WRA Annual Meeting and Meet the Candidates Forum

Annual Meeting – Monday, October 28 at 6:30pm
Keigwin Middle School Auditorium
99 Spruce Street, Middletown CT

Meet the Candidates Forum – 7:30pm
Keigwin Middle School Auditorium
99 Spruce Street, Middletown CT

46 candidates for municipal office have been invited, and all members of the public are welcome to attend.

The candidates are as follows:

Mayor – 2 candidates

Common Council – 16 candidates

Treasurer – 2 candidates

Board of Education – 10 candidates

Board of Assessment Appeals – 4 candidates

Planning and Zoning Commission (including alternates) – 12 candidates

This is not a debate, but rather an opportunity for candidates to introduce themselves and to explain why voters should consider their candidacy. If a candidate does not attend, his or her time will be give back to the block of candidates, or to another block as appropriate.

Westfield Residents – your input is needed!

There are two upcoming opportunities for Westfield Residents to give input on proposed City projects:

URGENTLY: There will be a hearing tomorrow, February 13, at the Public Works & Facilities Commission meeting (6:30pm at the Middletown Police Department Community Room) on the Newfield Corridor Trail. For more information on the history of this proposal, see here. A strong public showing at this meeting will help make this project a city priority.

On March 13th, the Public Works & Facilities Commission is scheduled to consider a draft of a Bring Your Own Bag ordinance. The following night, March 14, the same ordinance is on the General Counsel Commission agenda. In both meetings, there is opportunity for public comment on this proposal. If both meetings go well, the ordinance will be on the April 1 Common Council agenda for consideration. For additional information as well as links to how to contact Middletown Common Council members, see here.

Newfield Corridor Trail

The Jonah Center for Earth and Art is encouraging all Westfield Residents to support the connection of the Mattabesset Bike Path in Westlake (at Tuttle Road) to Veterans Park. There will be a presentation on this proposed project on Wednesday, February 13th at 6:30pm in either the Community Room at the Middletown Police Station or in Room 208 at City Hall.

More information on the project is available here.

Meeting Alert: Inland Wetlands on 12/5 at 7pm

Wednesday night’s Inland Wetland and Watercourses Agency meeting has an agenda item that affects Westfield. Here are the details if you’re interested in attending the public hearing:

Proposed driveway for ingress and egress for future residential building within the 100 foot upland review area on Country Club Road (near Massa Tom Road). Applicant/agent Little Higby, LLC/Linda Pierce/Dowley & Associates 18-15 (Scheduled as Public Hearing for 12/5/18)

The meeting will be held in Council Chambers at City Hall on 12/5 starting at 7pm.

2018 Meet the Candidates Night – Monday, October 22 at 7pm

Please join us for the WRA’s Annual Meeting and Meet the Candidates Night on Monday, October 22 at 7pm. The Annual Meeting will begin at 7pm, followed by light refreshments, and the Meet the Candidates forum will begin at approximately 7:45pm. The evening is not a debate, but rather an opportunity for candidates to introduce themselves and then answer questions posed by the audience. All members of the public are invited to attend, but WRA members will be allowed to ask questions first. The following candidates have been invited, and RSVP status will be updated as it becomes available.

Governor and Lieutenant Governor

Ned Lamont and Susan Bysiewicz                  Democratic Party           TBD
Bob Stefanowski and Joe Markley                   Republican Party        Markley-NO
Rodney Hanscomb and Jeffrey Thibeault    Libertarian Party           TBD
Oz Griebel and Monte E. Frank                         Griebel-Frank for CT   TBD

United States Senator       (* indicates incumbent)

Christopher S. Murphy*                                     Democratic Party           TBD
Matthew Corey                                                       Republican Party            TBD
Richard Lion                                                            Libertarian Party            YES
Jeff Russell                                                               Green Party                       YES

Representative in Congress District 1        (* indicates incumbent)

John B. Larson*                                                     Democratic Party            TBD
Jennifer T. Nye                                                       Republican Party             TBD
Thomas McCormick                                            Green Party                        TBD

Representative in Congress District 3       (* indicates incumbent)

Rosa L. DeLauro*                                                Democratic Party              NO
Angel Cadena                                                        Republican Party               TBD

State Senator District 9

Matt Lesser                                                           Democratic Party               YES
Ed Charamut                                                        Republican Party                YES

State Senator District 13        (* indicates incumbent)

Len Suzio*                                                            Republican Party                YES
Mary Daugherty Abrams                                Democratic Party               YES

State Representative District 33       (* indicates incumbent)

Joseph E. Serra*                                                 Democratic Party              YES
Linda Szynkowicz                                             Republican Party               YES

State Representative District 100

Quentin W. Phipps                                           Democratic Party               YES
Anthony Gennaro                                             Republican Party               YES

Secretary of the State       (* indicates incumbent)

Denise W. Merrill*                                             Democratic Party             TBD
Susan Chapman                                                  Republican Party              TBD
Heather Lynn Sylvestre Gwynn                   Libertarian Party              TBD
S. Michael DeRosa                                              Green Party                         TBD


Shawn Wooden                                                  Democratic Party               TBD
Thad Gray                                                             Republican Party               TBD
Jesse Brohinsky                                                 Libertarian Party               TBD


Kevin Lembo                                                      Democratic Party               TBD
Kurt Miller                                                          Republican Party                TBD
Paul Passarelli                                                   Libertarian Party                TBD
Edward G. Heflin                                              Green Party                           TBD

Attorney General

William Tong                                                     Democratic Party               NO
Sue Hatfield                                                        Republican Party               NO
Peter D. Goselin                                                Green Party                          YES

Judge of Probate District 15          (* indicates incumbent)

Joseph D. Marino*                                            Democratic Party              YES

Registrar of Voters          (* indicates incumbent)

Elizabeth N. W. Santangelo*                         Democratic Party             NO
David Bauer*                                                        Republican Party             YES



Upcoming Events in Westfield

September and October are busy months in Westfield! Here’s a summary to keep you informed:

Westfield Community Celebration, September 22 (9am-9pm) and September 23 (11am – 6:30pm) at Third Congregational Church (94 Miner Street, Middletown). This free event has something for the whole family – a Fall Celebration, Arts and Crafts Festival, live music, and a pig roast. The event website is here.

Fire Prevention Week starts October 8th. The Westfield Fire Department will run an open house on Saturday, October 13th.

WRA Annual Meeting and Meet the Candidates Night – Monday, October 22 at 7pm at Third Congregational Church, 94 Miner Street, Middletown

Upcoming Westfield Events and Important Public Safety News

I did not want to wait for the upcoming newsletter to get this information out to you. We’ve had to change the date of the Annual Meeting, there are some events happening in Westfield, and then there is an issue of concern to pass along. Please pass along to your neighbors and friends as you see fit.

Important upcoming events:
1. The WRA Annual Meeting and Meet the Candidates Night will be Monday, October 30 at 7pm in Fellowship Hall at the Third Congregational Church on Miner Street. This is a change from the original date of October 23rd due to a scheduling conflict with Fellowship Hall. More information to come on this event shortly.
2. The Third Congregational Church is hosting a free Westfield Community Carnival the weekend of October 6, 7 & 8. More information is available here. (If the link doesn’t work at first, the website is westfieldcarnival.com or google search Westfield Community Carnival. I had to refresh my browser to get it to work, but it is approaching the time in the afternoon when my internet does not work…).
3. The Westfield Fire Department is hosting its annual Fire Prevention Open House on Saturday, October 14 from 10am – 2pm. This event isn’t just for small children who like to tour fire trucks! Stop in and say hello to the fantastic crew and see what important safety issues you should know as we head into the fall and winter seasons.
Important Public Safety Warning:
One of the WRA members living on Higby Rd. reported being approached a few weeks ago by a man claiming to represent a solar company. He showed a letter, supposedly from the State of CT, saying that residents would be fined for not having solar panels on their homes. The WRA member turned the individual away, but did not report it to the police at the time. Beware – this is a scam and any similar activity should be reported to the Middletown Police non-emergency number at 860-347-2541.
The same WRA member was also approached this week by a man wanting handyman work, but who didn’t leave any contact name or number.
Please be aware of strange vehicles or people in your neighborhoods and promptly report suspicious people or behaviors to the police. There have been a number of car break-ins in Berlin over the summer, and last week, a homeowner near Country Club Rd. and Bell Street interrupted a similar event at about 12:45am while letting the family pet out.
The WRA Executive Committee will be meeting in early October before the Annual Meeting, so if you have issues or concerns to pass along, please do so.
Thanks and see you all soon!

Dessert Night and CPR demonstration

IMG_0188    IMG_0190

Congratulations to Janet L. for winning the 3rd Annual Dessert Night competition. Her lovely lemon dessert was a huge hit. Thank you to Chief Balch and LT Coco for judging the desserts and for their Fire Safety/CPR demonstration. As always, we love and appreciate our Westfield Fire Department!

WRA Comments to Common Council on Monday, April 3, 2017

The following is the complete text of the comments given by WRA Chair Jennifer Mahr to the Common Council on Monday, April 3 regarding items 7A and 8B on the agenda:

Good evening. My name is Jennifer Mahr and I am the chair of the Westfield Residents Association. I’m here tonight, on behalf of the association, to ask you to vote against amending the Director of Planning, Conservation and Development’s job description as proposed by Mayor Drew.

The WRA was formed in 1981 to ensure the rational development of Middletown. Our longtime Chair, Arline Rich, and her contemporaries, dedicated their lives to preserving the process of good governance, believing that city government exists to protect and promote the interests of the people whose tax dollars pay for the process.

If you google the question, “why should a city hire a certified planner?” The American Planning Association’s website says this about the American Institute of Certified Planners’ (AICP) certification process: “Planners with an AICP certification have the academic qualifications, relevant work experience, and mastery of essential skills required to serve communities effectively. Hiring a certified planner demonstrates your commitment to the highest standard of ethical practice.”

So, first, for the Director of Planning, Conservation and Development to serve Middletown effectively, he or she needs academic qualifications, relevant work experience, and a mastery of essentials skills. Perhaps, if we were a sleepy bedroom community like Middlefield, we could accept the argument that a great manager could gain on the job experience, and be certified after the fact. So you know, the AICP certification process requires 4 years of job experience for a candidate without a degree certified by the Planning Accreditation Board before the candidate can even take the certification test.

But Middletown isn’t a sleepy bedroom town. It’s a complex, robust city that occupies, literally, a central role in our state. Middletown hosts a university, college, a hospital, multiple high schools, critical junctions of interstate highways, an envious position on the CT river, and a host of other rich, competing qualities that set this city apart from other cities. Why would we settle for someone without the academic qualifications, relevant work experience and mastery of essential skills? We’re about to rewrite our zoning code and redevelop our waterfront. We don’t have 4 years to give someone on the job experience before certification: Middletown needs someone now who can jump in and provide relevant leadership based on previous experience.

The second reason for hiring a certified planner took me by surprise: “Hiring a certified planner demonstrates your commitment to the highest standard of ethical practice.” The your in that sentence is you, the Common Council and the Mayor’s office. The words “ethical practice” are hyperlinked to a page that summaries the AICP Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct: “Certified planners…pledge to uphold high standards of practice, ethics, and professional conduct. As such, the AICP Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct helps members negotiate tough ethical and moral dilemmas they sometimes face.” It is notable that the certification process exists to ensure that city planners are properly trained to serve the public’s interest. It’s not a side benefit of certification, it’s the purpose for certification. To me, it means the job comes with a danger, and to protect the interests of the citizens of this town, you, the Common Council, would hire a certified planner to demonstrate your commitment to clean, efficient, and honest government.

The entire process that got us to tonight’s vote is the opposite of good government. Don’t just take my word for it – consider the multiple Middletown Press and Hartford Courant articles which have commented on the highly irregular process that was the job description revision and subsequent nomination of Mr. Samolis to the position. This job cannot be tied to the Democratic city machine or the Mayor’s future political aspirations. The Director has to work for us, the citizens, not you, the politicians with favors to collect and dispense.

For that reason alone – the appearance of a conflict of interest or a manipulation of the government process to benefit something other than the public interest, you the Council should not approve this new job description or appointee. If that’s not enough, the appointee does not have the education or experience for the job Middletown requires. Taken together, voting tonight to approve the changes to the Director’s job description and to approve the nomination of Mr. Samolis would constitute an utter failure on the part of the Common Council to govern responsibly and ethically. There is no other way to consider your actions.

At the very least, if you are determined to let the mayor have his way, you must also create and fund a second job for a certified city planner. These two jobs have to be approved together to demonstrate a commitment to transparency and propriety. In other words, you can’t approve the mayor’s proposals tonight and just promise to try to create a planning job later. If our budget cannot support hiring a separate city planner, you can’t vote tonight to change the job description to drop out this expertise. Stephen Devoto, the Chair of the Planning and Zoning Commission has already publicly stated that he and the other elected members of the Commission cannot do their jobs without support from a planning professional.

Please – put the citizens of Middletown first. Our long term stability and prosperity depends on the choices you make right now: don’t make a short-sighted choice based on political convenience to deprive our town of the professional experience we need at this critical moment. Thank you.

Important Common Council vote on Monday, April 3 at 7pm


On Monday, April 3 at 7pm, the Common Council will be voting to fill the vacant position of Director of Planning, Conservation and Development. The mayor has (1) proposed a change to the job description of this position, and (2) appointed his Administrative Assistant, Joe Samolis, to the post. The agenda for Monday night’s Common Council meeting can be found here.

The heart of the Executive Committee’s concern is this: the mayor proposes changing the job description of the Director of Planning, Conservation and Development to drop the requirement that the Director have a degree in planning. The Director would have to be certified as a Planner within 5 years of the appointment. The proposed job description is here .

Please note that a national search for a new Director was conducted this fall, with over a dozen qualified candidates (under the old job description) applying. Joe Samolis was involved in evaluating these candidates, including participating in the interviews. The mayor then decided to hire none of the applicants, to change the job description, and to hire Mr. Samolis as the new Director.

Stephen Devoto, a longtime WRA member and the current Chair of the Planning and Zoning Commission, is vehemently against this proposed change to the Director’s job description UNLESS the change also creates and funds a separate city planner position. In his opinion, and the WRA Executive Committee concurs, Middletown is too large a city to not have professional expertise in planned development. In fact, one could argue that there should have been two positions long ago: a director dedicated to administration and oversight, and a planner dedicated to long term city planning and day-to-day implementation of that plan. Middletown’s Zoning Code is in dire need of revision, and that process was started over a year ago, only to be halted during the search for a new Director. Hiring someone with no certification in planning to oversee this process is irresponsible and reckless.

Here are links to several news articles for background reading:





It is the opinion of the Executive Committee that Middletown needs a certified planner on staff. It may be possible that said planner isn’t the administrator Middletown requires to meets its planning, conservation and development needs, and that’s OK. But, to modify a job description to justify the hiring of someone with no planning education or experience is unwise and a poor allocation of tax dollars.

What can you do?

1. Attend Monday night’s Common Council Meeting and voice your opinion during the public comment session.

2. Call or email Common Council members before Monday’s meeting to share your opinion. A list of Council members can be found here. In particular, contact the Deputy Majority Leader Mary Bartolotta (Mary.Bartolotta@MiddletownCT.Gov) or Councilman Gerry Daley (Gerald.Daley@MiddletownCT.Gov).

3. Tell your neighbors and ask them to do #1 or #2.