Candidate profiles: Naugatuck Burgess Republicans

Burgesses

Michael Bronko

Age: 51

Party: Republican

Occupation: Building contractor. Bronko Construction LLC/CEO

Past political posts: Mayor (2007-2009); Burgess (2011-2013)

Michael Bronko

Michael Bronko

Why are you running for burgess?

“Community involvement is very important to me and my family. Volunteering at church functions, coaching soccer, serving as the borough’s mayor and currently serving as burgess have been my way of giving back to the community. My experience in the mayor’s office gives me a strong background and understanding of our government which is an asset to the borough board.”

What can be done to increase economic development in Naugatuck?

“Economic development is vital to expanding our tax base which will lower our taxes. We must be business-friendly to attract new companies as well as keep our existing businesses in Naugatuck. To do that we must provide an environment that all businesses will be happy to call home, create ways to help lower their expenses and build upon our communities assets to make the space available for expansion and new construction.”

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

“Privatizing some of our borough services makes good fiscal sense. VNA is a hot topic, but if it’s done properly, all the services that are provided to our residents will not diminish but will actually be increased and it won’t cost the borough the hundreds of thousands of dollars annually that we are paying currently.”

What will be your goals and priorities if elected?

“As your Burgess, I will be your voice. I will keep watch over our community to see that all governmental activities are done properly and in order. I will continue working to keep Naugatuck moving forward in the right direction.”

Catherine Ernsky

Catherine Ernsky

Catherine Ernsky

Age: 43

Party: Republican

Occupation: President, The Ernsky Group

Past political posts: Currently Burgess; State Central Member representing the 15th district; commissioner for the Permanent Commission on the Status of Women; Republican Town Committee member; Past: Government Relations for Fairfield Chamber of Commerce, member Agents for Change.

Why are you running for burgess?

“I’m running for burgess because I care about this town and the people in it. Having lived here since I was 7 I believe that we are at a pivotal point in Naugatuck’s history with my business background lending itself to bringing fresh ideas and making hard decisions when needed.”

What can be done to increase economic development in Naugatuck?

“A stronger focus on bringing businesses into Naugatuck and working better with the businesses we currently have in town.”

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

“Yes, I believe there are certain functions that we currently support on a town level that would be more economical and we would see an increased level of service if they were privatized.”

What will be your goals and priorities if elected?

My goal is to make decisions based on the betterment of the town, both in the short and long term. My priority will be to focus on are our most critical issues, which are education, taxes and economic development.”

Edward J. Fennell

Edward J. Fennell

Edward J. Fennell     

Age: 48

Party: Republican

Occupation: Sales manager

Past political posts: Appointed to the vacant seat of Burgess Ron San Angelo 

Why are you running for burgess?

“I am running for Burgess because for many years I have been on the sidelines complaining about the political landscape. Now is my time to enter the race and try to see where I can put my common-sense approach to work in affecting positive change in our community. Naugatuck is a great place and I believe together we can make it even better.”

What can be done to increase economic development in Naugatuck?

“We need to make our town more business friendly. There are many natural resources in Naugatuck. We should explore ways to use the Naugatuck River to draw more visitors and businesses to our community. We need to effectively support and promote our small businesses. Working with the NEDC we need to vigorously pursue midsize companies so our young people have quality job opportunities right here in town. If we do not have a positive business environment our children will be forced to seek other opportunities in other towns and states and that would be unfortunate.”

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

“I would be in favor of privatizing borough services when and where it would benefit both the taxpayers and the employees. I would like to investigate all opportunities to privatize but not just for the sake of privatizing; instead, I would like an opportunity to use my common-sense approach to examine areas that taxpayers could save money without compromising the quality of life.”

What will be your goals and priorities if elected?

“Being a political newcomer I will first seek to understand the system. My priority is to figure out how to reduce taxes while still protecting those residents who need a helping hand. My common-sense approach will help me quickly identify these areas and work towards thoughtful solutions. My goal is to serve my community in such a way that we grow into a vibrant community where our residents have opportunities to find employment or start a business and enjoy a prosperous life here in town.”

Bob Neth

Robert Neth

Robert Neth Sr.

Age: 55

Party: Republican

Occupation: Local business owner

Past political posts: Finance Board (1989-1997) chairman for six years; Burgess (1997 – present); Chairman Naugatuck High School Renovation Project, 5 year Capital Committee, Solar Energy Committee, Town Audit Committee, Revaluation Committee; Liaison to the Park Department and Finance Department; Charter Revision Commission; Long Term Facilities Planning Committee

Why are you running for burgess?

“I’m running for office to make Naugatuck a better place to live and take a common sense approach to government. I’m fair, honest, consistent and an independent thinker on all issues.”

What can be done to increase economic development in Naugatuck?

“With our new NEDC director on board, Ron will do an excellent job in getting business to come to Naugatuck, we have set the ground work to do the job. We have a plan of development for downtown. The purchase of GDC was big so we can move forward.

People don’t realize that if we didn’t purchase it we would be stagnant for years to come, this has opened the door for the next step.”

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

“I believe the VNA can be privatized and still give the excellent care and maybe add more services. As you look at the budget for the last few years you could see the revenue numbers dropping. Youth services has changed a lot in the last 15-20 years, we have gone from the youth to more of family services. I don’t believe the town should be in the family services business. There has been talk about trash collection being privatized, this is something that has been talked about a few times over the last 15 years, as you put the numbers together it didn’t make since. Do we want to look at the plan again?”

What will be your goals and priorities if elected? 

“My goals have always been the same, work to make Naugatuck a better place to live now and in the future. I am involved with the most important committees that impact Naugatuck now and in the future. Redevelopment and town and school infrastructure are necessary for the future of Naugatuck.”

Alexander Olbrys

Alexander Olbrys

Alexander Olbrys

Age: 21

Party: Republican

Occupation: Full-time student at Southern Connecticut State University; Part-time customer service manager at Walmart

Past political posts: Currently on Inland Wetlands Commission (two years)

Why are you running for burgess?

“I am running for burgess because I believe that Naugatuck is a great town, but too many of our younger residents are leaving. They just don’t feel that Naugatuck has anything to offer. We need to make a change in our town government and the way that we promote our town, and make Naugatuck a destination again.”

What can be done to increase economic development in Naugatuck?

“Coming from the wetlands commission I bring a different way of thinking to the discussion on how to move Naugatuck forward. I believe that we can move this town forward by utilizing the natural resources that we have here in town. We have the Naugatuck River which more people are kayaking and fishing in, we have the Naugatuck State Forest, which I believe is our untapped gem, and we have the new Naugatuck Greenway that our town is investing in. Marketing these aspects of our town will bring new residents and new business in. Many people I know will take day trips to use the Farmington River Greenway, or they will drive to Shelton to use their greenway. People also drive upstate to take day hikes in our beautiful Litchfield Hills section of the state. I however believe that the Naugatuck State Forest can offer similar beauty and awe that you find in the Litchfield Hills. Our state forest has waterfalls and scenic views of the Naugatuck Valley and River. If we market this forest and our new greenway I know that Naugatuck will become a destination town, and not just a drive by town. Once we get people coming to our town to use these resources that we have, business will be attracted to our town. This will be much like what happened in Shelton. Our downtown will begin to boom again. This process however will take some time, and it will be a snow ball effect. Once one business comes in we will see the town grow. Our town needs new fresh ideas to move it forward.”

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

At this point in time borough services have to become revenue neutral. There are a lot of elderly and single parents in the borough who simply cannot afford to pay higher taxes.  If a borough service is not revenue neutral we need to take a serious look at that particular service and see how we can get it to be revenue neutral. We need to have a serious discussion and see if there is a benefit to privatizing certain services. At the end of the day it may be cheaper for the borough to continue to provide certain services, or it may not be. But until we have hard data to look at, I do not think that any definite decision can be made on whether or not certain borough services should be privatized.”

What will be your goals and priorities if elected?

“My main goal would be to work with NEDC to promote economic growth in the borough. We need to make Naugatuck more marketable in the state. We also need to know what an economically healthy town has, meaning what percent is large business, what percent is small business, what percent is retail, and what percent is residential. As a burgess I would not be afraid to contact other communities around the state and around the country that turned their towns into destinations. We need to talk with these other communities to find out what worked for them, and what didn’t work.”

Tamath Rossi

Tamath Rossi

Tamath K. Rossi

Age: 47

Party: Republican

Occupation: Self-employed paralegal Rossi Title Company LLC

Past political posts, Burgess and Deputy Mayor (2003-present)

Why are you running for burgess?

“In this very uncertain economic climate, my desire is to continue to fight for the interest of the taxpayers of this community while ensuring that core services continue to be provided to the highest standard possible. As a mother, small business owner and resident of this wonderful community I will continue to provide, focused, fair and dedicated service with results, to the resident of this town.”

What can be done to increase economic development in Naugatuck?

“A key in economic development is to be focusing on the borough-owned downtown property. The Naugatuck Economic Development Corporation is currently managing the incoming proposals. With growth and building on the downtown properties, we will be able to grow and build our economic development. In addition, there are some recent developments that I believe will assist in this goal as well. The first is a tax abatement structure that can be offered to existing and incoming businesses. This structure, granted on a case-by-case basis, was created by the Naugatuck Economic Development Corporation, of which I am a member. This will allow Naugatuck to be competitive with other communities in attempting to attract new businesses and grow existing ones. In addition the recent approval to lift restrictions within the Industrial Park regarding lot sizes will permit current owners of property in the park to subdivide and sell of unused portions of their properties, thus allowing there to be additional property and locations for incoming businesses.”

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

“In the current economic climate, I believe we have a responsibility to consider all options available to ease the burden on our taxpayers. That being said, however, I do not believe in making any decisions to privatize borough services without a solid look at the details, conducting a full cost benefit assessment and ensuring that such a decision will yield an effective result for our taxpayers.”

What will be your goals and priorities if elected?

“My priority is to continue with the many projects and committees I serve on and to bring common sense leadership to our borough government and ensure that the citizens of Naugatuck have a voice on the local level. I will continue to work diligently to address concerns of our residents and pursue these tasks and projects to completion while representing the residents’ voices with focused leadership, dedication, respect, action and results.”