District 1, 3, 4 Town Council candidates share views

By Denise Coffey - Staff Writer
Killingly - posted Tue., Oct. 22, 2013

Candidates for District 1:

Joyce Ricci (D) said, “We need economic development for downtown. We need restaurants and businesses, but that isn’t the only concern for Killingly. My district is important but we need to find an industrial park site. I think Westcott Road would be an excellent site.
“We have to find a new town manager. I’m reading five proposals to hire a consulting firm to look for a town manager.  We are going to look at these proposals this week, so I’m comparing them and I’m treating them seriously. There’s so much information.

“I’ve been to 964 houses. I’m not finished. I’ve talked to people. I’ve always run this way. Every two years I go to every house and I talk to the people to see what they want. I’ve had fantastic conversations with people. I left 400 stickers saying, ‘Sorry I missed you. If you have any questions please call me.’ It gives me an opportunity to have conversations with people on a personal level.

“This position requires a tremendous amount of time, and I have the time. Most weeks I go to two or three meetings a week. I thoroughly enjoy it. It’s not work.

“I’m very aware that some of the people I have fantastic conversations with are not going to vote, or may not vote for me. But I still talk with them. They are still constituents. You don’t have to vote for me to be in my district.”

Richard Levola (D) said, “Downtown revitalization is one of the top projects, especially on Water Street.  We need to get that redone and have two-way traffic all the way from Main Street to Congress Avenue. Right now there is a portion that is one-way and a portion that is two-way.

“We need to get this sewer project completed. Construction is supposed to start on Commerce Avenue any time. People have been putting up with the smell for a long time. It’s been a good five years. The town says they don’t have many complaints, but people get sick and tired of calling. There are just a few calls on record.

“I’ve been on the Town Council for two years. I have some experience working with budgets. I worked for 30 years with the board of education. I was a transportation supervisor and director of transportation. I’ve got some experience in budgeting.

“I’m not a 'yes' person. I’ll vote my opinions. If the majority always votes yes it doesn’t mean I’m going to. I have to really analyze the situation depending on the question. I worked with board of education budgets, and submitted budgets for the transportation department. I was fire chief for 33 years, so I can present a budget to the town council every year.”

Tammy Wakefield (R) said, "The main issue facing Killingly is the economy. National and state economics will trickle down to us. People continue to struggle. They are still trying to make ends meet. We have many capital projects that we need to start paying down on. There will always be capital projects that we’ll have to find ways to fund. Then trying to hold the tax base steady. Our revaluation comes in next year. The numbers are going to be really rough because everything is down. Properties are worth less. That’s going to have an impact on our taxes and our ability to provide the services that we’ve been providing in town.

“Ultimately what I bring as a candidate is that I’m active in the community. I know a lot of groups and I think ultimately to get us through these difficult times we need to start collaborating and working together. If we do that, I think it will get us through this time and put us in a better place in the next couple of years.”

Candidates for District 3:

Peter Kissa (D) said, “Killingly has suffered immensely over the last decade because of internal bickering and inflated egos.  Having said that, let me suggest a vision that most taxpayers could embrace and would be possible through renewed leadership; a leadership I think I can help bring about. I am a candidate for the Town Council in the third district and the following is what I’m about.

“Our town has for years struggled to pass budgets, not for lack of effort by our councilors, but a lack of vision and plan for the future.  Our infrastructure is in terrible shape; our roads are a disgrace; our waste treatment plant still smells after spending millions; we still have no plan in place for our older school buildings; our old KHS, now our community center, is a literal money pit, our town garage should have been replaced and moved years ago, and despite a new $81 million high school we still have unmotivated students who regularly skip school due to lack of opportunities in our community.

“Our career Town Councilors lack vision to put a plan together to address any of these problems.  No councilor should be re-elected unless they demonstrate a vision and some measure of accomplishment during their tenure.  Voters in the Third District were good enough to embrace my candidacy in 2005-2007, and I produced. With the assistance of the Town Manager, I authored our current Procurement Ordinance.  This ordinance is still in place and governs every aspect of our financial affairs in town.  It laid the foundation for responsible contractors to do business with our town, and gave opportunities for preferential consideration for the hiring of Killingly residents.

“At the end of the day we should all be judged on what we accomplish, not what we argue.  If the voters in the Third District embrace my candidacy, I can assure them that I will do something to address the issues.”

John Sarantopoulos (I) said, “Education has got to be the most important issue because it takes up 75 percent of the town’s budget. We have to get people working. How can they pay taxes if they aren’t working? We need a living wage for our workers.

“I’ve lived in Killingly for most of my life, graduating from Killingly High School in 1957. I enlisted in the United States Marine Corps and served until honorably discharged in 1960. Some of my work experiences, interests and accomplishments include the following: Truck driver for 30 years; elected three terms as principal union officer of Teamster local 493 from 1993 through 2001 and retired from that office; created the first Multi Employer 401K Plan in the USA. (Teamsters International Multi Employer 401K Plan); served as Trustee of a $200 million health care fund (Tri-State Teamster Insurance Fund). I served on the Board of Directors for Southeastern CT United Way, and the United Way Gemma Moran Food Center in New London. I’ve served on the Killingly Community Center Renovation Committee, the Transportation Investment Area Committee (TIA I-395), the Connecticut Transportation Strategy Board (TSB), the Northeast Economic Development Board, was vice-chair of the Killingly library building committee and vice-chair and chairman of the Killingly Permanent Building Commission.

"I was elected to the Killingly Town Council for District Three. I am currently serving the remainder of the third two-year term.
“I’m responsible for initiating the memorial plaques for Korean and Vietnam era veterans that are displayed at the high school. My wife Linnea and I have been married for 49 years. We have two children and grandchildren.

“I believe deeply that community service is a responsibility of every citizen of the United States, the state one resides in and the community one calls home. Seventy-five years of experience and being retired allows me the opportunity to give back to my home town, state and country.”

Dennis Alemian (R) said, “Right now the biggest issue is promoting economic development. The Economic Development Commission has promoted a study to identify sites for a new industrial park. That’s a great idea. We’re at capacity in our present location. We’ve got great companies over there, but we can’t expand that area, so we’ve been looking for a different site and that’s a major push forward that we have to take to locate an area to attract businesses.

“There is no zip code for Killingly. All of our businesses in the industrial park have a Dayville zip code. There is nothing about Killingly on their letterheads or the DOT signs on the side of trucks traveling throughout new England and the country. There is nothing in there to advertise Killingly.

“When someone from the outside comes and they Google Killingly, nothing comes up. We have to promote ourselves and make ourselves recognizable. We are part of a global economy now. We should be promoting our goods throughout the world.
The Economic Development coordinator and town manager have been working on that with the U.S. Postal Service, but they aren’t getting anywhere. It would mean changing one of the post offices. The Danielson P.O. would have to stay the same because of the nature of its location in the borough of Danielson. The idea would be to change Dayville to a Killingly post office. That would take care of the industrial park.

“Take Rogers Corporation. It’s a worldwide corporation with plants in China. It’s headquartered in Killingly. It’s nice for the company to say they are from Rogers, Conn., but as far as our town goes, we need to take pride in our town.

“I’ve prided myself that I can get along and work with most people. I understand that there are some out there who may not be crazy about me. But I conduct myself as a gentleman. I try to make decisions that best serve the community as a whole. I try to have levelheaded leadership. I raised family here. My children went through the school system. It was a great education for them. I’m proud of my town. I’m proud of my community. I’m dedicated to my family, my job and the public life that I’ve chosen.”

Candidates for District 4:

Gail Pratt (D) said, "The major issues facing the Town of Killingly include hiring a new Town Manager.  I’d like to see us hire someone who has a proven administrative record, good interpersonal and personnel skills, a finance background, and who understands small towns and the unique problems they face.  To help find this special someone, I would like to see a search committee formed that is made up of staff, elected and appointed officials and townspeople.

"Economic development is another issue. This would include expanding our own industrial park and taking a serious look into joining Putnam in a Regional Technical Park (RTP).  I've heard reports that, when fully developed, the RTP could bring in some 1,200 jobs.  I know that Putnam wants to find a partner town to maximize grant funding – I believe a town can get up to a 50 percent reimbursement from the state, but when two towns work together, that figure jumps to 75 percent.  While the land is in Putnam, another town could share expenses and get a piece of the tax dollars coming in from the park, but, I think the only way Killingly could seriously consider this would be if the towns formed a special tax district.  Two additional things about this project that interest me are that the RTP is part of Putnam's Plan of Conservation and Development and its goal is to target “green” manufacturers.

"Many of our schools and town buildings are in need of maintenance and repair.  We must prioritize these projects and have proper oversight of them, fully utilizing the Permanent Building Commission when appropriate. 

“I’m open-minded, listening to all sides before making a firm decision.  I do my research and believe that town officials always have an obligation to be fully-prepared and knowledgeable before voting on an issue.  I have plenty of experience, having served two years on the Planning & Zoning Commission, one term on the Town Council and three terms on the Killingly Board of Education.  I know how things work.  On the other hand, I’ve also had the opportunity to see what is going on from a resident perspective, having not held an elected position for the last five years, and I think we can do better.  I’d like to bring a more reasoned approached to our decision making and try to get the Council to work more cooperatively with each other and with the community. 

John Hallbergh (I) said, "There are a number of major issues facing Killingly. The first is the selection of a new Town Manager and Town Engineer. These decisions will be critical to the future of the town. The second is the placement and development of a new industrial park. Our industrial park is at capacity and we have very limited industrial sites available.  This is crucial to continued economic growth and stability on our tax base. The third is the continuing improvement of our infrastructure.  Our buildings and roads are aging and are in need of considerable monitory commitments to keep them in good condition.

“I have served on the Town Council for 12 years (over a span of 18 years).  I understand how municipal government works and the budget process and how it affects the town.  I am an Independent with no party affiliation and am running as a write-in candidate in this election.  My main focus is to help move the Town of Killingly forward."

Brian Gosper (R) said, "The main issues include hiring a new town manager, making important capital decisions on our town buildings and schools, working with Board of Education to find ways to lower cost yet provide the best education we can (this MUST include lobbying in Hartford to reduce mandates and provide more local control), locating a new industrial park location, setting favorable conditions to attract businesses and help drive the local economy.

I am a sales professional and have had a lot of management experience in the past as well. All of my positions have included budget preparation and compliance as well as setting and achieving goals. I am also the treasurer of our church in Foster so I understand the challenges that an organization faces fiscally.

“I am seeking reelection to continue my goal of looking out for Killingly by voting in a fiscally conservative manner to keep taxes as low as possible and oppose any unnecessary spending, develop and support ways to expand Killingly’s business base, and maintain the character of our town while not infringing on the rights of homeowners and businesses.”

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