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IPN Hosts Coffee With the Candidates

The Independent Party of Newtown holds its first public event of the 2011 election season Saturday at Demitasse.

Independent Party of Newtown Selectman Bill Furrier readily admits that the oddsmakers have incumbent Pat Llodra the favorite to win this year's first selectman race.

"My winning is a longshot," Furrier said of his candidacy for first selectman.

But his reason for running, Furrier said during an interview at IPN's first public event of the election season on Saturday, was to take a stand on issues and see whether the community agreed with him.

"By running, I could elevate the issues," he said. "Somebody has to step up and raise the issues. Members of the IPN asked me to run and deep down, I knew I wanted to."

With the postponement of the Labor Day parade throwing a wrench into the start of the election season, political parties have had to come up with their own separate events to introduce their candidates to the public.

The and held their own separate kickoff events a few weeks ago while the Independent Party of Newtown hosted its first one Sat., Oct. 1 at Demitasse Cafe.

Furrier is campaigning on a pledge to cut the town budget by 5-percent. He said he believes there is support for such a cut in the community. He maintains the town can do a better job of "tracking and scoring" projects to determine the true cost of services and use that information to determine whether they are necessary.

He said he has specifically targeted the town budget, because that falls under the purview of the first selectman's office, as opposed to the school budget, which falls to the Board of Education and with which he said he has little control over.

"I would still support that we spend less," Furrier said.

At the same time, he said he believes residents value tax dollars going to education.

"There's strong support for education," Furrier said, adding that barring keeping roads in good shape and plowed during snowdays and support for sports activities, "I don't see any evidence of support for town spending. There's no evidence of it being of a higher priority."

In his first term as selectman, Furrier has generally supported budget proposals Llodra has put forward. He did not speak up during those deliberations and propose cuts because he said he did not want to be seen as "obstructing" Llodra and Republican Selectman Will Rodgers in their fiscal management of the town.

"It was their budget," Furrier said. "That was my way of being collaborative."

Other candidates at Saturday's event, included Carol Bosko Walsh, who is running for Board of Finance. She said she was supportive of Furrier's call for a 5-percent cut. Walsh, who moved to town from New Jersey about six years ago, works at Unilever – also Furrier's employer – where she said she manages a unit with a $7 million budget and has had to deal with making cuts.

"I feel like I'm an extremely honest person," she said. "I work hard and I'm reliable...I'm not going to take stances if it's not in the best interest of the town."

Her husband is James Walsh, a former Verizon field technician who is running for the Police Commission, a group he is familiar with particularly in his advocacy of traffic calming measures in the area around Key Rock Road. Prior to being a candidate, James Walsh successfully lobbied the commission to agree to install speed tables on Key Rock Road. Walsh said from that experience, he decided to run for a seat on the commission.

Also running on the IPN ticket is Randy Young, a Legislative Council candidate for the second district. He moved to Newtown from Texas nearly four years ago and works selling 9-1-1 public safety equipment to municipalities. He said he has checked with his company on whether there would be a conflict of interest with his running for public office in Newtown but because sales of the equipment in Connecticut is made strictly at the state level, Young said he was told a conflict does not exist.

Young, who listed Fairfield Hills and tax money being spent on the campus as one of the issues he was concerned with, said having a new voice on the council would be beneficial to the town.

"Someone coming in new brings fresh perspective," he said.

Robert Duero is another IPN candidate for the council in the third district. Most recently, he served on the Charter Review Commission and held the distinction of being one of the only members to support splitting the annual budget referendum into two separate votes, one for education expenses and the other for town spending – also known as bifurcation.

"We want people's voices to be heard," Duero said. "We want the people to vote on what they want."

On the slate for the Board of Education is Laura Main, a registered Democrat who said she wanted to maintain her party affiliation in order to vote in the primaries for national office, though she said felt more aligned with the IPN on local issues.

"I have never felt connected with our local Democratic party," she said.

Main, who is working toward her doctorate and has many years of experience in education, including as a teacher, said she grew up in Ridgefield and moved to Newtown in 1996.

"In a lot of ways, Rdigefield went through 20 to 30 years ago what we are going through now," she said of Newtown.

Main said she believes better communication with parents and the public is among one of the areas the education board needs to improve.

"That whole dialogue needs to open up," she said. "I feel like now is the time for me to step up."

Other candidates on the IPN ticket include Po Murray for selectman; Kevin Fitzgerald, Bruce Walczak and Jasper Ress for Legislative Council; Neil Randle and Philip Cruz for Police Commission; and Rudy Magnan for Board of Finance.

Clarification: Bill Furrier said he believes there is support for town spending on sports activities. This article has been updated to reflect that.

Tom Bittman October 04, 2011 at 11:47 PM
While it can be really discouraging to listen to the nastiness that spews out from certain people over and over on Patch and in Facebook, it's nice to know that most Newtowners aren't like that. Why can't we have a civilized discussion of the issues and legitimate differences of opinion, like Mr. Gaston says he wants to have someday? Why can't that start now? Why so many personal attacks and rumor-mongering that have nothing to do with real issues? "Nicer in Newtown" should be more than a real estate slogan, and it should start with those who want to be leaders. Or is this simply too much to ask?
Gazer Teer October 05, 2011 at 12:22 AM
I think there are many people thinking the same thing Ms Jacob. Will Mr Furrier really give up his full time paid employment? I don't think that question is unreasonable and I also question why he is so silent? Ms Murray is very vocal - where is Mr Furrier???
skinnygirl October 05, 2011 at 02:27 AM
Tom, Come on...a little "Pot calling the kettle black" Nes pa'
Tom Bittman October 05, 2011 at 03:19 AM
Not at all, not one bit. Same stuff, different year. An elected official said things that were patently false, aimed to discredit another elected official. I had every right to call them out on it. I wish more candidates would spend time on what they would do, rather than spending time attacking others. N'est-ce pas?
yoda October 05, 2011 at 10:40 AM
No one is attacking anyone, we just want answers, I don't think that is being unrealistic?
yoda October 05, 2011 at 10:42 AM
Great question?
Caren Wellman October 05, 2011 at 12:09 PM
Nicer in Newtown? Tom are you aware that your wife just sat along with a board that voted to eliminate the O/O, something that made it nicer in Newtown? You may think that your wife is absolved of all guilt, but the truth is that her non-vote and her silence allowed this to happen. For accountability and transparency, let's have a discussion about what Lillian has done to support the O/O. When Debbie made the motion to wait until we were clear about the liability how did Lillian vote? What steps did Lillian take that showed her support for the O/O? Did Lillian vote to give Janet a raise? I better stop here, wouldn't want an ethics complaint thrown my way. Sorry Tom, you are not the judge and jury. Yes pot, this is the kettle calling, your black.
Bruce Walczak TheNewtownRooster.com October 05, 2011 at 12:21 PM
The BOE is the most politically diverse board in town, representing all the political parties and taxpayer groups. There are 7 members and 6 have voted to make this monumental change. I do not think it was easy for them, this type of change never is.I love the O/O's and it was a system which served Newtown well over the years, but times do change. Each member of the Board of education thought hard about this decision and I believe they feel it is the right one,using all the FACTS. To demonize them is wrong.
Tom Bittman October 05, 2011 at 02:23 PM
Of course I'm not judge and jury. You are, Caren. You disagree with with my wife on issues, and declare her guilty. That is your opinion. Aim your sarcasm elsewhere - I'm about to attend my sister's funeral - something more important than listening to this.
skinnygirl October 05, 2011 at 03:17 PM
Didn't you bring that up in an ethics complaint? What was the verdict?
Sam Mihailoff October 05, 2011 at 03:29 PM
Tom, I extend my condolences certainly. However if the funeral is "something more important than listening to this", would it not also be more important than responding to this also??? It sounds like the funeral was mentioned for dramatic effect. The voterrs will be the judge and jury. For whatever reasons, the majority of those deemed to be in err are not running for re-election. Perhaps they saw the handwriting on the wall, and slinked away
Debbie October 06, 2011 at 07:36 PM
I am a registered Democrat but after reading the sarcastic and mean spirited comments of Jim Gaston in just about every post that he makes, I can assure you that I will be voting for anyone but a Democrat!
onceuponanewtown October 06, 2011 at 08:27 PM
Who isn't passionate about standing up for what is right and accountable? Just because a report (or statement) is given in a confident, smooth or confusing manner doesn't mean it is true or cannot not be simplified through fact finding to be understood. The public needs to ask more questions and follow through on the results/actual actions taken ~ not just take the district word, fancy speek or a lovely graph of statistics as proof...everytime this current school administration/BOE reports - contrary facts follow and I am just not ready to believe take their "words" at face value any longer...trust is gone. I will support the people who are willing to uncover the truth, fix the corruption and move our town forward in a productive, cost saving manner where the entire publics needs, concerns and well being are the #1 consideration and priority...not just the wish lists and benefit of a chosen few!
yoda October 06, 2011 at 11:08 PM
Who you vote for is your business, but go and met these people, look them in the eyes, watch their body languge as you ask them questions, then and only then will you know who the right person is for the job!
Bruce Walczak TheNewtownRooster.com October 07, 2011 at 11:54 AM
Yoda comment is spot on: meet the candidates, talk to them, listen and them make your minds up. Many of the Independent Party candidates will be at the IPN's second meet and great and tag sale on Saturday Oct 8th from 9:00am on at 12 Glover Avenue. Come on by and see if our candidates are the Right Choice and provide Real Leadership.
Al(bert) Roznicki October 12, 2011 at 11:42 PM
It is so sad to read all of these pejorative statements. Ms. Jacob’s pendantic coments appear to be aimed at diverting attention away from the real issues of Newtown. Ms. Andras , I believe was secretary to Herb Rosenthal, when he used a bumping tactic to gain a seat on the Board of Selectman and now wishes to see a charter revision. While I have no issue with people using tactics that are allowed by law or charter, I certainly do have issue with those who choose to selectively use them for political purposes without applying them to their own practices. These dogmatic statements do not serve the people of Newtown well. A perfect example of politics-in-motion was this past selection of a weighted Charter revision commission, designed to address the issue of bifurcation only. Another example is the attack toward Ms. Bittman. She has served the BOE and the people of Newtown well and therefore singling her out for supporting a decision that benefits all of Newtown is ridiculous. I believe that our ever-increasing taxes are an issue. Mr. Gaston’s challenge of Furrier and Murray for details regarding their campaign pledge to reduce expenditures by 5% is disingenuous, and intended for political purposes only. I would have been more impressed if he had said he was going to join them in researching ways to accomplish such a reduction, whether possible or not. Instead, we choose to create conflict, which appears to be the preferred approach to politics. Nicer in Newtown . . .?
Mary Ann Jacob October 12, 2011 at 11:50 PM
Attention to detail should be a good thing, and the question I asked with no disrespect is an important one, not pendantic. Voters, including myself have a right to know if Mr. Furrier plans to be a full-time selectman if elected. That question remains unanswered. Why is transparency only expected of those who you disagree with?
Emma October 13, 2011 at 12:07 AM
I would truly like to know where the 5% reduction is coming from. They chose a specific number, they must have some idea, otherwise how do we know they are making a promise they can keep or know if we will agree with the cuts? I have no reason to vote for them without seeing details. I don't agree with the Pelosi philosophy of voting to approve something so we can find out the details. It's common sense.
Al(bert) Roznicki October 13, 2011 at 12:09 AM
Ms. Jacob, with all due respect, politics in Newtown needs a serious make-over. Mr. Furrier knows very well that if he is elected he would have to give up his job or at a minimum take a leave of absence, so why is this such an issue? I would agree that details are important, but not when they are directed at issues that are irrelevant. Is there any question in your mind that if Mr. Furrier did not give up his full time job that actions by your Council would be taken up against him. So should we be wasting our time on insignificant issue such as this?
Newtownpatchreader October 13, 2011 at 12:56 AM
Al(bert), As you say" with all due respect", what is so odd about the question. Furrier is running for First Selectman. You wouldn't know it because you, Walzcak and Po are his mouthpieces. He is a ghost. An apparition that you thought you saw or heard say something. Your not quite sure if he's really there. He's running because he's on the ballot, but there hasn't even been a sighting. Can he speak for himself? The question is certainly legitimate and far from irrelevant.
Sam Mihailoff October 13, 2011 at 01:24 AM
Sam Mihailoff 3:54am on Sunday, October 9, 2011 Asking how the 5% reduction will take place and from what specific areas the 5% reduction shall be taken, seems reasonable questions. Nice to see you making comment Bill. I was beginning to think your candidacy was fiction. So, now that you have popped in for a visit, how about answering the question. You, Po, Bruce,. ANYBODY ??????? YOU-HOO........ I'M STILL WAITING...perhaps I should get out my refracting telescope and look to the heavens for any airborne swine Sky is empty...just like all the IPN bluster
Mary Ann Jacob October 13, 2011 at 01:36 AM
I'm not trying to be disagreeable, just asking a simple question, which has nothing to due with my position on the council, but as a taxpayer. My questions on this site are always my own and not that of the counciI. I don't understand why it can't get a simple answer. I will take your word for it that Mr Furrier plans to take a leave of absence from his job for the two years he is First Selectman if he is elected, but I'm disappointed he can't respond to this question himself while setting the record straight on other issues that have come up.
Mike Kelley October 13, 2011 at 02:36 AM
Very good questions and should be very simple answers. How are your candidates, (the IPN), going to reduce Town spending by 5%? In my business; if I plan to increase spending or decrease spending to attain a specific result and make a statement like this, I need to back it up with a specific plan. We have had people who have had to leave voluntary positions in Town due to new State regulations as their Companies did business with the State. I have no idea if Mr. Furrier's company is doing business with the State, in fact I do not even know who he works for, all he has to do is answer the questions being asked about his intentions; if elected. Transarency has been a byline/platform/sound bite for IPN for quite some time now. How about some concrete information and specifics so that the voters can make an informed decision?
Bruce Walczak TheNewtownRooster.com October 13, 2011 at 12:02 PM
Blog after blog has been written questioning whether Bill will be a full time First Selectman. Given how much they are concerned reinforces my believe that Bill will in fact be our next First Selectman, so right out of the most recent IPN Q&A is his answer IPN: Bill, some Democratic and Republican candidates have been commenting on the Newtown Patch insinuating that you won't be a full-time First Selectman if elected. Bill: My full-time and only job will be serving the people of Newtown when elected as First Selectman. By the way our current First Selectman has a part time job with her husband's company.
Herb Rosenthal October 14, 2011 at 05:45 AM
Al, amazing detective work, you caught me, I only ran for re-election as First Selectman so that I could use a "bumping tactic" to gain a seat on the Board of Selectman instead. Get real, you are confusing me with your current IPN First Selectman First Selectman candidate. The "bumping tactic" is called the election law. The people with the three highest vote totals are elected to the Board of Selectmen. Of the six candidates running for 1st Selectman and Selectman, I came in third, 81 votes behind Joe Borst and was therefore elected. The next highest vote getter was 300 votes behind me. The only way for me not to serve after being elected would have been to resign. Then, the remaining two elected Selectmen who were Republican/IPN endorsed candidates could have chosen any Democrat they wanted to replace me. It would not have automatically gone to the next highest vote getter. There was no "bumping" involved.
Al(bert) Roznicki October 14, 2011 at 10:52 PM
Herb: Thanks for the clarification. BUT, and I have said it before, our local politics and our Charter needs revision. If what you say is true, then we need only have candidates run for the position of Selectman with the highest vote getter being elected First Selectman. Instead we run candidates for First Selectman and Selectman. Why is that? It seems to me that you have taken advantage of a loop hole in our charter and I am not opposed to your having taken that advantage. However, the IPN is being accused of some form of subterfuge, which is not fair. Even if it were true, and it is not, every party has taken advantage of election loop holes. Need I remind you of "cross endorsing?" I clearly understand why you needed to respond to my comments, but my comment were not directed at you, but rather the process. Do you think for one minute that when the next charter revision group is commissioned that we will have a balanced representation on the commission? My interests are to improve our process, eliminate all of this unnecessary partisan politics, as you well know, and form a cohesive group of citizens that can debate the real issues.
Herb Rosenthal October 15, 2011 at 05:52 AM
Al, I was elected because of Connecticut election laws that apply to all towns with and without Charters who have 3 member Boards of Selectmen. This is not a "loop hole" or a "bumping practice" . You like other IPN members never admit it when you are wrong. "Bumping" appears to be what your First Selectman candidate wants to do to your Selectman candidate by running in a two person race instead of a three person race to make it easier to stay on the Board as a Selectman.
Bruce Walczak TheNewtownRooster.com October 15, 2011 at 01:06 PM
Herb I agree with you that the Charter and State law creates the fact that those with the three highest votes win, and its not a bad idea at all. It does encourage candidates to run for the top office by acknowledging that they would also be a great selectman. In the case of Mr. Furrier it is the democrats who failed to run a candidate intentionally giving the voters no choice if it were not for Mr.Furrier. . Thank you Bill for stepping up to the plate and also making it clear in the IPN Q&A that you would be a full time First Selectman. You have provided the voters with Choice and Leadership.
onceuponanewtown October 15, 2011 at 03:02 PM
When I read the IPN comments and replies it consistently appears that the members are more interested in calculating the game than responding to taxpayer questions or current interests and issues? And IPN answers also seem to be written with a spirit of defensive rather than offered in a straight forward manner - don't know what to make of it! It does remind me of the same attitude that the current BOE is presenting...no transparency or communication.
Al(bert) Roznicki October 16, 2011 at 10:56 PM
Herb: Were you wrong about building a new Municipal Center?

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