Education, Aldermen boards welcome new members

Just as Shelton’s Board of Alderman and Education recently said goodbye to some of its senior members, they welcomed some key replacements with open arms not long after.

Despite the city’s Board of Education losing three veteran members when Faith Hack, Win Oppel and Arlene Liscinsky all announced they wouldn’t be running for re-election come November, Chair Mark Holden said he’s confident the board will fill its vacancies with strong new members.

All of the city’s Board of Education spots are up for election this November.

With Liscinsky stepping down from her position as of Sept. 1, the board temporarily replaced her with a candidate they view as a strong asset.

Amanda “Mandy” Kilmartin, although having never served on a city board or commission, was sworn in as Liscinsky’s replacement for the rest of her 2017 term on Tuesday morning.

Democratic Town Chair Dave Gioello said Kilmartin attended the board’s retreat back in August and impressed both of the other two Democratic board members, Faith Hack and Kate Kutash.

“They felt strongly that she would contribute a lot to what’s left of the session that we’re in. I was already convinced,” said Gioiello. “She’s got kids in the school system so she brings that perspective to the board. We’re looking forward to her getting right to work.”

“It is a bit intimidating coming in, but I have to say Arlene has been excellent at reaching out and very willing to give advice and so have the other members on the board on Democratic side. Mark was actually the one to attend some of the meetings. I felt very welcomed…”

The city’s Superintendent was equally excited for Kilmartin to have joined the board.

“I just am delighted to work with Mandy, I know her to be very bright and I think she will ultimately be a great addition to our board,” said Clouet.

“We know that we’re losing three very talented people, which is bad for us, but good for them,” said Holden. “On the other hand, Mandy’s getting involved quickly and looks to be a terrific addition. On my side of the aisle we have Ann Gaydos who’s also been very involved in the past, and we have Wayne and Jose that are running on the Democratic side.”

Wayne Bragg (D) would bring experience from his time serving on the Board of Apportionment and Taxation should he be elected. Jose Goncalves is also running for a spot on the board, has been a Shelton resident for 36 years, and a sanitation worker for the Bridgeport Board of Education.

Kilmartin said she views the opportunity to serve on the board before elections as an advantage.

“I think this is a good preview of things to come should November turn out the way that I hope that it does,” said Kilmartin. “My work in the schools and community already have allowed me to get to know our board and superintendent a bit and how things are done, operate, and I’m very excited to have a voice in some of the decision-making that goes on.”

The city’s newest alderman shared the same sentiment in terms of getting to serve before elections take place.

With equally large shoes to fill as Kilmartin, Adam Heller was named as the replacement to finish out this year’s term for long time Democratic lonewolf on the Board of Aldermen, Jack Finn.

With nearly two months until elections, Heller said this time could make all the difference in the results.

“Everyone on the board has been more than welcoming, I can’t say enough positive things about them,” said Heller who previously ran for State Rep. and served on the Board of Apportionment and Taxation.

“I’m definitely interested in observing the budgetary issues more closely and understanding our surpluses because I am very unclear on that,” said Heller. “Being on Apportionment and Taxation, there was always the question about surpluses and the proper mill rate and how we account for extra money. I’ve already had residents approach me to look into blight issues, such as sidewalks. Overall, I’m just excited to try and help everyone out.”

Finn lends a helping hand

Having the support from your predecessor can make all of the difference in the success you hold in a new position, according to Heller.

Thankfully for Heller, Finn said he has 100% of his support going into the November election.

“There’s no question about that,” said Finn. “I’m going to be walking with him door-to-door for sure.

“Adam is for the people. He asks very good, solid questions,” said Finn. “Come November, I hope everyone educates themselves and realizes that Adam will fight for you like I have for the 32 years that I served.”

Finn advised Heller to take into consideration what he hears from residents when he begins his door-to-door campaign.

“That’s where you will learn about the larger issues,” said Finn.

Heller said he hopes having Finn’s stamp of approval will gain him votes.

“Jack has been immensely helpful, and his name will help me a lot when campaigning,” said Heller. “Being an incumbent now gives me some exposure to some of the issues going on and gives me some stuff to talk about while i’m knocking on doors.

“In the end I may be working with people from different parties and we may have different opinions on how to handle things, but we all have the same goal of making life better for the people in Shelton.”