Upcoming Election Promises to Be a Milestone In More Than One Way
For the first time in recent Woodbridge history, the municipal election this year will take place in November, along with the election of most other municipalities in the state. With the retirement of First Selectwoman Beth Heller at the end of this term, Woodbridge will be getting a new crop of officials taking their seat in the Town Hall meeting room.
Running at the top of the Democratic ticket is Mica Cardozo, who has been part of town government in a number of ways, in particular as a member of the Board of Selectmen, although he stepped back from that position two years ago. Nevertheless, he served as deputy selectman and chair of the ad hoc Ordinance Committee, and his experience with municipal government goes way back and covers many groups, namely the Economic Development Commission, the Police and Fire commissions, and the Recreation Commission. If elected, he would also be Woodbridge’s first First Selectman of color.
He retired earlier this year after a distinguished career as a business development and sales executive with SNET and with AT&T.
Cardozo’s running mates for the Board of Selectmen are Democrats Sheila McCreven, Maria Madonick and Steve Munno.
The Republican ticket also has its firsts. It is politically diverse, in that they field two unaffiliated candidates, and even a Democrat for the Amity Board of Education. At the top of the ticket is Marty Halprin, an unaffiliated candidate with deep roots in the community. He runs a property management and is the president of B’nai Jacob synagogue. He recently retired from the Milford Fire Department as Battalion Chief in charge of Planning, Safety and Training.
Joining Halprin for the Board of Selectmen are incumbent David Vogel, and new to the board Javier Aviles and Andrea Urbano (Unaffiliated).
Boards of Education: Lynn Piascyk, a Republican, and chairwoman of the Woodbridge Board of Education, is running for re-election, as is fellow board member Jeff Hughes. Candidates for the Amity Board of Education on the Republican ticket are Bruce Marien, a Democrat, and Daniel Del Prete. Candidates on the Democratic line are Patrick Reed and Sudhir Karunakaran, both incumbents on the Amity board; and Steven Lawrence and Erin Williamson for the Woodbridge Board of Education.
Appeals Boards: Town Plan and Zoning members are being appointed by the new Board of Selectmen, but the Zoning Board of Appeals is an elected board. Running on the Republican ticket are Clifford Lynch Jr. and Cynthia Gibbons; and as alternates Jaime Nichol and Chris Dickerson. On the Democratic ticket are Shawn Flynn and Kalman Watsky for the Zoning Board of Appeals and Lauren Francese as an alternate.
For the Board of Assessment Appeals, the Democrats are fielding Jeff Ginzberg; the Republicans Annitta Ingraham.
Marty Halprin: When Marty Halprin joined the local fire department some 25 years ago as a volunteer, he was discussing local politics with fellow firefighters. “I felt like I really should run for first selectmen,” he said. “I’d be the youngest first selectman the town ever had.”
Well, 25 years later – now in his early 50s, married and with three daughters – he would still be the youngest first selectman, at least in recent history. In addition, he would be the first unaffiliated first selectman.
Asked why he decided to run, he said he felt there was a need, that there were a number of unresolved issues, and he felt he could have an impact. In the end it was the Republican Town Committee that suggested the top spot, and he agreed to it. His pledge is to leave partisan politics behind. “We’ll do what’s right for Woodbridge,” he said.
Like other Republicans before him, he’d like to initiate a Charter revision, and to introduce a referendum for the budget approval, much like the Amity budget.
Country Club: Both Halprin and Cardozo said the future of the Country Club is an important issue on voters’ minds.
Halprin feels past administrations were too focused on putting housing there. “A true evaluation [of all options] needs to be done,” he said, wondering why a survey conducted a few years ago was never used in the decision-making process. With a more careful analysis, some type of housing might come out on top, he said, but the town bought the property as open space, and if housing is the answer, there needs to be a reason why this is the first choice.
Similarly, Cardozo expressed openness to all options, but “the only thing I am really opposed to is inaction,” he added, calling it a missed opportunity. The property should be considered an asset to the town, and the townspeople have agency in how to use it.
Obviously, it’s contentious, he added. But “we all want what’s good for the town.” And at this point the property is so neglected that almost anything seems preferable to what’s there. He said the realization that very close to the former Country Club of Woodbridge property Yale owns a large nature preserve and that has changed his own assessment of the need for a large open space tract.
Cardozo said he had not seen the responses to an RFP (Request for Proposal) the town put out last August, looking for a consultant to guide the town through the process of finding an answer.
Cardozo said the question of the Country Club needs to be assessed in light of all the needs of the town – housing is one, but also school enrollment, taxes, economic development, open space and recreation. “It’s a conversation we have to have, a consensus we have to reach,” he said, with emphasis.
“This certainly is not political,” he said. “The town needs to figure out where the needs are and how to fill them, in the best interest of the town.”
You can view candidate bios here on the Woodbridge Town News website.
This is an opinion not necessarily endorsed by the Woodbridge Town News.