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On Tuesday, Nov. 5, voters in Clinton will head to the polls with a chance to cast a historic vote: the election of the seven members of the inaugural Town Council. The Harbor News is providing a rundown of the race and has compiled a list of candidate statements from each of the 11 endorsed candidates who will appear on the ballot.
The candidates that voters will see on the ballot are:
• Democrats Christine Goupil, Tim Guerra, Jack Scherban, and Dara Onofrio;
• Republicans Chris Aniskovich, Carol Walter, Mark Richards, and Dennis Donovan;
• Green Party candidate Eric Bergman; and
• petitioning candidates Leah Saunders and Jane Scully Welch.
On the ballot, there will be one section for candidates running for a four-year term and one section for candidates who are running a two-year term. Seven candidates will appear under both sections. Those candidates are Aniskovich, Bergman, Donovan, Goupil, Guerra, Onofrio, and Richards.
Voters may vote for those particular candidates in either or both the two- and four-year term categories.
If any of those seven candidates win both a four-year term and a two-year term, they will be required to choose on election night which term length they are going to serve. There will be a total of seven people seated on the new council.
Once seated, the Town Council will take on many of the actions that currently fall under the jurisdiction of the Board of Selectmen (BOS). These actions include approving appointments to boards and commissions and enacting new ordinances. The Town Council will be the body that reviews the final candidates for the town manager position and has the authority to hire and fire the manager (with a vote of at least five in favor of either move). The town manager that the town will hire will take on many of the duties that the First Selectmen has traditionally handled.
Goupil’s administration has focused on actions designed to help the town capture the potential that so many see in the town. There are new developments at the old Morgan School, Unilever property, and the train station. The town refinanced $7 million in debt and passed a town and education on the first referendum for only the second time since 2009. However, some in town have also been critical of the direction that the town has gone in over the current term. Walter in particular has been vocal of what she termed a tendency by the first selectman to “micromanage” and “nitpick,” which Walter contends has hindered progress in Clinton.
Goupil pushed back on those criticisms, stating that she’s helped install new process and practices to she feels help the town run smoothly and protect the town from liability issues.
“I’ve defended the taxpayer’s money by making sure employees follow the best practices. We have employees that do above and beyond and they should be praised for their work,” Goupil said.
The candidates for the Town Council draw from various backgrounds in town. Goupil, Walter, Scherban, and Guerra are all currently members of the BOS, where Goupil serves as first selectman.
Scully Welch, Onofrio, and Saunders all have recent Board of Finance experience. Guerra and Donovan are members of the Town Manager Search Committee that is helping to finalize a list of candidates for the town manager position.
Here is what the candidates themselves had to say.
Chris Aniskovich (R)
I am running for Town Council because I care about our community and want to make Clinton a better place to live, work and raise a family. I will be a council member who puts the best interest of our community ahead of politics. This is the way I have served the town as a commission member in the past and it’s the way I intend to serve you as a council member in the future. You can trust what I have done, not just what I say I will do. My approach to local government is simple: Listen to and serve others. It’s important to put aside personal agendas and focus on what’s best for whole community when making decisions that affect the future growth of our town.
As we continue to develop major projects in town, specifically Unilever and the old Morgan School site, we need to make decisions based on sound economic development principles that will help us control the tax burden on our hard-working families and our seniors. If elected, I will be that kind of council member and so I ask for your support on Nov. 5!
Eric Bergman (G)
I am asking for your vote on Nov. 5 as a candidate for the new Clinton Town Council. I am running with the Clinton Green Party, an activist organization that has attracted a number of supporters from a variety of backgrounds and political interests.
Effective Nov. 19, Clinton will transition to a council/manager form of local government as directed by our new Town Charter. With this dramatic change will come the desperate need of elected representatives to reflect the wishes of the voters. We need people who are willing to listen, learn, propose and direct, foregoing any political agenda other than an agenda of a highly functioning and healthy town.
I believe that we can start to revitalize downtown; we can make our town financially stable; we can promote development that benefits all of Clinton; and we can once again create a culture of civic duty and responsibility among our citizens.
I intend to be sitting in one of the seven Town Council seats this fall, helping to ensure transparency, provide vision, enforce accountability, and help direct this town in the direction we all seek, desire, and deserve.
Dennis Donovan (R)
My experience on the Charter Study Commission and the Town Manager Search Committee gives me the insight as to what will be expected of the new manager/council government, to ensure its proper implementation—in particular, the upcoming budget preparation for 2020-’21.
My reputation is as a selectman and Board of Finance member who listened to the concerns of the residents of Clinton and initiated policies to alleviate those concerns. I have a strong spending background of not wasting taxpayer’s money while accomplishing necessary projects and improvements.
I am dedicated to the youth of this town, through the years by supporting programs and facilities to give our youth the quality environment for growth. My reputation reflects my willingness to work with others from all parties to get the job done and give the residents the leadership they deserve.
Finally, as councilman, I will continue to seek out the concerns of the residents and will ensure that they are addressed, whether they be tax relief, economic development, senior issues, educational programs, or planning and zoning policies.
Christine Goupil (D)
Over the past 22 months, my role as first selectman has been to drive forward a positive Clinton message. During this time, I’ve achieved charter reform to establish a professional town manager position and change to a town council, created an arts district to stimulate activity in our downtown, and held numerous business resource forums to support our local business community. We have new restaurants added to the downtown and officially designated Blue/Greenway trail for healthy lifestyles. I wrote and received the grant for the Route 81 Corridor Study. I secured FEMA reimbursements for Sandy and Irene damages, created a senior task force, and refinanced our bond debt to save the town more than $758,000 in debt service. I supported the creation of a tax incentive policy. The old Morgan School is under contract for Indian River Landing. I applied for and the town was awarded the $55,000 state grant to design a wastewater system to effectively market and sell the Unilever property now with plans for a brewery and sports faculty. The train station upgrades are underway; when completed, we’ll have six to eight more trains each day. I’m asking for your vote to keep Clinton moving forward.
Tim Guerra (D)
There are two very critical reasons why the Clinton taxpayers should consider voting for me for Town Council come November. One is my experience and second is I can be trusted to make the best decisions on behalf of the residents.
That is what I have done for the past 14 years, 12 on the Planning & Zoning Commission and the last two on the Board of Selectman (BOS). I always ask myself, “What is the right thing to do?”
Most important, on the BOS, I’ve been a part in saving the townspeople $2 million in taxes, economic development is progressing at the old high school and Unilever. I’ve been the BOS representative on the Economic Development Commission. I continue to support our police and fire departments and Department of Public Works and library. Our school system is making good decisions on behalf of the town. Pierson is a great example. I’ve been diligently asking to help our seniors and a senior task force has been created. A new train station is coming. Quality of life is improving.
There is more to do. Two years is not enough. I ask for your vote. Let me continue moving Clinton forward.
Dara Onofrio (D)
I am running for Town Council and would appreciate your vote on Nov. 5. My interest in running for Town Council stems from my desire to do good and use my professional skills to make our community a better place to live. I believe that we all want the same things for Clinton, including having a robust and safe community, meaningful job opportunities, community development, programs and services that fulfill our needs, fiscal responsibility, and transparency and integrity in our processes.
As a practicing attorney for more than 25 years, I am a problem solver, fair-minded, and I make decisions based on the facts. I always listen respectfully and weigh differing opinions to determine what’s best for the entire community rather than what’s best for a specific neighbor or friend.
I will be prepared to evaluate the issues of the day, listen to all of the parties, and treat everyone with dignity, respect, and fairness. Together, with your input and support, I will endeavor to make the best decisions for Clinton so we can move forward to meet the challenges of the future.
Mark Richards (R)
I’ll support policies and initiatives that enhance our way of life in Clinton with careful attention to our town’s history and character. In a few weeks, the voters of Clinton will decide the tenor and tone of our new form of government, Town Council. It’s imperative we elect the right mix of individuals, able to work together, regardless of political parties to solve the issues before us.
The first hurdle is hiring a town manager, who will be the chief operating officer of the town. The second is provide the new manager with total support, so that she, or he, will be successful.
I ask that you vote for me because of my ability to work well with others, to value opposing points of view, to be able to form a consensus among different interests, to support the need for more commercial development to expand our tax base and reduce the burden on individual homeowners, and finally my history of service to Clinton as a member of the Zoning Board of Appeals for more than 30 years.
I’ve successfully faced similar challenges that Clinton faces today and I ask that you allow me to be a part of the solution.
Leah Marie Saunders (P)
I chose to run for Town Council as an unaffiliated candidate to give a voice to the unrepresented and unaffiliated, independent voters of Clinton. This community has grown out of the major, two-party system, and the people of Clinton deserve better.
I am a leader, and frequently move ahead of the pack as a trailblazer who understands and applies principles of collaboration and compromise. I am comfortable working in that zone with like-minded people no matter their party affiliations. I am not afraid to go against the grain to question and challenge others. At times I have been criticized but have remained focused and determined in my convictions. I gather information and ask questions before setting a course and making decisions. I am not a follower who goes along to get along. Clinton does not need followers on the first-ever Town Council.
I have an impeccable work ethic that will serve the Town of Clinton and its stakeholders. My love for Clinton along with my verifiable, practical experience, and record of service will enhance the Town Council to make it work for all taxpayers. I respectfully ask for your vote on Nov. 5.
Jack Scherban (D)
For the last two years, as a member of the Board of Selectmen, I have worked diligently to advance the economic development of the Town of Clinton. The old Morgan School site has been sold and will be developed. The Unilever site has been purchased and will be developed, and our long-awaited train station is currently under construction.
The list of recent accomplishments is very impressive, but I would like to be very clear about the issues I would like to pursue in the future.
We must continue to attract new businesses to our town, so that we can broaden the tax base, and as a result, we reduce the burden on taxpayers.
We need to support the needs of our senior citizens by establishing a senior center here in town.
As we continue to move forward into our future, we must carefully preserve our historical past.
The new Town Council will face many challenges, but voters have the opportunity to elect seven honest, hard-working, goal-driven candidates. I am one of those candidates who has proven in the past that I will serve the best interests of the Town of Clinton. I welcome the opportunity to serve my town.
Carol Walter (R)
Thanks to Clinton voters, I’ve been a member of the Board of Selectmen since 2009. During these 10 years, I’ve worked with three first selectmen and 10 other members of the board. It’s been a fantastic and educational experience. Each person brought his or her own opinions and agendas to the table, but I think the reason for my tenure and success has been my ability to represent and speak out for voters.
I never forget the people who voted for me and the fact that I represent their values and way of thinking. I’m a taxpayer on a fixed income and my goal is always to maximize what Clinton does with those hard-earned taxpayer dollars. I’m never afraid to say “No” to unjustified expenditures or ill-planned ideas. On the flip side, I greatly encourage projects that reach every household and for movement that will benefit us all. I truly answer to the people who voted for me.
People who know me describe me as fearless. I’ve taken my share of criticism from the sour grapes group, but I’m proud of my record of standing up for what’s right and will continue to do so on the Town Council.
Jane Scully Welch (P)
One of my goals, if elected, is to help pick the town manager. I want to help him transition Clinton into the future, but instill in him the ways we were—small town, open door policies, people first—we don’t want to lose that. I want to show him all of Clinton—all the places and more importantly the faces of Clinton. We the people—all of us have been weaved into the tapestry that is Clinton and we are its soul.
I am running as an unaffiliated voter. That means I am not beholden to either party only Clinton. We have about 4,500 unaffiliated voters; how many of them out there are interested in serving on a commission or board? I know many of you are talented, smart, and willing and deserve a chance to help govern this town I want to make it easier for all. Clinton needs new blood!
A vote for Jane Scully Welch is a vote for Clinton!
Polls at are open at Town Hall from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Absentee ballots can be obtained by contacting the town clerk. Voters can register to vote at Town Hall up until noon the day before election day, as well as at the Town Hall on election day. More information about the election can be found atwww.zip06.com/election.
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