What truly matters in town leadership and management? Mike Burke is in a contest for Darien Selectman whose candidates all meet intellectual and relatable competence for the job. They are all kind people with a public service record. But I realize after a recent candidates’ discussion event, the ONE required quality that rises above all others, Mike Burke has. Residents rely on town officials for this ONE, sometimes invisible but hugely important attribute.
I am the business manager of Trumbull Public Schools, and in the past 13 years have had similar responsibilities in Ridgefield and Plymouth. In the interests of full-disclosure and transparency, I have routinely provided the Boards of Finance in those towns any financial information they requested (redacting students’ names to protect confidentiality). None of the Boards of Education in those towns invoked the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) before such information was shared. In one town I met with the Board of Finance monthly to review the school budget. Ms. Ochman’s attempt to utilize Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to stonewall the Darien Board of Finance’s request for data to update its five-year projections is ludicrous.
To the editor:
When it comes to politics, local issues are the things that impact our daily lives the most.
Safe neighborhoods, a vibrant downtown, thoughtful development, great schools, clean parks, well-maintained sidewalks, roads and public facilities and best-in-class emergency services — at a sustainable price for tax payers — are foundational to our quality of life. The people we elect as our local leaders matter! Local leaders set the vision for our town and, important in these divisive times, the tone of policy and political discourse. They determine the size of your local tax bill. Our leaders should advocate for Darien beyond our borders and must be willing to support our town’s future free from unsolicited regional and state interference.
There is no greater privilege than serving as an elected or appointed official. Thank you for trusting me for 10 years to serve as your first selectman!
I’m writing to express my support for Julie Best and Stacey Tié for the Darien Board of Education. And, for full disclosure, I’m a registered Republican. I believe it is of vital importance to understand that the Board of Ed is not a political position. Board of Ed members should be chosen in a similar fashion to how our tremendous police department is staffed, accountability and meritocracy. Personally, I just want the most qualified people in charge, regardless of their political backgrounds.
We moved to town for the outstanding public schools like many others. Today we find our schools at a crossroads, and in order to continue to inspire Darien’s children to be lifelong learners who think critically and innovatively while making a difference in the world with integrity, we need leaders that do the same. Leaders that focus on what matters to Darien’s kids, families and community. Julie Best & Stacey Tie are those leaders. Time and time again, Julie and Stacey have shown us the leaders that they are, the people that they are.
I have written a few versions of my letter in support for Democratic Board of Education candidates Julie Best and Stacey Tie. Truthfully, there are too many positive attributes to discuss in such a limited amount of space. However, after the incidents of hate were displayed earlier this fall, I had an ‘aha’ moment for the focus of my letter: Julie and Stacey will work on behalf of EVERY single child within the Darien Public Schools, regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, gender and sexual identity, ability, popularity, socioeconomic status and parent political affiliation. I have known Julie and Stacey for almost seven years, ever since meeting them on the Council of Darien School Parents. Though we started as colleagues, I now consider them both friends.
Stacey Tié and Julie Best are the most inclusive candidates for the Board of Education and have my vote. They bring the experience, energy and compassion that’s needed to ensure our schools remain a positive climate for all kids to learn and that teachers have the training and resources they need to deliver successful outcomes for our diverse student population. Our town needs continued remediation to the impacts of COVID-19 on education, such as mental health, social skills, literacy and executive functioning. Now more than ever, we need leaders on the Board of Education who understand the importance of social-emotional learning — because kids with strong mental health and resilience are better able to learn and thrive. As longtime engaged residents of Darien with children of all ages across Darien Public Schools, Stacey and Julie are champions of children.
To the editor:
As expressed in recent letters to the editor, Julie Best and Stacey Tie have shown tireless dedication to our schools. With years of experience in various PTO leadership roles, along with Stacey’s service on the Representative Town Meeting’s Finance and Budget Committee, Julie and Stacey will be well-prepared, productive members of the Board of Education, as their knowledge and experience are invaluable assets. Additionally, Julie and Stacey consistently demonstrate excellent character, a quality that is vital in the candidates we elect to our public boards. A fitting reference for ideal character traits of BoE members is the District’s newly adopted Vision of the Graduate, a collaborative vision of the skills and dispositions of resilient problem-solvers and leaders that will prepare students to thrive in a changing world. Students, parents, teachers, administrators, community leaders, and BoE members first met in March of 2020; with continuous work and input from numerous focus groups, the Vision was presented, adopted, and almost unanimously supported by the Board of Education in June of 2021.
Please support candidates Monica McNally, Jon Zagrodzky and Marcy Minnick for the Darien Board of Selectmen. Darien is fortunate to have three proven leaders that are ready to help lead our well managed Town into the future. As Darien faces increased pressure from Hartford to take more from Darien and give us less, these three, with Monica as the leader, are the critical voices our Town needs. Monica has given back to Darien ever since she arrived in town. She is currently a selectman and has a strong background in finance.
I am writing to urge Darien residents to vote for Sarah Neumann for the Board of Selectmen for Darien. Now more than ever Darien needs leaders focused on understanding how issues affect residents and businesses, who do the hard work to know the details and history of any issue. Sarah is that person. I currently serve on the Board of Selectmen with Sarah and can attest that she is dedicated to listening and responding to resident needs. Whether it be Eversource’s tree cutting on Littlebrook Road, or flooding issues on Crimmins, Saltbox or Coachlamp, she is always responding to resident inquiries and reaching out proactively to understand their concerns.
Darien has an important choice to make in November in deciding who can best provide the type of strong leadership we’ve come to expect from our first selectman during Jayme Stevenson’s successful tenure. I would like to share my perspective on candidate Monica McNally with the Darien community, as I had the pleasure of working with her during the campaign to reduce plastic use in Darien, as a co-chair of BYO Darien. Monica was assigned by the Public Works Committee to present our petition to the full Representative Town Meeting and move the process forward. She performed very diligent research and investigated the potential impact of our petition on the Darien community from all possible angles. She created very relevant documentation to satisfy questions from the RTM members when she presented the petition to them.
To the editor,
I have served with Monica McNally on the Representative Town Meeting in various capacities since she first joined the Public Works Subcommittee, a committee she would chair the following session. I also worked alongside Monica on the Rules Committee to the RTM and the Technology Subcommittee to the Rules Committee during the most recent legislative session. In each of these leadership roles Monica consistently demonstrated a willingness to jump in, listen, learn and do whatever necessary to benefit our town and residents. Through hard work, patience, inclusiveness, curiosity and fiscal good sense, I observed Monica would build a solid knowledge base that governed her actions on the items that came before her. By taking into consideration the perspectives of various constituencies Monica was instrumental in advancing environmental, safety and operational initiatives, with budgetary discipline taxpayers expect to improve the quality of life in Darien.
It’s hard for me to express how much I support the candidacies of Julie Best and Stacey Tie for the Board of Education. We were all on the Council of Darien School Parents together for years, and no one was more dedicated and enthusiastic in representing the parents of Darien. Many people don’t know how much work being a great parent representative is; CDSP members attend a fair number of Board of Ed meetings. Julie and Stacey attend all of them. Being a member of the Board of Education requires absorbing an enormous amount of information — these two are ahead of the game!
Starting in December 2018 I served with Monica McNally on the Representative Town Meeting’s Public Works Committee. As chairman, Monica demonstrated knowledge, tolerance, consideration, inclusiveness, curiosity and sensible budgetary leadership. Monica was instrumental in the passing of numerous initiatives and budgetary items resulting in significant positive impact to the quality of life in Darien. These important infrastructure initiatives don’t gain much notoriety but they foster improvements to town safety, sidewalks, roads, waste management and recycling, sewer and storm drainage, etc. She also served on the RTM Rules Committee and subcommittee for technology.
I‘ve lived in Darien for 35 years and served as a public official for 28 years (12 years on the Representative Town Meeting and 16 years as your town treasurer). But, I’ve never heard of the situation that occurred on Sept. 26! That day, two U.S. senators and a U.S. congressmen came to Darien to insert themselves into our First Selectman race supporting the Democratic candidate. Why so involved in our small town of about 21,000 people and a local political race?