Editorial: The Sentinel Endorses
Election Day is this coming Tuesday. It’s important. We’re choosing the leaders of our town for the next two years. We’ll be voting on our Boards of Selectmen, Estimate & Taxation, Education, Assessment Appeals, RTM, tax collector, town clerk and constables. Yes, we still have constables, and they play an incredibly important role in our judiciary.
We want to thank every person who has stepped forward to run for office. Serving our town is a commitment and can be challenging. It is time away from family. It is delving into complicated issues and listening carefully to constituents, and helping move the debate forward in a timely manner while also reaching consensus.
And most people are unaware that Greenwich is a volunteer-run community. With a few exceptions, elective offices are unpaid, including the Board of Education.
Board of Selectman: The current Board of Selectmen is doing very good work and we believe they should be returned to office. It’s a difficult task to lead an incredibly diverse town such as ours, filled with leaders of industry, economic experts, people laboring to make ends meet, and everyone in between. Peter Tesei has done an admirable job in representing the entire town, not just one constituency. His leadership style is unique in that he looks to build consensus. He faces difficult issues head-on, but always brings others to the table with an eye toward community and getting things done rather than leading a charge. We think it works.
Frank Farricker and James Reilly are also running for first selectmen. Both have waged campaigns free of allegations, partisan rhetoric or rancor. Frank Farricker’s call to proactively address our infrastructure is one with which we agree, but one the current board has also made a priority. And we like James Reilly’s outside-the-box thinking and revenue ideas. Both candidates help illuminate important issues and offer a healthy debate.
Drew Marzullo is the lone Democrat currently serving on the Board of Selectmen, having served aptly in that role since 2009. He has a voice and is not shy about using it. We like that about him. Drew readily admits that the powers of a selectmen are limited, and so he uses the soapbox to make sure that a different perspective is heard when warranted. He has done so in opposition to the Republicans as well as the Democrats. It is a voice that is civil, independent, and needed.
John Toner, appointed to fill the unfinished term of Dave Theis when he so unexpectedly passed away last year, has done an admirable job. Not an easy role to step into, but John brings to the board a quiet maturity and experience that comes from someone who had a successful career in the private sector. He exemplifies the concept of citizen government—of individuals who want give back to our community through service, and believe passionately in seeking out other citizens to volunteer their time on our various boards and commissions. We are fortunate to have him serving.
We’re endorsing Peter, John, and Drew, but voters may choose only one candidate for first selectman and one for selectman.
Board of Education: This endorsement was a bit trickier for us to make, since there was some disagreement here at the Sentinel. This is perhaps indicative of the candidates’ worthiness. Each party is running three candidates for two seats. There is a lot going on with the Board of Ed, as there always is.
Lauren Rabin, the challenger, is a breath a fresh air. She has an infectious energy and excitement about serving on the board, and her passion for children and education is clear. Her experience as a parent of children who have come through the public schools, her decades on PTA executive boards, and her time in the RTM and on Board of Social Services make her our choice. We all are eager to see her serve.
We like Barbara O’Neill’s leadership. As chairman, she has a thoughtful manner when approaching complex issues. She recognizes that our high schoolers are over-programmed and over-stressed, and she wants to engage our entire community to ensure that students are prepared academically, but also with resiliency skills and life skills.
Peter Von Braun brings something different to the table entirely that is both interesting and challenging. He is not data-driven; he is driven to find the cause of an issue and address it at the root, something to be admired.
We are endorsing Lauren and Barbara, but with the reservation that the Board of Education could use someone with a different point of view like Peter.
Jennifer Dayton is the vice chairman, and she impresses us with her in-depth knowledge of all facets of the board’s responsibilities and of the individual schools. She is extremely well-informed and data-driven, and she believes that consistency is vital in educational leadership.
Gaetame Francis is our other choice on the Democratic side. As a doctor, she can bring a unique perspective to the board and the issues it will face moving forward. Her desire for clear, transparent communications and to develop a budget that continues to strengthen our schools while being mindful of the taxpayers is refreshing.
Anthony Lopez is a challenger with an impressive biography and a strong desire to serve our community. His experience at Central Middle School has served him well and the students at Greenwich High School were impressed with his performance at their forum.
We are endorsing Jennifer and Gaetame.
We encourage the Board of Education to take a less data-driven and a more student-focused approach, and to have open discussions with teachers, who have told us they rarely have the opportunity to really teach anymore because they are so busy assessing.