Borjeson to Lead DTC Slate
NEWINGTON - Former Democratic Majority Leader Terry Borjeson has secured the Democratic Town Committee’s nomination for Mayor, and running with him this coming November will be a mix of incumbents and newcomers for both the Town Council and Board of Education.

       The DTC announced and approved the nominees in a packed room at the Wood-n Tap Bar and Grill Monday night, rallying around a number of issues topped by differences they’ve had with the current Republican Majority on the level of school spending.

       “I want to thank the nominating committee for putting their faith in me,” Borjeson told the crowd of DTC members and candidates. “It’s a team effort, and we have a great team.”

       Returning for another run on the Council side are Minority Leader Carol Anest, Jim Marocchini, and Diana Casasanta Serra. They’re joined by Board of Education communications specialist Nicholas Arace, and former Town Hall Building Committee Chair Chris Miner.

       Josh Shulman, Emily Guion, Cindy Stamm and Sharon Braverman will be seeking another Board term, with town resident Michael Branda-a vocal advocate for Newington Public Schools initiatives-joining that side of the ticket.

       “We have to win up and down this ticket to protect our schools. Our seniors,” said DTC Chair John Kelly. “The rejuvenation of this town starts tonight.”

       Members of the Republican Majority have also brought up the town’s senior population, among others that may live on fixed incomes, but to make the case for their budget appropriations-a 0.3 percent increase for the Board this past cycle. A stagnant Grand List and an uncertain outlook on state aid adds to the need to keep spending tight, they have said.

       But the Board-funded short of its stated 2.49 percent baseline this year-will roll into the next cycle in deficit due to covering recurring salary costs with one time surpluses, Superintendent of Schools Bill Collins told Board members during budget meetings. There’s also the potential for magnet school tuition escalation, due to not opening the district’s $2 million high school STEM academy-left unstaffed after cuts the Board made to close the gap between the amount requested and what was appropriated-Democratic councilors have said.

       The Board issued a request for a special appropriation from its CIP to cover that, special education cost overages, and the rescinding of four teacher layoffs, to which Republicans counter proposed a Memorandum of Understanding asking for the use of projected health benefit credits before any transfer-in the amount of any existing shortfall-at the Charter permitted midyear point.

       The proposed MOU was rejected by the Board-already concerned about using one time and currently nonexistent funds to hire STEM teachers-after an attorney opinion advised them that it would not be legal for them to operate in deficit.

       “It’s time for Newington to decide which way we want this town to go,” Marocchini said in a statement before the group. “Do we want to decide that we’re going to invest in our education? Our infrastructure?”

       Branda, who co-authored a petition this spring in favor of the Board’s special appropriation request-to the tune of over 600 signatures-said that he never planned to run for the Board.

       “It was never my intention, but I could have sat on the sidelines, or jumped into the deep end,” he said. “We have two daughters [in the school system] and I want to protect education-I feel like that’s withering away.”

       Borjeson, who announced his intentions to seek the nomination months ago, has touched on everything from the education funding concerns, to the town’s business environment and economic development. He’s expressed a desire to see businesses get more leeway when it comes to temporary signage, while calling for Transit Oriented Development that “fits the character” of Newington.