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The Lakeville Journal Editorial

Local elections are different from statewide or national ones, or at least they ought to be. The partisanship that reigns in the wider elections should find some respite at the municipal level. In small towns such as those of the Northwest Corner, candidates are often known personally by many voters, who are also their neighbors. So one might hope that political lines would be more lightly drawn during these elections.

Party delineations, however, still matter and a vote is cast with not only the skills, energies and dedication of the candidates in mind, but also their affiliations and loyalties which will drive post-election agendas. Still, one stand this newspaper will take is to request of our readers some perspective on the needs of their towns and school systems as they decide on those who are most deserving of their support. Regardless of party affiliation, those who are most reasonable, objective and able to take responsibility for their actions as elected representatives of the public should be the ones who win the most votes.

Not all races are contested, but a number are, in this season’s elections. In Sharon, while First Selectman Robert Loucks has no opposition, the race for selectmen has three candidates running for two seats. We support Democrat Meg Szalewicz for re-election. During her tenure as selectman, she has shown that she works well across party lines and that she has the patience and tenacity to accomplish goals through hard work and cooperation. Republican John Perotti’s years in community banking should give him unique knowledge of the town, as well as the managerial experience to work well with others and foster an atmosphere of collegiality while doing so. We salute petitioning candidate Howard Randall for his dedication to Sharon, but will endorse Perotti, and believe that a board including Loucks, Szalewicz and Perotti will do well for their town.

There is also a contested selectmen’s race in Salisbury, with three men running for two seats. We endorse Democratic incumbent Jim Dresser unreservedly. He is capable, well-organized and a good manager. He has worked hard to help this town’s board accomplish much during his tenure, and deserves to be able to continue that work. The Salisbury Republican Town Committee chose not to endorse its sitting selectman, Robert Riva, and to throw its support instead to retired state trooper Mark Lauretano. While Lauretano brings many fine qualities to the table, and would serve well if elected, we will give our support to petitioning candidate Republican Robert Riva. Riva worked with the other selectmen to bring major projects to fruition in Salisbury, while still keeping the mill rate low. He did this without being adversarial, yet was not a rubber stamp member of the board, bringing his own ideas to the job. He, along with Dresser and First Selectman Curtis Rand, who is running unopposed, should be given the opportunity to continue the work they have begun.

North Canaan’s longtime First Selectman Doug Humes is running unopposed, but incumbent Selectmen Susan Clayton and Charles Perotti have been joined in the race by petitioner Nicole Blass. We endorse Democrat Clayton and Republican Perotti. Both have worked to improve life in North Canaan, including supporting rail service returning to their town and the region, working on the town’s website and other improvements in communication among town residents and elected officials.

In Cornwall, Kent and Falls Village, the selectmen’s races are uncontested.

Of those Northwest Corner towns that elect representatives to the Region One Board of Education, Salisbury, Sharon and North Canaan have contested races. Falls Village Region One representative Gale Toensing is running unopposed, and Kent and Cornwall do not elect, but rather appoint, their Region One representatives.

North Canaan’s incumbent Region One Board of Education representative Democrat Laura Freund has been a steady presence, with a good understanding of the FFA program at the high school and the connection her town has to that program. Republican Steven Allyn is dedicated to his town, and is to be commended for running. We endorse Freund. However, as she serves she needs to have greater direction from her town board as to any other goals they have for the high school and for her input on the Region One board. The representative should act on behalf of his or her town, and needs to know the town’s wishes before acting on them.

In Sharon, current Region One Chairman Judge Manning, a Republican, is being challenged by Democrat Marilyn Yerks. While Yerks has good experience as a former president of the Sharon Center School PTO, and financial knowledge gleaned through her work as an accountant, we will support the incumbent. Manning has shown an understanding of the complicated work of this board, and has the ability to organize and follow through with board work and projects. He has accommodated the demands of a fractious board and been patient in dealing with conflict. Because of the ongoing conflict, it will now be more important than ever that the work of the board be 100 percent transparent and open for public discussion. Manning, understanding that, should be given the chance to continue the work of this important board for another term.

Salisbury has Democrat Scooter Tedder facing off against petitioning unaffiliated candidate Michael Flint for the seat on the Region One Board of Education. Flint served on the Region One Principal and Assistant Principal Search Committees this past year, leading to the hiring of both for this 2011-12 school year. He is a hard worker and dedicated researcher. Tedder has indicated a strong commitment to representing the people of his town, and to furthering the education of the region’s students. Our endorsement goes to Tedder, but either of these candidates would serve his town well.

Indeed, all those running for office in their towns deserve thanks for their civic dedication and willingness to serve at a difficult time in the nation’s history, with recession still nipping at its heels and not enough job creation to pull up the economy. It’s a tough time for the country, for Connecticut, and for the towns of the Northwest Corner. Thank you and good luck to all those who win their elections. Rest assured that this newspaper will cover your tenure as comprehensively and with as much objectivity as humanly possible.

Do vote on Nov. 8.