The mayoral race between incumbent Republican Mark Kaczynski and challenger Sam Lomaglio, a Republican endorsed by the local Democrats, has reached the homestretch.
On Tuesday, Nov. 2, Berlin voters will decide whether to stick with Kaczynski, who has served six years as mayor; or to hand the top job to Lomaglio, chairman of the Board of Finance.
In the waning days of the campaign, Kaczynski and Lomaglio stated their case during separate interviews with The Citizen.The incumbent
Mark Kaczynski lists reducing town debt as a notable achievement during his time as mayor. He said the debt has been cut from $115 million to $81 million, which helped boost Berlin’s bond rating to AAA status.
“We became more fiscally responsible,” said Kaczynski. “The debt will continue to decrease further.”
Kaczynski also is proud of the improvements made in the area of public safety. During his time as mayor, he said the town has purchased 19 new police cruisers and a new radio system for the dispatch center. The police department has new jail cells and renovated locker rooms, as well.
Under his watch, Kaczynski said Berlin’s firefighters have been taken care of, too. The town approved the purchase of three fire trucks, and the mayor said more are needed. Additionally, in recent years, the fire department has received new respirators and other equipment.
“As a mayor, and as a Berlin resident, I can say that public safety is one of the most important [issues] for any town,” said Kaczynski, who worked for 30 years as a special agent/attorney with the United States Department of Justice, Drug Enforcement Administration. “We put a lot of time and effort — and will continue to do so — to make sure Berlin stays as safe as possible.”
Looking down the road, Kaczynski said he and the mayors of several nearby towns plan to send a petition to Gov. Ned Lamont and to the state legislature seeking to bring attention to the rise in car break-ins and thefts in the state.
“They really have not been very responsive to this problem so we are trying to get the message to them,” said Kaczynski. “Every town is facing the same problem right now.”
Looking back on his three terms as mayor, Kaczynski said local bridges and roads have been tended to and businesses have flocked to town. He said 25 ribbon-cutting and groundbreaking ceremonies took place in the community from May 2020 to April 2021.
Also, Kaczynski pointed out that the Berlin High School softball team now has a new field at Sage Park, and that the senior center/community center project is moving along.
The mayor said all these achievements are a team effort.
“It’s not just me, it’s the entire council, it’s the volunteers, the Town Hall staff, the boards and commissions,” Kaczynski stated. “It’s really a collaborative work.”The challenger
Sam Lomaglio's public service in Berlin dates back to the 1990s, when he first served on the Board of Finance. Lomaglio said he stepped away from that role in order to devote more time to his young family. Years later, however, he was drawn back into local politics.
For the past four years, Lomaglio has served as Board of Finance chairman. Now he's looking to become Mayor.
"I feel it is the right decision and the next step for me to help bring change to the community," Lomaglio said.
"I am most familiar with how town government works. My experience as a business owner has given me the ability to communicate and compromise with all kinds of people to successfully get the job done with all parties involved coming to a consensus."
Lomaglio agrees with Mayor Mark Kaczynski that the business climate in town is good, local schools are top-notch, and that first responders are well taken care of. But Lomaglio believes this is largely due to the work of the Board of Finance.
"The small businesses in the Town of Berlin are increasing after COVID because of the tax freezes that the Board of Finance implemented. Our educational system is excelling because of the funding provided by the BOF which enabled them to provide needed programs. Our public safety personnel now have the much-needed cruisers and fire trucks provided by the BOF," he said.
While there is much for residents to be proud of, Lomaglio sees room for improvement in Berlin.
"Just drive down Farmington Avenue or the Berlin Turnpike. It hasn’t changed for 30 years," he said, adding, "There hasn’t been large economic growth that will provide true tax relief for our residents. The town’s roads are in need of repair."
If elected, Lomaglio said his priorities will include keeping the town a safe place to live, attracting new businesses, funding education, and getting the proposed Senior/Community Center built with the help of state and federal grants.
"In order to achieve all of these goals, Berlin needs a mayor who is willing to bring the community together," Lomaglio said. "Berlin needs a mayor who believes in the community and will not fight the battles of the past."