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RTM Fourth District Preview

Three Incumbents, Five Challengers Vie For Six Spots

As it is every two years, all six spots are up for re-election in the Representative Town Meeting’s Fourth District. This year, though, only three of the six incumbents are running for re-election.

Current RTM members Dr. John Foley, George White and Michael Cannamela will not seek re-election. Meanwhile, five challengers enter the race.

The Fourth District covers parts of the Goshen and Jordan districts in the town.

The Incumbents

Republican Robert Brule is the coach of the Waterford High School soccer team and works for Project Genesis, Inc, as an acquired brain injury program manager. Brule is also on the School Building Committee and is seeking his second term on the RTM.

Republican Thomas Dembek, who is the head of the Republicans in the RTM, and Democrat Timothy Sullvin, who is the chief of the Jordan Fire Company, both did not return questionnaires.

The Challengers

Democrat Elizabeth “Libby” Friedman is the assistant director of arts and technology in the Ammerman Center at Connecticut College, and a newcomer to Waterford politics. Friedman said she is excited to get involved in multiple municipal issues, including Seaside and taxes, according to her questionnaire.

Republican David Lewis is also a newcomer to Waterford politics, and is a senior vice president at People’s United Bank. Lewis said in his questionnaire he will push for a zero or minimal tax increases, and his experience working in finance will help him do that.

Democrat Martin Zeldis also is new to Waterford politics, and works as the chief of legal services for the Connecticut Public Defenders Officer. In his questionnaire, Zeldis said Waterford has acted too much like an “island,” and “needs to be mindful of and helpful to our nearby neighbors.”

Republican Leon Goss and Democrat Sue Driscoll, who is the legislative aid for State Sen. Andrea Stillman, did not return questionnaires.

 

Martin Zeldis

Age: 67

Address:  2 Goundry Drive

Employment:  At present I am the Chief of Legal Services for the Connecticut Public Defenders Office.  This means that I head the statewide public defenders appellate office which is responsible for all direct criminal appeals and habeas corpus appeals brought by persons who are unable to afford private counsel.  Prior to doing appellate criminal work I spent nine years in the Hartford Public Defender Office doing Part A criminal trials.  I have been a Public Defender for over twenty-five years

I am presently and have for the past thirteen summers been an adjunct instructor at the University of Connecticut School of Law teaching their Appellate Moot Court Program.

From 2001 to 2003 I was a professor at the Quinnipiac University School of Law teaching their Criminal Appellate Clinic.

Prior to becoming a public defender I was an attorney at Connecticut Legal Services where for most of my thirteen years there I was the managing attorney for their New London County offices and worked in New London handling a wide array of civil matters (family, landlord-tenant, Social Security Disability etc.) for people who could not afford private counsel.

I started my career as a VISTA (Volunteers In Service To America) Volunteer.  My wife and I were assigned to Wichita Kansas where I worked with the Legal Aid Office as well as a large number of community agencies and groups.

Education

Conard High School, West Hartford, Connecticut

Syracuse University, Syracuse, New York

Albany Law School, Albany, New York, J.D. Degree

Incumbant:  No

Previous Elected Experience:  None

Civic Experience:  At present I am an active member of my Temple’s Social Action Committee.  I also organize and participate in Monthly Housing Builds for Habitat for Humanity and I Volunteer at the New London Meals Center (Soup Kitchen)—primarily as a dishwasher.

In the 1970s, 1980s into the early 1990s I was on the Board of Directors(and sometimes an officer) of a large number of Community organizations. These included: TVCCA, Centro de la Comunidad, Jewish Family Services, Concern Inc. (for ex-offenders), Temple Emanu-el etc.

Top Issue Facing the Town and Some Ideas:  I am a social liberal and a fiscal conservative.  I believe that long term it is necessary to address our education system both locally and regionally.  On the one hand Education drains an enormous percentage of the town’s resources.  On the other hand, Waterford’s education program is viewed as one of the best and most successful in the state.  Yet on still another hand Waterford is often viewed as an island protecting its perceived largess and shutting out other neighboring communities where the plight is much greater than in Waterford.  While this might not be within the direct purview of the RTM, the principles apply across the board in the town.  Waterford needs to get better at protecting and providing for the needs of it own residents while remembering that it is not an island and needs to be mindful of and helpful to our nearby neighbors.

My impression of Waterford and hope for the town is that it can fully understand that while the town is fiscally sound, it is not the same town, with the abundance of riches, that it was 25 and 30 years ago.  There is a need to prioritize the needs of our citizens in a fair way and at the same time provide a high quality of basic services for every resident.

 

David A. Lewis, Jr.

Age: 46

Address: 52 New Shore Road

Employment:

I am currently employed as a Senior Vice President, Group Head for the National Credits Real Estate & CREF Real Estate Participation Group of People’s United Bank in Bridgeport, CT

 Education:

  • High School: Nathan Hale-Ray High School - Graduated 1983
  • College: University of Connecticut - Graduated December 1987

Degree:  Bachelor of Science

Major:  Finance with related studies in Real Estate and Urban Economics

Incumbent:  No

Previous Elected Experience:  None

Civic experience (appointments, non-profits):

  • Member – Cambridge “Who’s Who”
  • Member – Real Estate Finance Association
  • Member – Real Estate Lender Association (RELA)
  • Board Member – Friends of Harkness Memorial State Park, Inc.
  • Board Member – Friends of CT State Parks, Inc.
  • Financial Secretary – Waterford Association, Inc.
  • Former Board Member – Capitol Region Workforce Development Board
  • Former Commission Member – 1989 Consolidation Commission, Town of Colchester
  • Former President & Vice President – Waterford Association, Inc.
  • Former Member – Connecticut Association of Realtors (CAR)

Top issue facing the Town and Ideas to Address the Issue:

There are a few issues facing the town including Safety and Education, however, maintaining optimal town services and excellent education programs with a zero to a minimal tax increase to the citizens of Waterford, therefore, must remain the top priority.

As a result of its re-evaluation and declining contribution, Millstone went from contributing more than 60%, now down to approximately 30.0% to the grand list.  At the same time, however, our senior citizens and many residents have remained on limited or fixed incomes. The challenge for the RTM members will be to remain fiscally prudent with the taxpayer’s money while protecting the services that are vital to preserving the quality of life in Waterford.

As a candidate I am interested in exploring every efficiency in town government.  Collectively we must use economies of scale to our advantage.

My professional work experience as a Senior Vice-President at People’s United Bank, specializing in finance, commercial real estate and urban economics, equips me with the insight and skills necessary to make sound and informed financial decisions.  I do it for the bank and I will be able to do it for the Town.

I am very interested in exploring “regionalization” through communication and cooperation with our neighboring Towns, and combining resources within our own Town Departments.  The longer we push off the discussion and possible implementation of regionalization, the more opportunities we will lose to save costs for our town. 

Progress through Cooperation” is the message that I would like to convey to my constituents in the 4th District.

 

Elizabeth “Libby” Friedman

Age: 53

Address: 21 Lloyd Road

Employment (if retired, when and from what):

1996 - present: Assistant Director, Ammerman Center for Arts and Technology at Connecticut College

1997 – present: Director of Thames Valley Music School Arts Camp

Education: Connecticut College, BA, 1981 (Art and Art History

Incumbent? No

Previous elected experience: none

Civic experience (appointments, non-profits):

Board of Directors: Solomon Schechter Academy (2007 – present); New London Landmarks, New London Historical Society

Volunteer Activities: Congregation Beth El, Children’s Museum, Waterford Drama

Top issue facing and the town and his/her ideas:

I am excited about becoming involved with many municipal issues, including the schools, taxes, Seaside, public safety issues, traffic, etc.

Robert Brule

Representative Robert J. Brule was elected to the RTM in 2009,
representing the 4th District, and is seeking his second term in office.

A life-long resident of Waterford, Representative Brule grew up on Country Club Drive and attended Great Neck Elementary School, Clark Lane Middle School and
Waterford High School.  At Waterford High, he served as Class President
during his sophomore, junior, and senior years and was a 2-time all-state soccer player.

In 1990 and 1991, Representative Brule was a volunteer soccer coach for the Waterford High School boys soccer team before becoming the assistant coach for the girls team in 1992 and 1993.  Since 1994, he has been the Head Coach of the Waterford High School girls soccer team (18 years) where he has led the Lancers to 11 Eastern Connecticut Conference Championships in 12 years and has been named Coach of the Year four times.  His overall record is 200-68-20 over the past 17 seasons and includes a state final appearance in 2002.

Representative Brule's public service to the Town of Waterford has included many capacities. In 1990 and 1991 he sat on the Student Assistance Team at Waterford High School.  From 1999-2007, he served on the Recreation and Parks Commission and was the Commissions Chairman from 2003-2005.  From 2002-2006 he was Chairman of the Community Campus Building Committee, which was a 4-year commitment to oversee the $7 million dollar project from conceptual design and public hearings, to final construction and change orders. 

Most recently, in 2009, Representative Brule was selected to the School Building Committee, and he is currently overseeing the $68 million dollar Waterford High School project, as well as the completion of the town's three new elementary schools.

Representative Brule is currently employed by Project Genesis, Inc., a non-profit social service company, where he is an Acquired Brain Injury Program Manager and certified as a Brain Injury Specialist.  He is currently certified as a CPR and First Aid Instructor for the American Red Cross and certified by the State of Connecticut as an Instructor for Physical + Psychological Management Training. 

Representative Brule earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Maine, where he was a Division I scholarship soccer player.  He currently resides on Leary Drive in Waterford with his wife of 18 years, Kimberley.

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