BEACON FALLS — A familiar face will lead Beacon Falls Democrats into the November elections.
Selectman Christopher Bielik was endorsed by the Democratic Town Committee to run for first selectman during Monday night’s caucus.
“I am truly humbled to accept this nomination,” said Bielik, who is in his first term on the Board of Selectmen.
Bielik said he spent 22 years in the Navy and held many positions within that branch of the military, including running the entire infrastructure of the U.S. Naval Reserve.
His last job in the Navy, which lasted three years, was the commander of a small naval air reserve training base in Minnesota.
“[It was] very much like running a small town,” Bielik said. “People don’t realize that in the military not every worker is wearing a uniform. There’s a lot of civil servant folks, and those civil servant folks have unions. And I have dealt with those kind of folks. So everything that the first selectman of this town does on a day-in-and-day-out basis I’ve already seen it up close and personal and I’ve lived it for three years.”
Although Bielik, who moved to town in 2001, is an incumbent, he said he had to earn the right to be nominated again.
“I never took it as a de facto thing that just because I got elected to the Board of Selectmen that I had some kind of right to this spot. I knew that I was going to have to earn it from the people on the town committee and all Democrats in this town. I’m hoping that having them see what I have brought to the table for the past two years was going to give them confidence that an outsider would be somebody that they could put their trust in,” Bielik said.
Former First Selectman Susan Cable, who nominated Bielik, said he has shown leadership while fighting from the underdog position on the Board of Selectmen.
“Here’s a man who has had proven leadership,” Cable said. “As a military commander, on the Board of Finance, and at his financial jobs has shown his proven leadership.”
Running with Bielik for the selectman position is Peter Betkoski, chairman of the Democratic Town Committee.
Betkoski said he has lived his entire life in Beacon Falls and plans to stay in town for the rest of his days.
“I have passion for this town like you can’t imagine. I didn’t like where the last two years went. We have a lot of work to do. It can be done. We can’t take anything for granted,” Betkoski said.
Cable, who is Betkoski’s sister, said Betkoski has the dedication to make sure the town is run the right way.
“He has the fire in his belly to do what is right. He has a dedication to make sure the community is run the honest, safe, and truly transparent way,” Cable said.
Incumbent Sheryl Feducia was endorsed for re-election for a four-year term to the Region 16 Board of Education. The board oversees schools in Beacon Falls and Prospect. Feducia has served on the board for approximately 14 years.
“As everyone knows I am very devoted to all the kids in the region. Every parent and teacher I’ve spoken to, including the ones present, know that the kids are my number one priority, and that’s our focus,” Feducia said.
David Rybinski, a new candidate for school board, also received the committee’s endorsement to run for a four-year term. Rybinski is a former fire chief of Beacon Hose Company No. 1 and current member of the School Building Committee.
Rybinski said he has already managed to procure grant money for the new school building project, saving the taxpayers money.
“I’ve been working on this building committee for a couple years. Already made progress with savings. So I feel very confident that I can help out the town of Beacon Falls in representing it on the Board of Education,” Rybinski said.
Incumbent Jim Huk was endorsed for re-election to the Board of Finance.
“He’s a fighter. He’s an individual. He works hard for the taxpayers of Beacon Falls,” Cable said.
Huk, who currently chairs the finance board, took the open position on the board that Bielik left when he became a selectman.
“I thank you for the opportunity to run and I’m looking forward to hopefully sending us in right direction financially,” Huk said.
Newcomers Kevin McDuffie and Wendy Rodorigo were nominated to run for the positions of town clerk and town treasurer respectively. The committee endorsed newcomer Maryann Holloway to run for tax collector.
The nominations for the Zoning Board of Appeals went to incumbents Carl Gandarillas and Susan Wisneski.
The caucus nominated newcomer Eva Newall to run for the Board of Assessment Appeals.
Newcomers Jessica DeGennaro and Patty Caldwell were nominated to run for the Library Board of Trustees.
Following the caucus, Betkoski was satisfied with the slate of candidates.
“It’s the best slate I’ve seen in years. I can’t believe how lucky we got,” Betkoski said.
Bielik was pleased to be on top the slate this year.
“I am thrilled with our slate. We have a mix of old and new. We have a mix of experienced people who are coming back to the table one more time and new blood that are bringing fresh ideas with lots of credentials to the table. I could not be more excited about the people we are bringing into the November election. I think it’s going to be a good year and a good start of things for the town,” Bielik said.