Candidate profiles: Naugatuck burgess (Republicans)

The Citizen’s News asked candidates running for burgess in Naugatuck in the Nov. 7 municipal election four questions. The responses from Republican candidates are below:

Michael Bronko

Name: Michael Bronko

Age: 55

Party: Republican

Education: Associate Degree in Architectural Engineering

Political experience: Mayor of Naugatuck (2007-2009); Board of Mayor and Burgesses (2011-2015).

Occupation: Owner/Partner Bronko Construction LLC, residential building contractor

Why are you running for burgess?

“I’m running for burgess to share my business skills and experience having run the Borough as mayor. I enjoy helping to make the Borough a better place for our children and families. If elected, you will have a strong voice advocating the best interests of Borough residents.”

What can be done to increase the tax base to help alleviate the burden on residents? 

“I have lived in Naugatuck since 1986 and raised my family here. The last time the Borough had a zero increase budget was when I served as mayor in 2008. My administration worked diligently to keep taxes low so as to help attract businesses to the Borough. Increasing our tax base with new businesses is key to lightening the tax burden on our residents.”

How will you approach crafting a budget and setting a mill rate?

“Working with the Mayor, Finance Board and Board of Burgesses, I will advocate for fiscal responsibility. Coming up with a town budget that lowers taxes is of utmost importance to me and I will work hard to cut spending and government waste. Increasing income and decreasing expenditures is the only way to lower the mill rate.”

What is your message to the voters?

“Having lived in Naugatuck for the past 31 years, my wife Eileen and I have always been community-oriented. Raising our children here, I’ve coached all my boys in the Naugatuck Youth Soccer League. Eileen has served on the Parent Teacher Organizations and as burgess for two terms before I was elected mayor. We take pride in our home town and I will work to ensure that Naugatuck be the best. Period.”

Jack Joseph DeOliveira

Name: Jack Joseph DeOliveira

Age: 24

Party: Republican

Education: Bachelor’s degree in Political Science, minors in Business and Foreign Languages and Literature. Specialization in World Business, the University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, Ala.

Political Experience: Volunteer at the West Alabama Boys and Girls Club. Public Speaker at Naugatuck High School to students pertaining to life after high school (2011-present). Member of the Naugatuck Portuguese Club. Naugatuck Youth Soccer Coach.

Occupation: Legislative Aide, Connecticut House Republicans, Connecticut General Assembly, Hartford.

Why are you running for burgess?

“I am running because we need structural change at the top in our Borough. We need a new brand of action and someone who is willing to be an independent thinker. I look to control spending while stabilizing taxes, ensure our education system has the resources it needs to succeed and focus on economic development. “

What can be done to increase the tax base to help alleviate the burden on residents? 

“Businesses need to be provided with incentives to move into the Borough. We need to remove wasteful spending and focus on driving economic development. In addition to this, community involvement and an improving education system will help bring families into town which is the core of our community. Lastly, we need to prioritize wants and needs for the town. Our taxes are the highest they have ever been and because of this we need to make cuts in places where items are not required at the moment.”

How will you approach crafting a budget and setting a mill rate?

“I will approach this from a fiscally-conservative end. I believe we need to eliminate departmental raises and look to provide savings by out-sourcing or eliminating line items that are not deemed a necessity for the fiscal year. I believe sitting down with department heads is the best way at getting the most accurate costs analysis of why they need the money and how it will be spent. We need to have all of our town departments working together and not competing against one another. I will look to bring a more systematic approach to crafting the budget. There must be more transparency with the individual budgets and when savings are found they should be returned to the people, not spent on other items that are not necessary. We need to restore common sense when it comes to structuring our budget. Just as important, we need to begin focusing on our debt and liabilities. Finally, I will take into account the need to focus on restoring our reserve fund, which is below the minimum recommendation.”

What is your message to the voters?

“Having the same people serving has led to tax increases, a stagnant housing market and declining home values. We need someone who is willing to be the people’s voice for smart growth. I am not afraid to step up and speak for those who feel unheard. I will bring a new outside-the-box approach to our government, I will not just be another ‘yes man.’ I encourage healthy debate and will always stand up for what is best for the whole community. My message to voters will be that they will have my undivided dedication and commitment to moving this Borough forward if I am honored to be elected.”

Tyler Fredericks

Name: Tyler Fredericks

Age:  28

Party: Republican

Education: Naugatuck High School, Class of 2007

Political Experience: Secretary of the Republican Town Committee (2015-present).

Occupation: Loss Prevention Agent, Walmart, Hartford; U.S. Army veteran.

Why are you running for burgess? 

“I am running because I love Naugatuck. I was raised, and educated here my entire life, and it saddens me to see good folks priced out of town by increasing taxes. Instead of sitting back and complaining, I wanted to get involved to be part of the solution.”

What can be done to increase the tax base to help alleviate the burden on residents?  

“We need to help encourage businesses to come to Naugatuck so we can grow the grand list. We can work and assist the Naugatuck Economic Development Corporation to help ‘court’ new companies to our borough. Not only is our location becoming more desirable for businesses due to the recent growth we’ve already seen, but we have enticing tax incentive programs other towns don’t. We just need to let business owners be aware that they could take advantage of this. This will allow us to increase our grand list and ideally reduce the tax burden on our residents.”

How will you approach crafting a budget and setting a mill rate?

“My approach to crafting a budget would be one of fiscal responsibility. I would always ask a few questions when coming to that table: Are we keeping our spending at a reasonable level? Is there enough cost sharing between the departments throughout the town? In what ways might we share services with neighboring communities to reduce costs? Currently we continue to create new positions that we may not necessarily need. One thing that may be beneficial is to do an audit of the finances, and after the auditors give their report then make recommendations on how to trim fat in our budget, effectively reducing our mill rate.”

What is your message to the voters? 

“My message to the voters is a simple one: I am you. I am not a politician. I am your average taxpayer that has had his fair share of living the paycheck-to-paycheck lifestyle that, like you, cannot afford to pay any additional or higher taxes. The difference between myself and some others is that they trust the government with more of your money, but I trust you. I want you, my friends and neighbors, the residents of my beloved town, to be able to keep more of your money in your own pocket. I plan on working hard in order to do so.”

Dorothy A. Hoff

Name: Dorothy A. Hoff

Age: 58

Party: Republican

Education: B.S. from University of Bridgeport, Naugatuck High School, Class of 1977

Political Experience:  Burgess (2015-2017 and 2007-2009) Constituent Aide to the Mayor (2003-2007) Board of Finance member (1995-2003); Charter Revision Commission (2011); Riverwalk Committee (2008); Naugatuck Republican Town Committee member (1995-present, chairwoman, 2010-2014); campaign treasurer for a Secretary of the State campaign and for State Representative campaigns; candidate for Board of Education.

Occupation: While I am not currently employed, I have spent the last 20 plus years volunteering my services for various school, scouting, and community groups in Naugatuck: the United Way of Naugatuck and Beacon Falls, including 2004-2009 Budget and Admissions Committee, Chair of Marketing Committee and Board of Directors member 2009- 2014; Girl Scout Leader for over seven years; President and Newsletter Editor for the parent groups of Maple Hill, City Hill and the Naugatuck Parent School Council; and presently a Naugatuck Historical Society member.

Why are you running for burgess?

“As we grew up in Naugatuck, my husband Bill and I were raised by parents who volunteered to make this a great place to raise a family. We inherited those values and were fortunate to have friends who also loved Naugatuck. Together, we worked to keep that core strength. While it is not the same place it was when we were growing up, what we never lost was our community spirit. When I see how our neighbors and community groups help during tragedies, I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else. It is because I continue to be inspired by our unsung heroes that I offer to serve as a burgess.”

What can be done to increase the tax base to help alleviate the burden on residents? 

“Improving the climate for existing and new businesses is the job of the Naugatuck Economic Development Corporation. In addition to his collaboration with these businesses leaders, the Mayor focuses daily on projects where the Borough Board sees the greatest potential. We discuss direction and progress at every meeting and work to eliminate obstacles and encourage advancement. Still, we are all impatient and rightly so. One way that we can all help is to support our local businesses, shop at our stores and dine at our restaurants. If you would like a Starbucks or Christmas Tree Shop, show prospective buyers that Naugatuck has a supportive customer base. Together, we all can help Naugatuck!”

How will you approach crafting a budget and setting a mill rate?

“To adopt a budget, which best serves Naugatuck, it is important to encourage public input and participation. As a burgess, I have attended many Finance Board workshops, listening to the concerns and requests of the department heads, and also the public hearing, where residents offer their opinions about the proposal. When suggesting changes to the budget, I take into consideration the long-term and future needs of Naugatuck’s residents and businesses. From burgesses who have served more years than myself, I have learned to ask questions determining needs vs. wants. From my own experience on the Finance Board and as a burgess, I have learned that investing in our future is vital.”

What is your message to the voters?

“Do not be swayed by those quick to criticize without offering solutions. Naugatuck’s greatest strength is the spirit of our people, many of whom, like myself, still believe there is hope and great potential. If we see only the negative and do not believe in our worthiness, how can we expect outside businesses and developers to invest in Naugatuck? Pride in our community is the key. Your participation is needed in our community groups, as well as on our local boards and commissions. We have so many organizations working to educate, beautify, and improve our town. There’s a saying, ‘Put your money where your mouth is,’ but we need raised hands even more.”

Robert A. Neth Sr.

Name: Robert A. Neth Sr.

Age: 59

Party: Republican

Education: Thomaston High School, Class of 1976; attended Waterbury State Technical School

Political Experience: Board of Finance (1989-1997, chairman six years); Burgess (1997-current).

Occupation: Local Business owner

Why are you running for burgess?

“To make Naugatuck a better place to live and to take a common sense approach to government. I’m experienced, dedicated, hardworking, an independent thinker and honest.”

What can be done to increase the tax base to help alleviate the burden on residents?

“I will continue to work with Mayor Hess to bring business to town so we can build a grand list to give tax relief to the taxpayers. With Parcel C being developed, we are still working on parcels A and B. The Chemtura property when developed will be a homerun to the town. Like they say if you build it they will come. It has been extremely difficult to replace the Uniroyals, Peter Pauls, Risdons, and Lewis Engineering, hopefully we are on track to rebuild the past with new.”

How will you approach crafting a budget and setting a mill rate?

“I’ve always been extremely vocal on the budget and have proposed many cuts over the years. Unions are the major key to any budget as wages make up a large part. Until we have major changes to unfunded mandates and binding arbitration, union contacts will continue to hinder us. As stated in question two, you need to build grand list, and you have to hold department heads accountable.”

What is your message to the voters?

“My experience and knowledge over the 28 years involved in government on both the Finance Board and as a Burgess. The hard work and common sense approach will prevail in the betterment of Naugatuck. Not many people can say they have been on 29 different subcommittees that have had an impact for a better Naugatuck.”

Donald Wisniewski

Name: Donald Wisniewski

Age: 51

Party: Republican

Education: Seymour High School

Political Experience: Naugatuck Republican Town Committee member; Burgess (2015-2017);  Board of Finance (2013-2015); Liaison to the Conservation Committee, Board of Finance, NEDC, Parks Commission, Police Commission and River Walk Commission.

Occupation: Project Manager

Why are you running for burgess?

“I have been a proud resident of Naugatuck for over 22 years and have seen how great this place can be to raise a family. I am running because and I want to continue to help Naugatuck grow forward in a positive direction. Many families are finding it hard to live here and are faced with great financial challenges and decisions. I want to work with others to try to correct the issues our borough is facing. And continue to help Naugatuck move forward and a great place to live.”

What can be done to increase the tax base to help alleviate the burden on residents?

“I will continue to work with the Board of Mayor and Burgesses and aggressively work hard to build the grand list and bring businesses back into our great borough.”

How will you approach crafting a budget and setting a mill rate?

“With a conservative common-sense approach. We will need to continue to find large savings and build the grand list to begin to lower the mill rate. By consolidating purchasing town-wide is one example of how we may strengthen our buying power. Bulk purchasing will ensure the lowest price. We should also be doing more to work regionally with neighboring towns for large equipment and services, whenever possible. Many other communities throughout the state are, and we are falling behind. These simple common-sense approaches are what I will continue to bring to each line item in the budget.”

What is your message to the voters?

“I will continue to be focused on what counts, the citizens of our great borough of Naugatuck and work hard protecting our tax dollars.”