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Charter Revision Commission Elects Leadership, Sets Public Hearing



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A local attorney, former Board of Education member, and community volunteer has been elected to chair the latest Newtown Charter Revision Commission. Andy Buzzi humbly accepted the nomination of fellow charter review panelist and fellow attorney James Gaston, who was subsequently seated as the commission’s vice-chair.

In a response for comment to The Newtown Bee, Buzzi said, “It is an honor to lead the Charter Revision Commission and I look forward to working with my Vice Chairman James Gaston in presiding over a respectful, informative, and constructive process which gives every Newtown citizen an opportunity to be heard and a part of the review of our Charter.”

The two newest commission leaders will be serving alongside residents Prerna Rao (D), Elias Petersen (D), Anthony Filiato (R), Dennis Brestovansky (R), and Scott Davidow (U).

Besides Buzzi’s elected service to the school board, he has served on the Public Building & Site Commission, and as vice-chair for the Republican Town Committee (RTC). He was also an active supporter and volunteer with a local Cub Scout pack, and Newtown High School’s marching band.

Gaston is a former Borough of Newtown Warden and continues to serve as a Burgess. He was a previous chairman and vice-chair of the Board of Finance, and was also elected to the Board of Selectmen, besides providing support for numerous local causes.

Peterson recently moved to town and has two children in local schools. Rao, also an attorney, has a child entering the school system this fall, and has been elected to the Newtown Zoning Board of Appeals.

Filiato has volunteered as a local soccer coach, has similarly supported the high school marching band, and has been a practicing corporate attorney for more than three decades. He was elected to two terms on the Legislative Council, and brings experience from his service on a previous local Charter Revision Commission.

Davidow, another marching band supporter, also served on a local PTA. As an avid cyclist, he helped with an effort to install three-feet distance reminders on local roadways to promote safer cycling. Brestovansky currently chairs the RTC and has helped run the high school’s ice hockey booster club.

Public Hearing Set

Following a brief initial meeting March 24, during which leadership positions were filled, Buzzi announced that a public hearing on proposed revisions will be held Wednesday, April 14, at 7 pm. That hearing will be conducted virtually for maximum virus safety, and will be followed by the commission’s first regular meeting, also being held virtually.

Buzzi further said he is “pleased to be working with a fine group of individuals who represent a spectrum of perspectives and experiences working with and being a part of Newtown.

“We are looking forward to examining the charge laid out by the Legislative Council and to hear the thoughts and views of the members of our town at our first public hearing on April 14th, and every meeting thereafter during public participation,” he said.

Buzzi said he plans to organize small working groups that will form the backbone of the commission and serve as a basis for research and consideration of the comments received.

“Although we have not finalized our regular schedule, it appears that meetings will likely be held on the second and third Wednesdays of each month,” Buzzi added.

The commission is challenged to complete a review and revisions before local elections this November, and has been asked to consider more than two dozen separate charges, including whether to shift primary management of the community to a Town Manager, making the First Selectman more of a part-time ceremonial post; whether to eliminate the Board of Finance in favor of expanding the Legislative Council and installing an appointed committee whose members all have finance backgrounds; and creating language that would clarify the Board of Education’s status as an extension of the state Department of Education.

Look for ongoing Charter Revision Commission coverage in The Newtown Bee and at newtownbee.com as the commission begins its work in the coming weeks and months.

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