GOP primaries: BOE candidate bios
There are 12 candidates running for nine Republican spots on the ballot for the Board of Education in the November election. Below are small biographies submitted by the candidates. The incumbents are noted. The candidates are listed in alphabetical order.
John Fitzgerald (R)
Fitzgerald is a lifelong resident of Shelton. He attended grammar schools in Shelton, he graduated from St. Joseph’s High School in Trumbull before attending and graduating from WPI in Worchster, Mass., in 1975 and then going forward to receive his B.S .in civil construction management in 1979. Like his grandfather before him, he has always had a passion for building. He has worked for P J Stella Construction in Massachusetts, as the co-owner of Erin Associates in Shelton and now heads JK Fitzgerald Construction Co. in Shelton. He has provided residents in Shelton and surrounding towns with some of the best built homes in the area that have incredible curb appeal, he says. He is also a property manager, provides excavations services, general contracting and construction maintenance consulting services.
Fitzgerald has utilized his building expertise and construction management services to give back to Shelton as a community service volunteer especially to the Shelton Public Schools. He is currently vice chairman of he Shelton Housing Authority and recently over saw the rehabilitation of senior apartments on River Road. He was an intractable part of the $25 million Shelton High School Building and Renovation Commission and has worked on the renovations committees of Mohegan, Elizabeth Shelton, Long Hill, the Perry Hill schools, along with the Shelton High sprinkler system renovation project and the building of the Shelton Intermediate School in the early 90s.
Anne Gaydos (R), incumbent
Current job: Self-employed freelance graphic designer.
Education: Red Hook High School, Red Hook, N.Y.; SUNY Plattsburgh, Plattsburgh, N.Y.
The most important issue in this election: I will continue to be an advocate for our children, placing their needs first while balancing a competitive learning environment with a responsible budget. It is important to me that we ensure that our children are well-prepared and given the proper tools and skills they need for a challenging world they will face when they graduate from Shelton High School.
Other issues: Education is an important investment in the future of the city of Shelton. The quality of our school system is directly proportionate to our property values. In order to make Shelton the best it can be, we need to have open communication and a good working relationship with the Board of Aldermen to ensure our children have equal representation as do other citizens of our community. The education of our children should not be ignored.
Family: Husband, Michael Gaydos; 10-year-old daughter, Samantha, who is a fifth grader at Perry Hill School.
Previous elected offices, community group affiliations: Shelton BOE Teaching and Learning Committee chair and Finance Committee vice chair; Shelton Public Schools Strategic Plan Committee; Shelton Community Vision Coalition; PTO member and classroom volunteer, former Parks & Rec commissioner (2016-2017).
Campaign website: www.facebook.com/hereforshelton.
Mark Holden (R), incumbent
Current job: The Holden Agency - insurance agent.
Education: Trumbull High School; Florida Tech.
The most important issue in this election: The BOE needs to leverage the budget to improve school resources and move Shelton schools to the top 25% for student achievement in Connecticut.
Other issues: Help the BoA see the connection between school quality and property values. Transition to a 1:1 technology program so every student has full-time access to a chromebook or another suitable device. This will ultimately help us reduce expenses for textbooks. Develop resources to bring more SPED programs in house.
Family: Wendy and I got married in 2001. We have two cats - Sadie and MinnieMe.
Previous elected offices, community group affiliations: Shelton Board of Education - eight years, seven as chairman. Board of Apportionment and Taxation - six years, four as chairman, one as acting chairman. Member of Shelton Empowers (substance abuse action council), Shelton Community Vision Council, Stratford CERT team (Shelton doesn’t have one), US Jaycees certified trainer, Connecticut Jaycees management vice president, individual development vice president, regional director, district director, former Project Astro teaching astronomer assigned to Ansonia and Trumbull schools, BHcare Board of Directors - 25 years. Birmingham Foundation Board of Directors - 25 years, Healthways Inc. (BHcare subsidiary that ran Umbrella Domestic Violence Program) six years on Board of Directors, three years as chairman. president - Boothe Memorial Astronomical Society, past Master Fidelity St. Johns Lodge #3.
Campaign website: www.facebook.com/hereforshelton.
Tom Minotti (R), incumbent
Current job: Retired/part-time college adjunct professor.
Education: Fairfield Prep; University of Bridgeport; M.S., M.S.+30.
The most important issue in this election: Maintaining a balanced fiscal budget.
Other issues: Purchasing appropriate educational resources, Researching and developing programs for all students, providing for a safe educational environment, improving community relations and communication with the Board of Aldermen.
Family: Nancy and I are presently married 56 years. We moved to Shelton during the blizzard of ‘78. We have four children (now grown adults) that have graduated from Shelton High School and college. We have eight grandchildren; six have graduated from SHS and are in or graduated from college, and two are in Shelton public schools. Three of our adult siblings and their children live in Shelton.
Previous elected offices, community group affiliations: Shelton Water Pollution Control Authority committee member, Shelton Employee Grievance Committee, reader and volunteer at St. Margaret Mary Church(Shelton) Barnum Festival Committee volunteer, Columbus Day Parade Committee volunteer, Knights of Columbus Fourth Degree, and Aspetuck Village Condominium Association director and secretary. I have been elected to the Shelton Board of Education for 12 years.
Campaign website: facebook.com/hereforshelton.
James Orazietti (R)
Work experience: Retired from Sikorsky Aircraft.
Education: Shelton; CCSU.
The most important issue in this election: Accountability.
Other issues: The return of effective cooperating communication between City Hall and the BOE is paramount to the end goal of quality education for our students.
Family: Married. Wife, Sharon, daughter, Kelly.
Previous elected offices, community group affiliations: Youth coach; former assistant registrar of voters; conservation commissioner; Perry Hill school building committee vice chair; four terms on the Board of Education; current Public Improvement Building Committee and Zoning Board of Appeals member.
Ruth Parkins (R)
Parkins has resided in Shelton for more than 40 years and has two daughters who have both attended Shelton public schools. She is employed by the Iroquois Pipeline Operating Co. where she is the public and government relations specialist. She is a cumma sum laude graduate of Sacred Heart University with a B.S. in business administration and earned her M.S. in business and public administration from the University of New Haven.
As an active member and community leader, Parkins served as a member of the Shelton Planning & Zoning Commission for 10 years and as its chairperson from 2009-2017. She is currently a member of the executive board of the Valley United Way’s board of directors, and an executive board of member for the Shelton Economic Development Corporation, and president of the Meadow Lake Condo Association.
Parkins has been the recipient of several prestigious community awards, most notably the Greater Valley Chamber of Commerce Gold Seal Award, the Shelton Economic Development Raymond P. Lavietes Award for Outstanding Leadership and Vision and the Valley United Way Charles H. Flynn Humanitarian Award.
Parkin’s business and leadership experience will bring valuable insight to the Board of Education day-to-day operations and promote better public relations and understanding with the citizens of Shelton.
Ben Perry (R)
I am a lifetime resident of Shelton. I have been married to my wife, Christen (also a lifetime resident) for 20 years, with two daughters both currently in the Shelton public school system.
I am a private business owner dedicated to the continued development of the city of Shelton and doing the best for our city, its schools and families. I went through the Shelton school system and am dedicated to doing what’s best for Shelton’s children. My father-in-law was the superintendent of Shelton public schools for 18 years and was an inspiration to me in seeking a seat on the BOE and serving our schools and residents.
As an advocate of helping educate children, I served for three years a board of director of the Boys & Girls Club of Lower Naugatuck Valley and am a member of the Boys & Girls Hall of Fame. The Boys & Girls Club provides a safe environment for children with programs that inspire, educate, guide, and enable all young people to realize their full potential as productive, responsible and caring citizens.
I am a 10-year member and currently a board of director in the Friends of Jimmy Miller, Inc. charity. The Friends of Jimmy Miller, Inc. is dedicated to raising funds to support programs that benefit children in crisis.
Many of these programs and services deal with positive reinforcement, teaching life skills and adolescent development.
As a member of these organizations and their boards who currently provide services to children in Shelton, I would welcome the opportunity to serve the residents of our city on the Shelton Board of Education and help make our schools and their programs the best they can be to provide a quality education for all our children.
Darlisa Ritter (R), incumbent
Work experience: I taught for 40 years in the Shelton public school system. I am retired.
Education: Graduated from Shelton High School in 1969; Western CT State University, B.S. in elementary education with concentrations in science and math; University of Bridgeport, M.S., sixth year, doctorates in education management/leadership and human resources.
The most important issue in this election: My top issue is addressing students needs and directing funds to support student progress through effective practices. I will be using 40 years of knowledge, skills and leadership from local and state level experiences to reorganize and manage resources to accomplish this goal.
Other issues: Of equal importance to me is to enact Board of Education policies and procedures that support transparency and accountability for decisions and the school budget for now and the future.
Family: I am a member of a fifth generation Shelton family. My daughter and I still reside on the family property. I was married to the late Daniel C. Ritter.
Previous elected offices, community group affiliations: Current Board of Education member, member of Shelton Senior Center, National Educator and Milken Family Foundation member. Also served as board member, of which three years were chair, of the CT State Department of Education, Celebration of Excellence Program, five years as chair and member for the CT State Department Bureau of Certification and Professional Development and Accreditation Review Team.
Carl Rizzo (R)
Rizzo is a graduate of some of the same Shelton schools his two children graduated from. A 49-year resident of Shelton, he has been actively involved in Shelton civic associations, including St. Margaret Mary’s Church Men’s League and Shelton National Little League, where he has served as vice president for the past 20 years. He has also served as president of Shelton Travel Baseball for the past three years. These non-profits have required creative use of limited funding to succeed, a discipline he would like to bring to the Board of Education.
Rizzo holds degrees in electrical engineering technology and information technology, serving as an ultrasound technical support instructor and technical liaison to Japan for Hitachi Healthcare Americas. Working at the intersection of two vital and growing industries - technology and healthcare, Rizzo knows the skills we must equip our children with today in order for them to succeed in tomorrow’s workforce.
Amy Romano (R)
A Connecticut native, Romano has been a longtime Shelton resident for more than 15 years where she and her husband, Mark, have raised three sons. Two of their sons are currently in the Shelton public schools and their eldest son will enter college this fall. Romano has been an active Shelton school system volunteer for the past 10 years.
Upon moving to Shelton in 2004, Romano realized the potential Shelton had to offer to families from a total community standpoint including affordable homes, lower tax base, and a great public school system. Romano’s focus and passion, personally and professionally, is building a better Shelton community. She and her husband have worked together to build and develop Romano Brothers Builders, their privately-owned business in Shelton, primarily on developing single family residential properties.
With a degree in interior design from Paier College of Art, Romano has spent the last two decades in real estate, business development and construction industries. Her early career includes over a decade of work managing large-scale retail interior design projects across Fairfield and Westchester counties. She is also a licensed real estate agent since 2007 and currently works with Real Estate Two located in Shelton. She has also managed multi-million dollar project budgets, including the oversight of public financing with the state of Connecticut.
Romano is running for her first term as a member of the Board of Education. She said she would like to further her community involvement by serving the Shelton public schools. Her business acumen and skills will help manage budgets, priorities, and investments in our schools as an active member of the board, said Romano. As a mother of three, Romano said she relates to families in Shelton and realizes the importance of developing our public-school system; and through which providing the opportunity needed to support our future economy. She said she believes strategic investments in the school system is key with being fiscally responsible.
Don Stanziale, Jr. (R)
Work history: Owner and operator, Midland Development Co.; owner of Stanziale’s Restaurant, which we had for 10 years. We contributed to the town of Stratford through the restaurant with several fundraisers. We also helped with the Vicki Soto race every year.
School history: Graduated from Shelton High School in 1983.
Family: Met my wife, Kim, who was born and raised in Shelton, in 1985. Moved back to Shelton in 1995. We have two children who went through the Shelton school system. His son, Don III, works for Turner Construction and lives in Shelton. His daughter, Dominique, is in nursing school at University of Bridgeport.
Why you want to be a elected official: We decided to move back to Shelton so our children could attend the school system that my wife and I attended. It is important to me that I am involved in the Shelton Board of Education to ensure that the money allocated to the board will be used to directly benefit the students and teacjhers that support their learning. Now that my children have all graduated, I see that the foundation created during their early years of education is so important. I want to make decisions toward continued improvements that will benefit my future grandchildren and the children of our future classes.
Any city or municipal committee or experience: I was on the building committee for the fifth and sixth grade school in Shelton.
Athletic or club affiliations: I was a member of the Fathers’ Club at Mohegan School for 15 years. During that time, he participated in numerous activities with the students and was part of the club when it built the playground.
Kathleen Yolish (R), incumbent
Work experience: Retired Shelton educator.
Education: St Joseph High School; Sacred Heart University - B.A.; Southern Connecticut State University - M.A.
The most important issue in this election: My goals include the following: to bring the Board of Education, the mayor and Board of Aldermen together as a working team, discussing budgetary needs with a strong focus on more transparency in finance, school safety issues, reinstituting a joint technology committee and forming a strong coalition for the children, staff, parents and taxpayers in Shelton.
Other issues: To find monies for more guidance counselors, social workers, paraprofessionals, academic support tutors and needed staff; to work to find ways to fund the cost of the unfunded mandates that the State of CT imposes on the school system; to meet the challenges of the “Smarter Balance” (SBAC) assessments and resolve to help students achieve their greatest potential by analyzing scores and using data to continue to drive instruction while focusing on individualized pupil needs.
Family: I have lived in Shelton for more than 55 years. My family owned and operated businesses in the community for many years. My husband of 44 years is Norman and I have a 14-year-old Morkie named Kinzy Bean.
Previous elected offices, community group affiliations: Former chair and vice chair of BOE Policy Committee, Teaching & Learning Committee, former Finance Committee, liaison BOE and SEA, chairman of Full Day Kindergarten Committee, Shelton Dog Park Committee, JA in a Day volunteer, Shelton elementary school volunteer, author of educational articles for quarterly issues of Shelton Life Magazine, contributor to local news media, supporter of Shelton Animal Shelter and parishioner of St. Margaret Mary Church in Shelton.