions.  We now employ 22 people. We give RHS students their first jobs, and donate to every Ridgefield organization that asks.

Board of Finance has great Democratic leadership.  What we need now is an energized, creative, businesswoman who has experience in Ridgefield balancing budgets, thinking to the bottom line, and planning for the future.

For Board of Education

My name is Margaret Stamatis and I currently serve on the Ridgefield Board of Education (BOE).  I would like to continue my fifteen years of involvement with the Ridgefield Public Schools (RPS) through another term on the BOE.

I’m qualified to serve because I am committed, experienced, and deeply connected to the community.

I’m a parent of 4 RPS students (current and former), and an active volunteer in the community since moving here 15 years ago.  I served as PTA president at multiple levels and as president of the Council of PTAs. I am currently chapter president of Lion’s Heart, a community service organization of 350 boys and girls. I have served on the Ridgefield Prevention Council for 10 years, to educate and provide programming to minimize risky behavior in our youth.

As a partner in an executive search firm with virtual offices (formerly headquartered in Ridgefield), I understand that our students must develop the skills to enable them to succeed in a workforce that may look very different than what currently exists.  Soft skills such as resilience, adaptability and growth mindset need to build on a solid academic foundation. Our schools need to provide our students with skills that allow them to continuously adapt to the rapidly changing economic and technological landscape.

As a member of the district’s Strategic Coherence Planning committee I was a part of a community effort to identify the values of our district and formulate a mission statement and vision of the graduate to guide the district in its planning.  If elected, I’ll work to keep our goals and budget in alignment with the mission and hold ourselves accountable to its intent.

Ridgefield is a special community with an excellent public school system. It is our duty to strategically invest in effective and efficient resources to continue in the tradition of excellence. To do so, I support:

  • Innovation in the classroom at all levels
  • Strategic investment in technology and its support of curriculum
  • Thinking differently about the elementary, middle, and high school experiences
  • Developing policies that allow for novel approaches to learning
  • Best practices for the health and emotional well being of our students

I believe that we have excellent public schools in Ridgefield and that the new strategic mission and vision for our district will give us the focused framework to continue to maintain that level of excellence while moving us forward with innovative best practices. I will bring the depth and breadth of my community service experience, understanding of the needs of our youth, and the knowledge of our district’s strength and weaknesses to bear as your BOE representative. I ask for your continued support and vote in November.

 

My name is Doug Silver. I was elected to serve on the Board of Education in 2015 and am seeking re-election.

My background as a teacher, a school administrator, a published educational researcher, a national consultant to high performing schools across the country, a software developer, and, finally as a parent of two daughters, prepared me well for this role.

I have been a passionate and thoughtful advocate for the families and taxpayers in Ridgefield to fulfill the promise of a high quality education system that everyone expects in our town. I believe that a rigorous and relevant education for ALL students is critical for the future of all Ridgefield citizens and can be achieved within reasonable budgetary constraints.

As an active Board member, I am proud of these accomplishments:

  • Successful budget passed that met the goals of the schools and the community
  • In January 2016 I was one of three board members leading the investigation into modifying our school start times to improve the health and wellness of our students. This effort eventually led to the formation of the School Start Time Committee.
  • I led the effort to have the business manager’s financial report include an accurate and transparent accounting of the athletic budget. It is now part of our regular budget reports.

In addition, I have served as a member of the Policy and Strategic Planning Committees that are charged with drafting policies and leading the continuous improvement of our school system. I want to continue this work and ask for your vote.

I am proud to run on the Democratic slate for Ridgefield’s Board of Education. I will bring real-world experience and leadership to the Board of Education as I have spent my entire career as a professional educator. I was a teacher and administrator for over forty years.  I am confident that my experience, wisdom and passion for schools make me qualified to meet the needs of all members of Ridgefield’s community.

I began my career as a Kindergarten, first and second grade teacher in New York City. After fifteen years in the classroom, I was appointed Principal. After moving to Ridgefield full-time in 1998, I was fortunate to serve as Assistant Principal in Katonah NY.  Most recently, I was Head of Lower School in New Canaan, Ct. I hold a B.A. from Rutgers University and an M.S. from Bank Street College of Education.  I consider myself a life-long learner and have kept current in the field by attending conferences, and workshops and serving on school accreditation teams. I am also the parent of a 2016 graduate of Ridgefield High School.

My goal is to serve all students, their families and the community on day one. Schools must focus on providing a top-notch education as well as partner with families in supporting students’ social and emotional well-being. As an educator I know that innovation and best practices often require investment, yet made correctly, are essential.

I believe that my experience makes me an ideal candidate; I have overseen budgets, worked with Boards, teachers, families and students.  Please vote for me on November 7th.

My name is Carina Borgi-Drake and I am running for Board of Education. I am the parent of two students at Branchville Elementary School.

As a registered nurse with experience in teaching hospitals, I am responsible for ensuring high-tech medical best practices in collaboration with multi-disciplinary medical teams. I’m the family’s voice in a complex medical community. I educate patients and train the next generation of nurses. I am fortunate to change and save lives across the developmental lifespan. My profession grants me insight into our advancing technologies and the social and emotional trends within our community.

I am the point person for Ridgefield’s efforts as part of Decoding Dyslexia, which is a national grassroots movement. My efforts to impact dyslexia and literacy policy at the local, state, and federal levels illustrate my aptitude for effective advocacy. This legislation has direct benefits to the literacy of our Ridgefield students. My consequent grasp of research-based best practices in our education choices will bring fresh perspective to our Board of Education.

I am committed to teacher innovation in the classroom, research based curriculum choices, student health, and transparent communication to the public. As a board member reviewing our budgets, I will be committed to ensuring that the priority of our resource allocation is focused on the teaching and learning experience of our students.

Please vote November 7, 2017!

For Police Commission

Opioid addiction is the greatest threat to Ridgefield’s public safety.  I am running for Ridgefield Police Commission to enable our town to more effectively fight this rapidly growing and deadly problem.

Opioids are typically introduced to our children through trusted sources – their friends, their families’ medicine cabinets, and the medical profession.   Innocent use becomes the   hook that quickly leads to addiction.   Once hooked, people become slaves to their addictions, stealing, destroying loving relationships, and devastating families.

When my family returned to Connecticut to plant roots in my home state, my daughter was attending Branchville Elementary School.  It was then that I began constructively pursuing this concern with Ridgefield’s Education Department, Coalition Against Substance Abuse, and the Ridgefield Police Department.  All agree that more needs to be done.

My 25-year career has been dedicated to developing effective criminal justice policy, including drug abuse prevention and best practices in policing.  I am a member of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, was the founding Policy Director of the Innocence Project’s nationwide wrongful conviction reform program, a participant in the national strategic planning for transforming victim services, and much more across the country.

I pride myself on working across issues, across stakeholders, and even across professions to identify the best ways to prevent public safety problems.  If elected, I will be a collaborative advocate for doing more, as smartly as possible, to prevent opioid abuse and addiction in Ridgefield – and the tragedies and public safety problems that flow from it.

I am honored to be on the democratic ticket for Board of Police Commissioners. As a Ridgefield resident since 2009, I have been continuously impressed with our police force. Now that I am retired,  I can use my skills to support their efforts in keeping Ridgefield one of the safest towns in America. Ridgefield is as safe as it is in part because the police department has been very pro-active in community policing. The department’s work on phone and internet scams, particularly those that target the elderly or youngsters, is just one of many examples.

Prior to my career in finance, where I was a hedge fund manager, I spent more than 15 years in the national security and defense areas in Washington D.C. Much of that work involved operations analysis and research as well as strategic and threat analysis. Being able to adapt to sudden change was a vital lesson and we must preserve the police department’s ability to continuously adapt to changing situations now.   The most important factors are: (1) Personnel;  (2) Training; (3) Policies and Procedures; and (4) Equipment. All of these factors are under the control of the board.

Among Ridgefielders’  most frequent complaints is traffic safety, particularly excessive speed on narrow roads and lack of crosswalks.  To the extent we can make Ridgefield a more pedestrian friendly town we reduce traffic congestion, mitigate the parking problem, and give a boost to our merchants who rely on pedestrian traffic to build and grow their business.

I ask for your support and vote in November.

For Planning & Zoning

I was born in Texas, grew up in Minnesota, began my career in New York, and have now chosen Ridgefield as my home. After spending my childhood and early adulthood in transition, I fell in love with Ridgefield’s picturesque Main Street, beautiful natural spaces, and strong sense of community. There is nothing I enjoy more than spending time wandering through the shops downtown, exploring the parks and nature trails, and engaging in dialogue with fellow community members about how to continue to enrich this town.

As I continue to learn about Ridgefield, I’ve realized how important the structures and overall topography of the town are in maintaining its unique status as a thriving cultural and commercial center with a small-town, family-friendly feel. I decided to run for the Planning and Zoning Commission so I can take an active part in ensuring that Ridgefield continues to reflect the needs and desires of its community members while retaining the qualities we all love.

I graduated from the University of Minnesota with a degree in electrical engineering with a focus in power systems and renewable energy. I’m currently a Senior Engineer and serve as a technical lead at a firm that works with electric utilities and local governments to increase the reliability and efficiency of the power grid. As a member of the Planning and Zoning Commission, I’ll apply the experience acquired in my field, along with my increasing understanding of Ridgefield, continually enhanced through conversations with community members, to ensure the town’s development reflects Ridgefielders’ visions.

Born and raised in Ridgefield, I care deeply for the Town and have served on the Planning and Zoning Commission for 12 years. As a P&Z Commission member, my goal has always been to preserve Ridgefield’s character through responsible planning.

As a licensed contractor in the State of Connecticut and Westchester County, I bring to the Commission a deep understanding of all aspects of easement, zoning, and wetland regulations, plus extensive experience in all phases of construction, topology, grading, blueprint reading and review, drainage, and site planning. This allows me to make open-minded, informed recommendations to the Commission, the goal being a final decision which protects the Town’s interests while respecting the applicant’s rights/

Ridgefield continues to be my home base for my business. I also serve on the Building/Appeals Review Board, have worked with various charities in the area, and studied civil engineering at Northeastern University.

Residents tell me they came to Ridgefield because of its incredible charm and don’t want it to change. Neither do I. But, I’ve been here longer than most and I realize that, whether we want it or not, development happens. We are not free to strip property owners of their rights. The key is to use responsible planning to assure the development accords with the town’s overall character and landscape, in accordance with the regulations provided, and with an eye to the future.

I ask for your vote on November 7.

I have been a resident of Ridgefield for more than 33 years.  Having retired from a successful career in the financial services industry, I became actively involved in community affairs and volunteer activities.  I continue to volunteer at ROAR, help with the integration of the resident refugee family, work closely with our First Selectman, Rudy Marconi, on special projects, and serve as a Commissioner on the Planning & Zoning Commission.

As a Planning & Zoning Commissioner, my mandate is to ensure that our Commission serves the residents of Ridgefield in a manner that is consistent with effective planning and zoning.

Why is this important for Ridgefield residents?

It means striking a balance between conservation and development, thereby preserving the character of the Town without stifling growth. My goal is to always evaluate planning and zoning projects with a discipline and rigor that results in the best outcome for Ridgefield. I am committed to soliciting input from from a broad swath of the town’s population during the review process. These measures are critical to our long term success.

I have a Master of City Planning degree from the University of Pennsylvania.  This degree provides me with the necessary perspective to be a highly effective member of the current and future Planning & Zoning Commission.

I thank you in advance for your vote.

Charles

 

For Zoning Board of Appeals

A 19-year Ridgefield resident, I decided to run for a full five-year term on the Zoning Board of Appeals after having served as analternate on the Board. My decision to run for ZBA reflects my desire to both take an active role in town government and ensure the enforcement of, and compliance with,local zoning laws in order to keep Ridgefield the fine community it has always been. I previously served two years on the Town Parking Authority and coached for many years in the Ridgefield Little League, Ridgefield Basketball Association and the Soccer Club of Ridgefield. A journalist by trade, I have past experience at the Associated Press and local newspapers where I covered planning and zoning commissions and the zoning board of appeals. I am currently the publications editor at the International Licensing Industry Merchandiser’s Association (LIMA), a trade association serving the trademark licensing industry. I have BA in English from Syracuse University. My wife, Joanne is a kindergarten teacher at Saint Mary’s School, while our daughter, Kathleen, a Ridgefield High School graduate, attends Boston College and my son, Sean, is currently a senior at Ridgefield High School.

I am 25 year resident of Ridgefield.  We raised our family in Westmoreland and currently reside in the lovely Bryon Avenue neighborhood.

For the past 12 years I have been working as a bookseller at Books on the Common on Main Street with a special interest in children’s books.  I have recently retired from a 40-year career as a speech and language pathologist working in the public schools and private practice.

During my years in Ridgefield I have supported our community through a variety of volunteer positions including girl scouts and cub scouts, little league baseball coaching, supporting the performing arts department at RHS, and post grad party organizing.  Currently, I help with Dorothy Day meal preparation and am a member of the boards of The Great Pond Club, The Discovery Center of Ridgefield and P.E. O. Chapter G, a philanthropic educational organization supporting women.

In recent years my interests have turned to the character of Ridgefield.  I have attended the public meetings to discuss the use of the Schlumberger property and the meetings of the Main Street Improvement committee.

Living close to town, I have been able to spend time walking through our community and learning more about Ridgefield and its residents close up.  Through a position on the Zoning Board of Appeals I would like to be a part of a town committee that helps to maintain Ridgefield’s special character and beauty.  Please support me with your vote on November 7th.

For Board of Assessment Appeals

Jeff Lundberg grew up in Cheshire, CT. Jeff is a U.S. Navy veteran and UConn graduate, from which he received a B.S. in Business. Jeff is a retired corporate human resources professional.

A resident of Ridgefield since 1997, Jeff, along with his lovely wife Ann, is active in many facets of our community. He is a member of the town’s CERT emergency response team, a member of the town’s Graveyard Committee, a member of the Ridgefield Men’s Club, a former dog walker at ROAR, and a past Board member of the Ridgefield Symphony. Jeff Lundberg has been a member of the town Board of Assessment Appeals since 2015.

I served for several years on the New Milford Board of Assessment Appeals. We met two sessions a year, both spanned over several weeks and were heavily booked.

During my first hearing of vehicle appeals we were using the NADA books. It was awkward and slow. So I obtained the on-line NADA Automobile Data system to check on vehicle assessments. This provided accurate identification of vehicles by VIN number, allowing quick corrections of errors or explanations on why the tax was correct.

Accuracy for real estate assessments was by use of fully coded property cards, and access to files in the Tax Assessors office. My understanding of these codes will help with the 2018 property reassessment.

Property owners with issues with their taxes should be heard. That’s every taxpayer’s right. The Board’s responsibility is to ensure this right is exercised fairly and legally.

I look forward to serving you.