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The Democrats will have a primary this election season for a seat on the Board of Fire Commissioners (BOFC). At its July 16 nominating convention, the Democratic Town Committee (DTC) voted to endorse Jennie Caldwell for the position over 24-year incumbent Peter Criscuolo.
As of Aug. 7, Criscuolo obtained 451 endorsement signatures from registered town Democrats, more than double the 220 required to trigger a primary vote to determine the Democratic candidate.
“I just want to thank everyone that helped me. It was a strict team effort,” Criscuolo said. “It was honoring and humbling to walk the streets and shake hands with over 500 people.”
Criscuolo said he came to the board with a passion for the job and said he will continue with experience.
“Being on the BOFC for 24 years, you can’t take away that experience,” he said. “I will do the best job anyone will ever ask of a Fire Commissioner and I think my record proves that.”
Criscuolo said he has raised $102,000 for firefighters’ equipment and attended fire training beyond his station. He said he also supported efforts to afford volunteer firefighters tax exemptions and advocated for paramedics on all shifts during his term.
Though he did not receive the DTC’s endorsement, Criscuolo has been endorsed by the North Haven Professional Firefighters Association and three local volunteer companies—Montowese Company 2, West Ridge Company 3, and Northeast Company 4.
Caldwell has been a resident of North Haven since 2006. She entered the race for the BOFC seat when the DTC decided not to endorse Criscuolo.
"I decided to run because I am a survivor of a fire and I know how important it is to have adequate emergency personnel because quick response for a fire department can save your life," Caldwell said.
Caldwell said she was alarmed when she learned that three of North Haven's four firehouses are not manned, leading to increases in response times.
"For me, that's a big concern," she said.
Caldwell holds an undergraduate degree in occupational therapy and special education. She said that her entire career has been spent on health care either in skilled nursing, in-home care, and in educational settings. She is also pursuing a master's degree in healthcare management.
She was elected to the Board of Education from 2011 to 2017, where she served as the chair of the policy committee. She said her goal was to be a voice for transparency.
"Throughout the course of my time on the BOE, I advocated for open, transparent conversations about the things that the school district needed and being able to use data to have informed discussion and have informed decision making," she said. "I would do the same with the BOFC."
Caldwell said many residents are unaware of the staffing problems faced by the fire department. She said she would support Chief Paul Januszewski's requests for more staff.
"I think residents should really be made aware of what the issues are and have some ability to have input about where our money goes," Caldwell said. "I will bring a fresh perspective" to the BOFC.
The Republican Town Committee nominated incumbent fire commissioner Mary Jane Mulligan to retain her seat on the BOFC in the November election.
The Democratic primary will be held for all registered North Haven Democrats on Tuesday, Sept. 10. The first day for absentee ballots is Tuesday, Aug. 20. Absentee ballots can be issued through Monday, Sept. 9. For absentee ballot information, contact the Registrars of Voters at 203-239-5321 ext. 640 or the Town Clerk's Office at 203-239-5321 ext. 630 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
All normal polling places will be open on primary election day.
Editor's note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated the last day for absentee ballots is Tuesday, Aug. 20; that is the first day.
District 1: M. Wakeley Recreation Center, Linsley Street
District 2: Montowese Elementary School, 145 Fitch Street
District 3: 34 Ridge Road Elementary School, 1341 Ridge Road
District 4: Green Acres Elementary School, 146 Upper State Street
District 5: Clintonville Elementary School, 456 Clintonville Road
Editor's note: This story has been updated to include commentary from Jennie Caldwell, who spoke with the Courier after press time for print publication.
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