Candidate profiles: Naugatuck Burgess Democrats

BurgessesThe Citizen’s News asked candidates running for office four questions. The following are their responses.

James Ayash 

Age: 37

Party: Democrat

Occupation:

Past political posts:

James Ayash

James Ayash

Why are you running for burgess?

“I’m running because I want to help Naugatuck, serve Naugatuck and because it’s my duty as a citizen. I want to investigate expenses using my auditing skills and ask the right questions to start others talking about issues. I am not a yes man and I’ll stay at the meeting all night if I have to and never quick vote because I want or need to go home.”

What can be done to increase economic development in Naugatuck?

“There are many things and options we have and we can’t rule anything out because nothing is impossible. I would say the most important thing we can do is start protecting our town by having standards. For example, Southbury, they don’t get all excited when they hear Burger King wants to open in town, they review and determine how it will effect other current businesses and if it will strengthen the town or not and make sure that store signs are made not the way the business wants, but in a way that will keep the integrity of the town. If we set standards and protect, we will have stronger retailers then just dollar stores. That’s how you strengthen a town and home values as well.”

Would you be in favor of privatizing any borough services? Why or why not?

“Generally speaking, I am against privatizing because I’ve seen many companies come into towns with teaser rates and later increase the price two and threefold. Example, the cable companies that get you to sign up and raise your rates six months later or the banks that almost sunk the country in 2007 doing the same trick. Also, when you privatize you end up having inexperienced people doing jobs. Service not only goes down, but it takes double the working hours to get the same job done. With that said, I am open to the possibility of certain things privatized if the numbers are crunched properly with different variables and they still make sense. I don’t believe government should run everything.”

What will be your goals and priorities if elected?

“I want to be a good representative of the town by committing time to find out about the expenses before I vote. I will always listen to the citizens’ concerns and wants. I want to strengthen the town by setting standards so future generations will want to stay in town. I want to make people aware that it’s not about building all the time, sometimes open space not only makes a town more beautiful, but I’ve seen studies where it costs more to serve a new development than the taxes generated. We have to take those things into account. Finally, I will be honored to have your vote on Nov. 5. Thank you.”

 

Robert Burns

Robert Burns

Robert Burns

Age: 88

Party: Democrat

Occupation: Retired from Uniroyal Chemical

Past political posts: President of the Young Democrats (four years); member of the Naugatuck Welfare Board (21 years); Board of Mayor and Burgesses (since 1974)

Why are you running for burgess?

“I am running for burgess so as I can serve the people of Naugatuck with good, clean, honest government and be a part of the American dream. This is my country and my government and I shall do my best to serve it well. I am a veteran of World War II and also a Korean veteran. I’ve served my country well and am proud of it. I was a U.S. Navy veteran.”

What can be done to increase economic development in Naugatuck?

“This can be better answered if the economy in the country is picked up. We have a committee in place now in Naugatuck working with Mayor Mezzo to try and help solve this problem.”

Would you be in favor of privatizing any borough services? Why or why not?

“I’m not in favor of it at this time. The Visiting Nurses Association at this time should be left in place. As a member of the advisory committee, I feel it is being managed very well and we should not privatize the situation. I do not think we should privatize the street and parks department. They see, to be running properly.”

What will be your goals and priorities if elected?

“I would like to see the town garage moved to another location off Rubber Avenue. Repair or replace the Hillside Avenue road surface around Hillside School. This is a very dangerous situation and it should be on the list of replacement. Thirdly, see if there is any way we can give the elderly some kind of tax break. I think we have to try to help the elderly in some kind of way.”

Mike Kuczenski

Mike Kuczenski

Henry C. Kuczenski Sr.

Editor’s note: Kuczenski didn’t respond to the questionnaire sent to candidates. The following is biographical information submitted to the Waterbury Republican American.
Party: Democrat

Education: High school equivalency certificate
Occupation: Security officer at City Hill Middle School, Naugatuck; retired former Naugatuck police officer
Past political posts: Burgess (two years); 10-year member of the Democratic Town Committee

 

Patrick Scully Sr.

Patrick Scully Sr.

Patrick Scully Sr.

Age:

Party: Democrat

Occupation: Cadi Company (Customer Service/Sales) (1996-present); Manager Bristol Babcock Inc. (28 years, retired)

Past political posts: Burgess (2001-2003, 2007-present); Planning Commission, Deputy Chairman (1999-2001); Street Department, Deputy Chairman (1985-1986)

Why are you running for burgess?

“As a resident and a member of the Board of Mayor and Burgesses, my dedication to the citizens of Naugatuck comes first. Over the past 20 years I’ve worked to improve and streamline services for our town. I have and will continue to hold the line on wasted spending, while continuing to improve our municipal and educational services. The borough needs leaders with bold ideas, as a previous member of the planning commission, I have that experience. While others have been absent, I’ve been there looking out for the taxpayers’ interests. I owe my allegiance only to the taxpayers of Naugatuck.”

What can be done to increase economic development in Naugatuck?

“We need leadership to run Naugatuck with the knowledge of financial responsibility.

My vision for the town of Naugatuck is to hold the tax structure within compliance of the cost of living. As a community leader with an understanding of Smart Economic Growth, we need to attract businesses of the future. We must look to the state government to allocate grant monies to help attract technical businesses, insurance, financial headquarters and catalog sales industries to our borough. We have several growing industries presently in our Industrial Park. We need to find ways for them to expand within our community. I value the needs of the people. We must work with our representatives, senators and congresswoman, to receive state and federal monies, for unfunded mandates. We must be competitive and take a more direct approach to protect our business climate. Naugatuck requires a person who understands the difference between an elected politician and a proven leader.”

Would you be in favor of privatizing any borough services? Why or why not?

“Simple, don’t do anything until you know the costs. Not just the monetary expense, but how it would affect the citizens. The Visiting Nurses Association is an important part of the sick and elderly life. People depend on help that the nurses and therapist give them on the daily or weekly basis. Studies have been done during previous administrations about privatizing Public Works and it was found to be more expensive. Let’s think before we make decisions or commitments. There are several departments that are duplicating services. We should look into possibly combining some of these.”

What will be your goals and priorities if elected?

“Our local infrastructure needs improvement. It requires leadership that will actively work to find and implement solutions to save our roads, bridges and buildings. Our roads need massive refinishing and some need complete rebuilding. This is not a small project and it will be very costly. We are presently allocating approximately $300,000 yearly for road repair. Spending that kind of money, each road would be repaired every 60 years. This is something that we shouldn’t tolerate. We must look for state and federal grants to help repair or rebuild our infrastructure. One of the first place projects I would like to see the state do is the replacement of the railroad bridge on Maple Street. This should be widened to help improve the site line on Water Street. This is presently one of the most dangerous intersections in the borough. This is especially dangerous for the patrons of the Post Office and the railroad passengers. Finally, It is extremely important to continue the leadership team that has worked to move this town towards recovery.  The journey to recovery has just begun; it’s a long journey and cannot be accomplished overnight. Our administration has helped our community to prepare to address the challenges we must now face.”

Laurie Jackson

Laurie Jackson

Laurie Taf Jackson

Age: 48

Party: Democrat

Occupation: Paraprofessional

Past political posts: Burgess (2011-2013); Justice of Peace (Present); Vice Chairman Democratic Town Committee (Present); Liaison to: Naugatuck Housing Authority, Naugatuck Police Department; Naugatuck Park Department, Naugatuck Youth and Family Services, Naugatuck Education Foundation

Why are you running for burgess?

“I will be completing my first term as burgess and would like to continue serving the borough. I was raised in a family, which believes in giving back to the community. There is still so much more that I want to do for this great town. If I’m re-elected I will continue to improve the quality of life for all the residents and make Naugatuck a better place to live and raise a family.”

What can be done to increase economic development in Naugatuck?

“With the unfortunate downfall of Renaissance Place, we all have to bring forth new business into Naugatuck. We must lure more types of business to the downtown areas and to the Industrial Park. We recently acquired the General DataComm Building which can be a start for future economic development. We hired a new CEO, Ron Pugliese, for the Naugatuck Economic Development Corporation and I’m looking forward to working with him to focus on bringing more jobs to the area and increase our grand list so we can lower our tax rate.”

Would you be in favor of privatizing any borough services? Why or why not?

“After reading the Blum Shapiro report on privatization, I would like to hear what the citizens have to say during a public hearing on the subject. The study indicated it would save money in the long run for the taxpayers. Unfortunately, I wouldn’t want anyone to lose his or her job in this harsh economic time. The VNA has helped so many people in this town and has always been there when you needed them the most. The street and park departments provide a great service as well as youth services. This is something that needs to be addressed more clearly and thoroughly and what the impact it will have on our great town of Naugatuck.”

What will be your goals and priorities if elected?

“One of my priorities would be to talk to the tax collector and business manager about possibly splitting car taxes into two payments for cars that are assessed at a certain value.  I will continue to meet the taxpayers’ needs while maintaining fiscal responsibility. The taxpayers of Naugatuck are my main concern, so I will be available to them and work diligently to address their problems and concerns.”

Rocky Vitale

Rocky Vitale

Rocky Vitale

Age: 58

Party: Democrat

Occupation: Outside Claim Representative, The Harford Insurance Company.

Past political posts: Naugatuck Finance Board (two years); Board of Education (16 years); member Democratic Town Committee. Various subcommittees for the borough.

Why are you running for burgess?

“It’s actually quite selfish. I enjoy and get great satisfaction by being involved and hoping I can make decisions that benefit everyone. I worked on a volunteer ambulance for 32 years and as a volunteer firefighter for 15 years. I always reflected after an emergency call hoping that I did something just a bit better than someone else may have. An action I performed may have saved a life, comforted the sick, or said the right words to someone who lost a loved one. I believe, as a burgess, I can always make informed decisions to benefit the borough.”

What can be done to increase economic development in Naugatuck?

“As with any municipality, the first order of business is planned, controlled growth. Any municipality must be welcoming to new businesses, support existing ones and encourage a mix of both large corporations and mom and pop stores. This is the only way to alleviate the tax burden. The number one issue with residents is taxes. While there has been tremendous effort and some success in negotiating collective bargaining agreements, the momentum must keep going. Infrastructure repair and maintenance should also be a priority. We need to continue to support integrated shared services both within the borough and with our neighbors. Municipalities are in the business of service delivery. We should have a clear attitude of inviting in the public through proper phone etiquette and a customer friendly attitude by borough departments when dealing face to face. Encouragement for groups such as the Naugatuck Education Foundation, which serves a great purpose to support education, the Whittemore Library with it’s many programs and services, and all non-profit resources that target specific areas of service. Economic development starts with a welcoming attitude for all. 

Would you be in favor of privatizing any borough services? Why or why not?

“I would be in favor if projections show it will save tax dollars. There must also be an agreement with any vendor that protects jobs for a specified period of time. We need to not only research immediate savings, but also see if this will be cost effective five years down the road.”

What will be your goals and priorities if elected?

“I firmly believe that you cannot legislate from behind a desk at a meeting. You must be involved, see what is going on in the borough, seek out information and make well informed decisions. Priorities are set by the citizens, balanced with any knowledge a burgess may have that isn’t available to the public. While on the school board, I attended as many parent group meetings as I possibly could. That is where you get your best information, candid comments and can provide feedback. As burgess, I would actively seek out people’s opinions and ideas and integrate these into my thought process. I have served the borough in one capacity or another in volunteer positions for almost 20 years. This is my home. I, along with many others, want to see if flourish. We can do that as long as we keep the lines of communication and our minds open to new thoughts and ideas. I raised three wonderful children here. They had success in school and now have moved on to success in the working world. That is what this borough is all about: helping everyone achieve success as much as possible.”