Candidates talk to Mansfield voters about elections
Published: Wednesday, October 23, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, October 23, 2013 00:10
On Tuesday, Oct. 22nd, the League of Women Voters (LWV) of Northeastern Connecticut hosted a candidates night to give an opportunity for residents and voters alike to meet the people running for election.
With just two weeks left until Mansfield voters head to the polls, the LWV held an event in the Audrey P. Beck Municipal Building which began at 7:00 p.m. and lasted a little over two hours.
The candidates discussion was moderated by Sondra Astor Stave, a member of LWV, who started the event with rules and then the first round of candidates. Each round consisted of candidates running for a different board, commission or council.
Prior to the beginning of each round where members of the audience were allowed to ask the candidates questions, each candidate speaking during the round was provided time for a 30 second self-introduction.
The first round included two candidates–both Democrats, one of which being UConn education professor Casey Cobb–running for Region 19 Board of Education positions. Some of the concerns mentioned by residents included the graduation rate for students at E.O. Smith High School as well as residency requirements and special education.
The second group of candidates was for the Mansfield Board of Education where three candidates were present and included two Republicans and one Democrat. These questions regarded topics ranging from class sizes and the condition of buildings at Mansfield’s three elementary schools.
The next selection of candidates was for the Planning and Zoning Commission with eight people in attendance that are running and included alternates. Concerns discussed by members of the audience consisted of issues like downtown development and wetlands.
At this point during the night, Mark Sargent, president of UConn College Republicans and a 5th semester political science and economics major, asked a question regarding an increase in UConn enrollment to which one Republican candidate said “it seems to me like UConn does whatever they want.”
The last round was the longest with eleven candidates, including Betsy Paterson who is currently serving as Mansfield’s mayor, for the town council. Topics that arose included budget woes, management of the town, Storrs Center and taxes.
A question brought up from the audience about a nuisance policy regarding students having loud parties was answered with mixed feelings but most agreed that it was an issue either way.
Once the Candidates Night officially ended, a few people commented on how well they thought the discussion went.
Astor Stave, who moderated the entire event, said “I’m disappointed that more different people didn’t ask questions…[but] the audience was about what we had anticipated.”
Mark LaPlaca, an incumbent Democrat running for Mansfield Board of Education and chair of Mansfield’s Democratic Town Committee said, “the format was a little bit hard, somewhat limited, but...I think our candidates did very well [and] spoke to the issues.”
Tony Lent, who serves as chair of the Mansfield Republican Town Committee, said “I think we did very well. We answered the questions honestly and I think that we probably opened a few eyes about the student issue [regarding the nuisance and noise policy].”