Southington finance board ballots include incumbents, possible unaffiliated candidate

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SOUTHINGTON — Board of Finance slates are largely familiar names with all incumbents running for reelection in November.

A Democrat and former Board of Fire Commissioners member may also make a run as an unaffiliated candidate.

Republicans hold four of the board seats while Democrats hold two.

Incumbents John Leary, the chairman, Joe Labieniec, vice chairman, Tony Morrison and Ed Pocock Jr. are on the Republican slate for reelection.

Incumbents Kevin Beaudoin and Sue Zoni are joined by newcomer Shaun Slight on the Democratic ticket.

Chris Robertson, a Democrat, is looking to gather enough signatures to get on November’s ballot as an unafiliated candidate. He served on the fire board.

Robertson said he needs to get 60 signatures by Aug. 4 to secure a place in the elections. He declined to comment on his run for finance board until he’s gathered the signatures he needs.

Electing a team

Leary has been chairman of the finance board since 2011 and has served alongside Labieniec and Pocock for that time. He said he and other board members have worked to stabilize tax rates, properly fund town services and build Southington’s reserve funds.

“We are now well above our policy targets for our rainy day fund,” Leary said. 

Much of the work is bipartisan, he said. Beaudoin, a Democrat, and a former Republican finance board member, James Coleman, led an effort to invest the town’s reserves and create revenue from idle cash.

Southington has also maintained a consistent, good bond rating allowing it to borrow money cheaply for town projects.

“We’re in very very good financial shape,” Leary said.

Republican members work well with Democrats on the board, Leary said, and have shown they can properly manage the finances of the town.

“It’s good to have a team of people who have been there before the pandemic, through it. Hopefully that team is reelected to see it through,” Leary said.

Teaching, banking experience

Finance board members most often disagree on education funding. In the most recent budget recommended by the board, Zoni voted no over reductions to the requested school district increase.

Zoni, a former teacher, said she’s seen both waste and unmet needs in the school district. It’s the board’s job to question spending but also to provide resources when needed.

“Having been in the schools, having worked with kids over the summer that were my former students, they lost a lot by not being able to be in school regularly,” she said. “I felt that the budget had to include everything that was possibly necessary to take care of every one of the students that was in need.”

In previous years, Zoni said she’s voted for less town or education spending depending on the circumstances.

“That’s what we need to do, we need to be cautious of all of the money all of the time,” she said.

Zoni said she wants the board to focus on local issues and doesn’t want state decisions to take up time at meetings.

“Don’t bring it into our meetings, that becomes political,” she said. “I believe in governing and governing for the best.”

The Democratic newcomer, Slight, is a mortgage originator with Ion Bank. 

Beaudoin is a financial advisor.

jbuchanan@record-journal.com203-317-2230Twitter: @JBuchananRJ

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