MADISON – The town committees for the Republican and Democratic parties have selected their slates of nominees for the upcoming municipal election Tuesday, Nov. 7.
“The caucus went nice and smooth,” said Connor Favre, chair of the Republican Town Committee. “Our recommendations committee went through, proposed the names, and there was no contest at the caucus.”
Running Jen Gordon is running a Republican against Democrat incumbent Peggy Lyons for First Selectwoman, with Favre and Bruce Wilson rounding out the Republican nominees for the Board of Selectmen.
The Republican nominees running for the Board of Finance are John Rasimas, Matt Gordon, and Greg Scalzo III.
“(Rasimas) ran for state rep for us this past election cycle in 2022,” Favre said.
“We thought they were a really good fit,” Favre said of the finance nominees. “A mix of management and a lot of math background to them, which we thought would be important coming into this election cycle and year. There’s a lot of big issues that are numbers based in the town. We’re having a strong financial background and management background to our candidate teams, which is really important to us and we were able to get that together. We’re probably going to have mill rate debates as well with assessments. We’re having a strong financial background and management background to our candidate teams, which is really important to us.”
The Republican nominees for Zoning Board of Appeals are Dennis Crowe and Bill Piggott, and for Board of Education, Diane Infantine-Vyce and Galen Cawley.
Favre said that education is a big focus for local Republicans this year.
“It’s really important for us to have a really good education system,” he said. “I graduated from high school here nine years ago. When I graduated, we were rated a top 15 school, definitely top 20. Now we’re in the low 30s,” he said. “We want to analyze why we’ve slid a little bit there and get us back to the top 10, top 15 in the state. We want to be the best of the best. We’re a great education state and we want to maximize the amount of taxpayer dollars to make sure we’re getting the best education we can and pick back up in the ratings there.”
According to the latest US News ranking of high schools, which Favre sourced, Daniel Hand High School is currently ranked 34 out of 206 in the state and 1,654 nationally.
Asked how Republicans would improve on those rankings, Favre said they don’t have a plan for that yet.
“I think we’re in the first stage of that information gathering, talking with educators and the Board of Education to see where those improvements can be,” he said. “In the next few months or so, it should be more like an awareness to the community. We’re looking to solve this and provide reasonable solutions.”
He said Republicans also want to keep an eye on spending regarding the $89 million school improvement referendum that passed in 2022, which includes funding for a new elementary school.
“It’s pretty keen to us,” he said.
Keeping the $89 million within cost, Favre said, would be important, as well as making sure the town gets the most bang for its buck.
“With something like that where it’s such a large amount of bonding, it’s a big deal,” Favre said.
Joan Walker, chair for the Madison Democratic Town Committee, said spending on the $89 million school improvement plan is currently $17 million under budget, despite a motion to be voted on tonight to transfer $2.4 million from the town’s unassigned fund balance to pay for additional classrooms for the new elementary school.
“When everything comes in, you’re still going to be paying less,” she said.
The focus for the Democrats this election cycle, Walker said, is voter turnout.
“We need to keep them informed on what we’ve accomplished over the last four years,” she said, “make sure there’s no misinformation out there, which is really tough.”
She said the Democrats don’t intend to push the issues.
“What we like to do is listen to all of the town,” she said. “We don’t go into it saying this is what you have to do in order to move the town forward. We say, let’s see what people think. How should we approach things? It’s always been the way we’ve worked. I used to be on the Board of Selectmen. When there was something coming to a vote that was significant, we’d talk to as many people as possible and hold town hearings.”
Walker lauded First Selectwoman Peggy Lyons’ work during her tenure.
“One of the things that Peggy has looked at that has been significant to the tax rate is she’s gone after millions and millions of dollars in grants and fundings for big and large projects,” she said. “This isn’t ARPA funds, this is new. This is something the town didn’t do a lot of and there’s no reason not to.”
Running with Lyons is Al Goldberg and Scott Murphy for the Board of Selectmen; John Picard and John Donohue for Board of Finance; Seth Klaskin and Cathy Miller for the Board of Education; and Steve Bischoff and Bob Augusta for Zoning Board of Appeals.
“You’ve got to make sure you get as many people as possible to get out to vote,” Walker said. “I have an uncle who gave his life in World War II who gave his life for these freedoms. I’ve taken voting seriously my whole life. In a democracy you need to get people out.”