Candidate Interview: Joel Bruzinski

September 23, 2023

1) What inspired you to run for the position again? 

Two main factors helped in this decision.  The first was that people asked me if I was and stated that they hoped I would.  That sort of positive feedback is always great to hear from folks who believe that you are doing a good job and would like you to stay at it.  Secondly, I feel like you really spend the first two years of the job of Selectman getting the “lay-of-the-land” and learning everything you need to be a solid contributing member of the Board of Selectman.  Now that I have a little bit of experience, I look forward to being able to pull my weight with more proficiency in the role.  I feel that, with Don and Bob, we have a great board and welcome the opportunity to work with them again.  

2) What do you appreciate most about your partnership with Don?

Don and I have had a very direct understanding from day one that my opinion or vote on an issue need not be the same as his simply because we are members of the same political party and ticket and we have held to that.  I have enjoyed some debate with Don just as much as I have enjoyed being aligned with Bob Ostrosky on any given topic this board has addressed.  I feel that is what has made this such a strong board over the last two years.  We all work for what we truly feel is best for the town.  I respect the level of experience that Don and Bob bring while they have never minimized or dismissed any fresh perspective that I may have added.  I have known Don Lowe as a good friend for over two decades.  Working with Don however, has given me a new perspective on the earnestness and effort he is capable of pouring into his role as First Selectman.  Don cares deeply about Sherman.  It is difficult to convey the amount of time and thought he devotes to the job. His experience and knowledge in the role will continue to benefit Sherman moving forward.  

3) From Day 1 as Selectman to now, what has changed the most in the Town?

I think the biggest tangible change has been emerging from the pandemic.  It has been great to see Sherman “thaw” back into its previous wonderful self with events and programs happening in person again. A change that has not been positive is the amount of speeding on our streets.  Don, Bob and I have gone at this head-on with added enforcement and traffic calming measures.  We will continue to do so moving forward.

4) There were some tense meetings this past year; particularly during public comment, regarding such issues as: 5G, Happy Acres Farm, Veteran tax benefits, Air Bnb’s – to name a few.  If re-elected, how do you plan on addressing these issues/resident’s concerns?  

I feel this board has addressed all of these issues and well.  We are currently in process on the Veteran’s Tax Benefits and Air Bnb’s topics.  Happy Acres is discussed often by our board.  Typically for maintenance related needs.  I think David Jellen is doing an incredible job out there and the farm is a gem in our town. People passionate about a particular issue may feel things are not moving fast enough or in the direction that they want at all times. I can assure you that it has been my experience that all concerns raised by the public are addressed by this board in manner that is most prudent for the overall well being of the town.  Most of the topics that this board addresses turn out to be far more nuanced than they appear to be initially with potential negative impact brought on by hasty, or inexperienced decisions.  Don and Bob are an absolute asset to the town in this respect with just shy of 22 years combined experience on the Board of Selectman between them.  I look forward to working with them again in the next two years.

5) Do you have any new Town projects coming down the pike that you are particularly excited about?

The renovation of the school is, of course, the most major project Sherman will face.  As the representative of the BOS on the Sherman School Building Committee I want to assure the public that the level of professional expertise and dedication that the other members of this committee have brought to the table are incredible.  These folks, some of whom are sceptics-turned-advocates after seeing the state of the building, have poured endless hours into coming up with the least expensive and most well-engineered plan possible.  No one, of course, is thrilled about the associated cost of this renovation, however, further delay will only make that cost far worse.  The tax impact associated with the project, an average total increase of 14 percent, is going to be felt for sure and I am certainly mindful that for some households this will be difficult.  We do need to keep in mind however the fact that this Board of Selectman and several previous versions under Don Lowe and Bob Ostrosky, have reduced our taxes while building our surplus and allowing tax payers to keep as much of their money in their own pockets, where it belongs, until a time when it is really needed.  I can say that I am excited about the prospect of bringing our school facility up to the level that our students and teachers deserve.  Sherman is better than those same kids and staff having to wonder if they will have heat or potable water in our school on any given day.  I hope the voters also see us a community that can and should do better than that and vote “yes” in the upcoming referendum.
6) What are some areas of Town that you’d like to see improved upon in the coming years?  

A few things – I am looking forward to moving our BOS meeting into a “hybrid” format through the addition of an Owl conference camera system this BOS has purchased.  This, hopefully, will allow greater attendance of our meetings by the public.  Also, I would really like to see more of our citizens get off of the sidelines and participate in our town in some way.  Since my wife and I moved to town 25 years ago there has not been a time when one, or both of us was not serving on one or multiple town boards, committees or organizations.  I don’t say this as a boast but rather as an example that it is possible.  It is possible for two working people, with full-time jobs to serve your community while renovating a house, tending a yard, raising a family and dealing with everything else life throws at you. Volunteers are the life-blood of small communities and we need as many good folks, with all of their varied talents and perspectives, to step-up and get involved.

7) Anything else you’d like to add? 

I really want to thank all of the candidates who are running for an office in this election.  It takes a certain amount of bravery to put yourself out there in such a public way.  I also want to specifically thank Liz LaVia and Ruth Burns for their kind patience over the last two years in bringing me up to speed and answering all of my questions thoroughly and