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BOF's Gaston, Portnoy Won't Seek Reelection In November



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BOF’s Gaston, Portnoy Won’t Seek Reelection In November

By John Voket

The calendar page has barely turned to June, but political activity is already simmering with an eye toward early November when Newtowners will go to the polls and elect or reelect a slate of officials who will run the town for the following two years.

Perhaps the most interesting contests will occur at the top of the ticket, where lead bodies like the Boards of Finance, Education, and Selectmen will likely see new faces in the mix as voters size up their candidates of choice.

This week, The Bee learned that finance board Vice Chairman James Gaston and colleague Michael Portnoy will not seek reelection. Mr Gaston, a Democrat who also serves as the Borough of Newtown’s Warden, said he has been serving on the board since it was reinstituted by a charter revision a decade ago.

“I think ten years is a long time to be on the Board of Finance,” Mr Gaston said. “But Newtown is more than fortunate to have others who can bring a great deal of financial expertise to the board.”

Mr Gaston said he would not rule out representing his party in another capacity besides as the borough’s top elected official, and that he had been approached to consider that option by the Democratic Town Committee. But he was still mulling over the options as he spoke with the newspaper June 1.

Mr Portnoy said his departure was more a matter of necessity because of changes ongoing at his business.

“I am going to need to devote substantially more energies to work as my business goes through some changes,” he said. Mr Portnoy’s financial services company is engaged in managing investment products.

As the second of four original finance board members who has served for ten years, Mr Portnoy said that he would not rule out returning to elected or some other government service post in some capacity in the future.

Town Clerk Debbie Aurelia noted this week that the Board of Education will have four positions up for reelection this November. The terms of Democrat Lillian Bittman and Independent David Nanavaty are up, and the election will also fill the seats currently occupied by two board members who are filling vacancies that occurred since 2007.

The seats currently filled by Republicans Andrew Buzzi and Keith Alexander will both be up for grabs. Mr Alexander joined the board upon the resignation of Christopher Lagana, and Mr Buzzi’s interim position replaced Kathryn Fetchick, who left the school board and was subsequently appointed to fill a vacant Legislative Council seat.

She now chairs the council’s Education Committee.

All three posts on Board of Selectmen will be up for election, but neither the incumbents nor any challengers have yet announced intentions to vie for those seats.

The Newtown Democratic Town Committee is currently soliciting candidates for the November election, according to DTC Candidates Committee Chair Herb Rosenthal. The Democrats hope to fill candidate positions on the council, Boards of Education and Finance, and the Police Commission.

Interested registered voters should contact either Democratic Town Chair Jim Juliano at 203-426-0065, DTC Secretary Jan Brookes at 203-426-9889, or Mr Rosenthal at 203-426-0660.

The local GOP leadership published an open letter of solicitation for anyone interested in serving the community. Republican Town Committee Chairman Dennis Bloom, Vice Chairman Mitch Bolinsky, and Secretary Carey Schierloh co-signed a letter in The Bee May 27 inviting interested residents “to be part of the action!”

“There are many ways you can make a difference in local affairs and add a fresh, positive perspective to how we see and address local issues,” the letter states. “No political experience? No problem! Among RTC ranks, we have the experience, the people, and resources to help you learn the process, from the inside and out.”

Those interested in talking with the RTC can contact Mr Bloom at 203-270-7703 or via e-mail at dbloom1205@aol.com; Mitch Bolinsky at 203-364-0287 or mbolinsky@earthlink.net; or Carey Schierloh at 203-270-1742 or cschierloh@gmail.com.

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