BERLIN — The local town committees have decided on their slates for November’s municipal elections.
Councilor Karen Pagliaro was named the Democratic-endorsed candidate for mayor and, barring any unforeseen primaries, will be facing off against Republican-endorsed incumbent Mark Kaczynski.
Pagliaro, who is serving her first term, said she sees a lack of transparency and accountability on the council and would like to see more cooperation between the parties. She also feels infrastructure funding has been shortchanged in recent budgets.
The primary issue that she wants to work on, however, is school funding. She joined her two Democratic colleagues on the council in voting against reductions to the Board of Education budget by Republican councilors.
Kaczynski said he has presided over a council which promoted economic development and focused on reducing the town’s debt. He said the town has attracted new businesses, including the Acura dealership on the Berlin Turnpike and Forrest Machine and Steel Wrist on Christian Lane.
He rebutted accusations that Republican councilors haven’t prioritized infrastructure, pointing out that the police and fire department radio systems were upgraded and the turf at Scalise Field is currently being replaced.
The Republicans added Donna Veach to their ticket to replace Councilor Alex Giannone, who decided not to run again because he is unsure if he will still be living in town in two years, according to Republican Town Committee Chairperson Anne Reilly. Councilor Charles Paonessa and Deputy Mayor Brenden Luddy will be seeking re-election.
Veach said she hopes to bring the experiences she’s gained as a member of local community organizations to the council. She currently serves as the marketing and special events planner at the New Britain Youth Museum at Hungerford Park and is a member of the Berlin Children’s Fund committee.
To fill the council seat being vacated by Pagliaro, Democrats endorsed Michael Urrunaga, a newcomer to Berlin politics who became involved through his concerns about the school budget. Councilors Peter Rosso and JoAnn Angelico-Stetson will be running on the Democratic ticket once again.
Urunaga currently works as a producer at ESPN, has coached baseball and soccer and is a member of the Willard PTO. He feels there is a lack of communication between the Board of Education, Board of Finance, Town Council and district staff.
“I think there were probably better ways to handle the machinations around the budget,” he said.
Republicans Steven Wilson and David Rogan will be running for seats on the Police Commission once again, while Democrats have endorsed incumbent Ryan Zelek and added John O’Brien to heir slate.
Board of Finance member Kevin Guite, a Republican, will not be seeking re-election and Tim Grady, a member of the Economic Development Commission, has been endorsed for his seat. Incumbents John Richards and Mark Holmes, who is an independent, have been endorsed by the Democrats.