A former Legislative Council chairman who helped direct Newtown’s last Charter Revision Commission and the individual who helped draft the original Charter in 1974 will lead the latest group of appointees charged with reviewing and revising the community’s constitutional document.
Jeff Capeci and Robert Hall were unanimously elected chair and vice chair, respectively, during a brief initial meeting of the new Charter panel July 1.
The nine-member commission will be rounded out with former councilman Dan Wiedemann, who also worked with the previous commission; former charter commissioners Eric Paradis and James Ritchie; former state lawmaker and Weston first selectman George Guidera; attorney Kevin Burns; former Economic Development commissioner and Edmond Town Hall trustee Tom Long; and Deborra Zukowski, who has served on several town land use and school board advisory panels.
Current Legislative Council Chair Mary Ann Jacob opened the meeting ahead of the commission’s action to elect their leadership calling first for a motion to elect a charter commission clerk. Council clerk Arleen Miles was quickly confirmed, and will concurrently serve the commission.
Calling for nominations for a chair, Mr Wiedemann nominated Mr Capeci. While no other nominations were tendered, Ms Zukowski asked that panel members have the opportunity to introduce themselves before a vote was taken.
But Ms Jacob pointed out that no other nominations were made, and there appeared to be unanimous support for Mr Capeci. Mr Wiedemann asserted that he nominated his former council colleague because of Mr Capeci’s experience with both the charter revision process, and leading the council through a number of challenging events, including 12/14 and several townwide budget processes.
Mr Capeci added that his goal in serving is to improve the charter, and promised to lead a thorough and nonpartisan review. He was then elected unanimously, as expected.
Mr Hall then pointed out the agenda needed to be amended to include the election of a vice chair. And the panel completed that brief action before Mr was nominated and elected to the post.
Ms Jacob then invited the commissioners to provide self introductions, and to reveal their motivations for participating in the charter review process. Each member in turn spoke a bit about his or her educational and professional backgrounds, but all were aligned over the concept of serving the community and wanting to make the charter a more accessible and readable document for Newtown citizens.
After introductions, Mr Capeci called to set a public hearing date, which would be followed by the commission’s next regular meeting. During subsequent meetings, which Mr Capeci said should span a nine- to 12-month timeframe, he would be calling various town officials and staffers who had made suggested charter changes to speak directly to the commission.
Once a draft revision is developed, a second public hearing will be conducted before the commission turns the document over to the council for final recommendations and action. The final council recommendations will be formulated into questions that will go before voters as part of the 2016 Presidential election ballot.
Ms Jacob said the commission should plan most of its meetings for the council chambers, so proceedings can be video taped for archival and public review purposes.
The commission decided to schedule the public hearing for Monday, July 28, at 7 pm, with a regular meeting to follow.