Category Archives: Published Article

Published Article written by an SDTC endorsed candidate

A Great BOS Team: Promises, Successes

By First Selectman Don Lowe in Town Tribune, September 28, 2023

(editor note: The title was added by the SDTC webmaster, not by Don)

Friends and Neighbors,

I have had the privilege of serving as your First Selectman since 2018. I’m asking for your vote to serve Sherman for two more years.

PROMISES: When I ran in 2017 and you elected me, all I had to offer were promises. I promised to keep Sherman financially strong, promised to budget prudently, to manage Sherman responsively and effectively, and to be actively engaged on issues concerning our seniors, our Sherman School, emergency services, public works, Flappy Acres Farm, Candlewood Lake, and other Sherman matters. And, as I will point out later in the column, all of those promises have been met and Sherman has thrived in the last six years.

SUCCESS: But I didn’t do this alone. This success has taken an entire team of good people working together. The only thing 1 can truly take credit for is my ability to get people to work together. I’m pretty good at that. When I started in 2018, I made a conscious decision to not be concerned about politics, to work in a non-partisan way that incorporates the skills of many amazing people. And it starts with my Board of Selectmen (BOS). I can’t say enough good things about both of the selectmen, Joel Bruzinski and Bob Ostrosky.

A GREAT SELECTMAN: Joel Bruzinski has been on the board for two years now and has made a tremendous difference with his good judgment and his conscientious work ethic. (Previous to this, Kevin Keenan was the democrat selectman and he served the town exceedingly well too!) Joel brings a hands-on business acumen and is an old-school conservative when it comes to spending tax-‘ payers’ money. He graciously stepped up as a committed member of the Sherman School Building Committee and has served as the BOS’s liaison for that critical project. He works cheerfully and honestly for Sherman, has a strong sense of planning and Sherman’s future, and I’m proud to call him a fellow board member.

ANOTHER GREAT SELECTMAN: Bob Ostrosky, on the Republican ticket, has served on the BOS for 10 years and is, in my opinion, an unsung hero for his repeated good judgment and for the care that he puts into his decisions. Bob brings corporate management skills to the table and keeps the BOS on track both procedurally and progressively. Like Joel, he has a vision for Sherman’s future and he bases many of his decisions on where Sherman will be in the near and the far future. Bob is exceptionally strong at creating budgets and finding the most economically sound ways to use taxpayers’ money to keep Sherman running well.

RESULTS: This is not some “rubber stamp” Board of Selectmen where all three plod along in sleepy lockstep with each other. Quite the opposite. We disagree but without the political backstabbing, we disagree to find the best solutions, and we disagree politely and constructively.. Consequently, this BOS has leveraged some favorable financial circumstances to save Sherman taxpayers money by budgeting tax decreases five years in a row. We also nearly doubled the Sherman surplus/rainy day fund, and overall, as taxes dropped services increased. As a board, we completely revived and repaired Happy Acres farm and we have shepherded successful capital projects on every single Sherman-owned entity. It’s been a good six years for Sherman. For Sherman’s well-being, I hope all three of us are back working together for two more years.

THE SHERMAN SCHOOL: Saturday, October 7 will be the referendum to fund a plan to renovate the Sherman School in order to fix the building’s severe infrastructure issues and to right-size the building for current and projected K-to-8 enrollment. If that referendum passes, it will be full speed ahead to make that building whole again. If the referendum fails, it will still be full speed ahead to make that building right again. As long as I’m the First Selectman, we will find a way. Sherman is greatly marginalized when its school building – its most expensive asset – is marginalized. An even worse scenario would be regionalization in which we send our young students to other schools. That’s unacceptable. Property values are dependent on a strong school and the Sherman School is a key part of our Town culture. I’m proud to have put three children through the Sherman School and am pleased that others, in years past, voted to fund the school for them. Now it’s time to fund the school to make it whole for new generations for years to come.

COMING UP: In my next campaign column, I will write about what is expected of a First Selectman to serve Sherman correctly. I will mention others who have furthered the collective improvement of Sherman over these last six years. I will outline, specifically, a list of successful capital projects completed over these last six years

Danbury’s superintendent makes $20 per student. Sherman’s makes $887 per student. Here’s why

June 12, 2021 Updated: June 12, 2021 9:58 p.m.
Written by
Photo of Julia Perkins

Experience, performance and their community’s affluence are among the factors local school boards consider as they set their superintendents’ salaries.

Superintendent average compensation in Fairfield County is higher than in other parts of the state, a Hearst Connecticut Media analysis found. The highest salaries are in southwestern Connecticut.

“But we also have to realize that property is much more expensive in that end of the state, so it costs more for living expenses, etc,” said Fran Rabinowitz, executive director of the Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents.

“It is also a municipality’s ability to pay, which goes into property taxes and all of that,” she added. “It really is dependent on the wealth of the community.”

School board chairs and other officials said they thought the superintendent salaries in their communities were fair.

“It’s fairly compensated,” said Peggy Katkocin, New Fairfield’s school board chair. “I know we walk a delicate line because it’s taxpayer money.”

Superintendents sometimes get various perks. For example, in Bethel, Superintendent Christine Carver received a $10,000 stipend upon the completion of the renovations to Rockwell and Johnson elementary schools.

Rabinowitz said she’s seen that in other districts.

“A superintendent spends an incredible amount of time outside of the normal duties of a superintendent working on a renovation project,” she said.

To become a superintendent, educators must complete a certification program approved by the Connecticut Board of Education. A doctorate degree is not required, but many districts pay more if the superintendent has a Ph.D.

“There is high demand for top quality superintendents, so the wages clearly reflect that,” Redding First Selectwoman Julia Pemberton said. “For a school district like Redding, we want in a superintendent one of the best educators in the state and even the nation.”

Superintendents in Danbury, Brookfield, Bethel, Ridgefield, New Fairfield, Newtown, Sherman, and Easton, Redding and Region 9 have doctorate degrees.

“You need to get really qualified people who are not only good educators, but good administrators and incredibly good communicators to do these jobs,” Brookfield First Selectman Steve Dunn said.

Pay per student

The pay per student varies greatly in the Danbury area, with Sherman’s Superintendent-Principal Jeff Melendez earning about $887 per student, compared to the around $20 per student that Danbury Superintendent Sal Pascarella gets.

More Information

Superintendent pay per student

Sherman: $887.42

Region 12: $298.59

New Fairfield: $107.94

Brookfield: $93.73

Region 9: $90.04

Bethel: $75.26

Region 15: $67.03

Ridgefield: $57.95

Newtown: $54.45

New Milford: $52.08*

Danbury: $20.10

Per a Hearst Connecticut Media analysis of 153 superintendent contracts in the state

*This figure reflects the superintendent’s salary when she was the interim leader

Danbury area superintendent salaries

Ridgefield Susie Da Silva: $264,000 (No. 11 in the state)

Brookfield John Barile: $240,240 (No. 21 in the state)

Danbury Sal Pasarella: $237,874 (No. 23 in state)

Region 15 Josh Smith: $235,487 (No. 27 in state)

Bethel Christine Carver: $232,492 (No. 29 in state)

New Fairfield Pat Cosentino: $230,125 (No. 31 in state)

Easton, Redding, Region 9 Rydell Harrison: $225,000 (No. 34 in state)

Sherman Jeffrey Melendez: $223,631 (No. 35 in state)

Newtown Lorrie Rodrigue: $220,692 (No. 39 in state)

Region 12 Megan Bennett: $205,428 (No. 55 in the state)

New Milford Alisha DiCorpo: $194,400* (No. 85 in the state)

Per a Hearst Connecticut Media analysis of 153 superintendent contracts in the state

*This figure reflects the superintendent’s salary when she was the interim leader

The salary for Danbury’s superintendent appears “quite low given the number of students that there are and the number of challenges,” Rabinowitz said.

Superintendents still have many of the same responsibilities, regardless of district size, Rabinowitz said. Most superintendents work at least 60 hours a week, she said.

“The work is the work,” said Christine Carver, superintendent in Bethel who makes about $232,000 and runs a district of around 3,000 students. “It doesn’t matter if you have 18,000 students or 3,100 students.”

But she noted urban districts have a “tremendous amount of increased needs.”

Dunn said he was initially surprised superintendents in bigger districts like Bridgeport or Hartford didn’t earn two to three times Brookfield’s superintendent. John Barile earns about $240,000, which is almost $94 per student.

But Dunn said he realized smaller towns “have the capability to attract really qualified people.”

“To do that, you’ve got to pay more money,” he said.

He said Barile’s salary is fair.

“I don’t think we should be paying ours less,” Dunn said. “I think Hartford should be paying more.”

Barile has done a “superb” job in Brookfield and recently signed another three-year contract, Dunn said.

“I don’t see these as out of place,” Dunn said. “These salaries are what they should be.”

Superintendent Pat Cosentino earns about $230,000 to run the about 2,000-student New Fairfield school system, while Rydell Harrison gets $225,000 from the 2,500-student district of Easton, Redding and Region 9.

Newtown’s Lorrie Rodrigue makes less than $221,000 in the around 4,000-student district.

Megan Bennett earns about $205,000 running the 688-student Region 12, which serves Bridgewater, Roxbury and Washington. She said she has a smaller office staff than larger districts.

“You’re doing more roles in a smaller district,” she said.

Alisha DiCorpo, who became New Milford’s superintendent in February, earned about $194,000 running the about 3,700-student district when she was interim superintendent. A contract signed in March put her salary at $202,000, with an additional $2,000 annuity.

“You really cant compare one superintendency to another,” said Greg Cava, chair of the Region 12 school board. “No. 1, they are different levels of experience. No 2, they are different levels of taxation expectations. No. 3, they have different jobs. Superintendents in Connecticut do different things from town to town.”

School budgets in Region 12 have stayed fairly consistent over the years, Cava said.

“I don’t think anyone is saying we can’t pay the superintendent X dollars because the taxpayers won’t stand for it,” he said.

Factors in pay

New Fairfield looks at the superintendent’s ability to lead and engage with the community, as well as how she has met her goals and how students rank academically against other schools in the state, among other factors in setting the salary, Katkocin said.

“Unfortunately, I think sometime people think you should only evaluate superintendents on whether they make everyone happy,” she said. “That’s impossible for any leader anywhere.”

In Newtown, the board considers the superintendent’s performance and local and general economic factors, said Michelle Ku, school board chair.

“It’s also what the community supported in terms of a budget increase when they came out and voted,” she said.

Typically, the Newtown school board does not have information about what other districts pay, she said.

When Region 12 hires a new superintendent, the school board examines the candidate’s experience, market factors and what the board is trying to accomplish, Cava said. Raises for existing superintendents are based on how he or she fulfilled previously set goals.

“This is not something where you sit down and check off a box and do an evaluation,” he said. “It’s a little bit more subjective than that.”

Student achievement may be one of those goals in districts, but it doesn’t play a large role in the superintendent’s compensation, he said.

“I don’t think people pay a superintendent because they achieve a certain level of testing, unless there were some huge deficiency you were trying to correct,” Cava said. “That’s not a factor here.”

District size and the superintendent’s background is considered in New Fairfield, too, Katkocin said.

“You certainly wouldn’t pay a brand new superintendent what you would with a superintendent with more experience,” she said.

The way superintendents managed the coronavirus pandemic is likely to be another factor, Katkocin said.

“I’m sure every Board of Education is looking at how their superintendents functioned in this very difficult year,” she said.

Attracting strong candidates to tough job

The average tenure of a superintendent in Connecticut is four years, Rabinowitz has said.

That’s not good because the “quality of education suffers” when there is superintendent turnover, said First Selectwoman Julia Pemberton, a former member of the Region 9 school board.

“I’m not concerned about super salaries per se,” she said. “What I am concerned about is that our superintendents are being put in positions that lead to them leaving their jobs and going elsewhere. I think we see that around Fairfield County, it is like musical chairs.”

Social media has made superintendents’ jobs harder, and parents expect to have constant access to the superintendent, Pemberton said.

“You’re doing the job of public relations and you’re also the educator in chief of the community,” she said. “Those barriers have fallen. That’s a good thing, but I think our superintendents in many districts become overworked.”

Superintendents are responsible for everything in their district and are always on call, officials said.

“Any time there is an incident in their school, any time a fire alarm goes off, everything falls on the superintendent’s desk,” Katkocin said. “They need to answer to everything.”

Superintendents have advanced degrees, are experts in their fields and manage a “complex system,” Carver said.

“There are some people who still think I don’t work during the summer,” she said. “When I tell you it’s 24-hour, seven-day-a-week job, you can just talk to my husband. I rarely take a vacation where I don’t have to be constantly responding to things.”

Julia Perkins has been a reporter with The News-Times since June 2016 and covers the towns of Bethel and Brookfield. She also has covered breaking news for Hearst Connecticut on weekend mornings. Graduating from Quinnipiac University in 2016, she served as the editor-in-chief of The Quinnipiac Chronicle, the weekly, student-run newspaper. She is a huge “Harry Potter” fan.

Don Lowe (D): Volunteerism, Openess, Stopping the Waste of Taxes

From Town Tribune, Nov 2, 2017. The best part of the 2017 campaign has been the opportunity to visit with so many Sherman residents and  business owners, and to hear your concerns. These concerns encompass a broad spectrum and they speak to the challenge of being First Selectman and to the type of leader we need here in Sherman: a sincere person who listens and responds to people’s concerns.

As I spoke with Shermanites of all ages and backgrounds, one common thread kept coming up: people expressed that, if I’m elected, they’d like to volunteer to serve Sherman in some capacity. Music to my ears! I believe Sherman is better served by shifting away from oligarchy and, instead, allowing a wider range of people to be involved. One of my immediate goals as your First Selectman is to fill the vacancies that currently exist on our boards and commissions. Your political party won’t matter to me; I just want you to belong to the “I like my town” party. I will also push hard for volunteers to our invaluable Sherman Volunteer Fire Department as well as other important Sherman organizations.

Speaking of amazing organizations: I am so impressed by FISH, a group of dedicated volunteers who have been providing rides to Sherman seniors for 46 years. At the Annual Luncheon last week, Barbara Hoag delivered some remarkable statistics. In the most recent FISH fiscal year, volunteer drivers made 173 trips for 23 different residents, most of which (121) were for doctor appointments but also covered other important needs too 5,898.5 miles of driving! Through 46 years, FISH volunteer drivers have made 6,211 pickups and amassed 204,857 miles. That’s almost four fifths of the way- to the moon! This spirit of neighbors helping neighbors makes Sherman a mighty special place. I am deeply honored to have been a Selectman for six years in such a wonderful town.

Thank you to those who attended the candidate debates that the Town Tribune did such a fine job of hosting. They went very well and I enjoyed getting the opportunity to get my points of view across. One of the debate highlights for me was hearing my running-mate Kevin Keenen speak. Kevin spoke openly and responded to audience questions with a modest honesty that I found refreshing. He has no political ax to grind and calls them like he sees them. I have been fortunate to learn so much from Kevin as he and I discuss issues concerning Sherman. His expertise on infrastructure and building alone makes him a valuable person, especially now, for Sherman. I truly appreciate him stepping up.

Please vote for Kevin!

If I am your First Selectman you can expect to have your tax dollars valued and not wasted or over-spent. You can expect a fair tone of government and when you attend meetings and want to express something that you feel is important you will be treated with respect. When people came to me, for example, about concerns over Sherman’s air quality from the Cricket Valley power plant, I took them seriously. One thing I would like to start doing now is to monitor our air quality so that when the plant opens for business, we have a baseline for an air quality comparison pre-Cricket Valley vs. post-Cricket Valley. (By the. way, I didn’t think of that myself. A smart and concerned Sherman resident offered me that idea as we were discussing Sherman’s future with a power plant just miles off our border.)

As your First Selectman, you can expect me to fight for fairness and the protection of our Candlewood Lake Authority so it can continue to protect our lake. You can expect me to work successfully, cheerfully, and in synergy with our public works department, our boards and commissions, and our town staff to enable Sherman to fully realize its potential. You can expect me to take great interest in our senior population and in assuring that the terrific people who already help our seniors are respected and served by my office. As a First Selectman, you will see me at BOE meetings ready in any way to help our Sherman School. That extends to our high school students and also students seeking higher education as I have already demonstrated through my 16 years with the Sherman Higher Education Fund Board. You can expect me to help our business community thrive. (I loved John Jenner’s presentation, by the way, about a Roger Sherman Trail, which only offers upside for our businesses.) And Sherman folks? If you come into Town Hall, my door will be open and I will look forward to listening to you, to helping you, and bringing an inclusive approach back to the First Selectman’s office. I humbly ask for your vote on November 7th.

Kevin Keenan (D): Overview of local government

From Town Tribune, Oct 26, 2017. Local politics is the purest form of governance. It is approachable and readily available. You can walk in your Town Hall (for Sherman that is Mallory Town Hall) and see the functioning of government. The people who collect our taxes, maintain our records, and enforce our local laws and ordinances are there to serve you. You drive the local roads in all kinds of weather and directly see and feel how they are being maintained. If a tree falls or there is a dangerous wintertime road hazard you can call the Town Hall or the Public Works Director to report the problem. The commissions that monitor and regulate the Town assets, all elected or appointed volunteers, convene monthly to work for the Town. Workshops and public hearings are also available to enable people to be involved. To those seniors that take advantage of the programs offered by the Senior Center, you see and experience what local government is about. Providing fields and facilities for the soccer and baseball teams is one more function of local government.

All of this happens through a Board of Selectman that convenes monthly to discuss, among other things, financial health and items that may have a direct impact to the proper functioning of our local government. They propose programs, recommend actions, and disseminate information pertinent to the health and well being of our community. The First Selectman is the point person, the chief executive officer, who is in Town Hall on a daily basis to act as the lead person to know and understand what is needed for the proper functioning of our local government. We should all be able to walk into Town Hall and speak to our chief executive to make suggestions or discuss problems.

Fully aware of all the functions of our local government, I am running for the position of Selectman along with Don Lowe, who is running for First Selectman. I know that Don will embrace the great responsibilities of being a First Selectman. In his six years as a Selectman, Don has consistently displayed his respect for volunteers, elected officials, and residents of this town. His commitment to working on behalf of Sherman is not based on partisan issues or outside agendas. The Board of Selectmen should operate as a cohesive team because we are not Hartford, we are not Washington: we are Sherman. We are local government, and Don and I will be working for you.

Don Lowe (D): I’ve Been Instrumental in the Town Low Budgets

Town Tribune article, Oct 19, 2017. I was interested to see that Bob Ostrosky started his column last week by complaining about “negativity” in this campaign. His column appeared two days after the Sherman Republican Town Committee posted a pretty ugly attack toward me on their Facebook page on behalf of the Cope-Ostrosky campaign. Of course, I’m biased about what constitutes an ugly attack on myself, but in this case I was not alone. The RTC spent all day deleting the onslaught of negative feedback on their own page, much of it from members of their own political party.

In reality, there is always some jockeying back and forth as each candidate tries to position him or herself as better than the opponent. That’s healthy. I mean, why would you vote for someone who doesn’t believe he or she is better than the opponent? I certainly believe that I am better suited for the job of First Selectman than my opponent. However, a candidate attempting to show proficiency on the issues is one thing; personal attacksare another.

We live in a small town where we run into each other at the IGA, stand next to each other at our kids’ soccer games, and find ourselves at the same social events. Part of what makes Sherman special is our citizens’ inclination to step up and work for the betterment of Sherman. And they always deserve respect for that – even when we disagree. All sides can argue vehemently about issues and find ways to respectfully work things out. This is the Sherman I believe in.

Now, on to important town issues: As a six-year selectman, I have the experience to keep your taxes low. I have been a part of six responsible and low Town budgets. Clay and Bob have only been part of two low Town budgets – the two years with me on the board. Their first four together were excessive Town budgets. But let’s get something straight: Putting together the Town budget (and the School budget) takes teamwork. We are fortunate to have a strong support staff in the First Selectman’s office laying out budget parameters and we are fortunate to have Eric Holub as our Treasurer for advice. Our savings, for example, on our debt (the town debt’s interest rate was lowered through refinance) was almost entirely his doing. The only thing the Board of Selectman did was vote a unanimous “yes.” I have no reason to believe Mr. Holub will stop helping Sherman just because I am the First Selectman.

As your First Selectman I will strive not only to keep your taxes low, but will work hard toward building efficiencies and synergy between town agencies to save money and increase productivity. This is missing right now and fixing this is a strength of mine. I would never ignore, for example, the diligent work of our Park and Rec Commission. Instead, I will partner with them to better fulfill their objectives and the needs of town. If you vote for Kevin Keenan, an expert at efficient facilities and infrastructure management, you will make your town even stronger in this regard.

This Saturday, October 21, at 10 am. is our Annual Town Meeting held at Charter Hall (the ESF Building). There will be three items in addition to the first item, which is to receive and act upon the Annual Report. The Board of Selectman will be asking the voters to authorize a transfer of $750,000 from the general fund to the capital non-recurring fund. We will also be asking the voters for authorization to enter into a lease agreement with T-Mobile at Happy Acres farm. We will also be asking for $35k to repair the Fox Run detention basin. I hope to see you there.

Kevin Keenan (D): Efficient Budgeting and Stewardship of Infrastructure

Town Tribune Article,  October 12, 2017. In our campaign for Selectman and First Selectman of Sherman, Don Lowe and I have adopted an approach that states we will pursue, among other things: (1) Better and more efficient budgeting, and (2) Proper stewardship of facilities and infrastructure. Achievement of these goals is more of a necessity now than ever before because of Hartford’s inability to pass a state budget. Imagine a budget without state funding – The Town of Sherman will be on its own.

In Sherman the Board of Selectman acts as the Board of Finance. So in addition to the general budget requirements (e.g. salaries, insurance, debt service) the heads of certain departments and the Board of Education present their budget requests to the Board of Selectman. The BOS reviews, alters and eventually recommends the budget for a Town meeting. The citizens and taxpayers of Sherman ultimately approve the budget based on the review of our Board of Selectman. The First Selectman, as the chief executive officer, must be aware of what is needed for the town to operate efficiently, achieving this through regular communication with the people who make Sherman run.

With that said, consider that the Board of Education returned (i.e. surplus) close to $400,000 from the 2016 -2017 budget year. The previous year, 2015-2016, close to $300,000 was returned to the town. This surplus money goes into the town’s general fund, which can then be diverted into other accounts, usually upon recommendation of the Town Treasurer. The money can be used for capital non-recurring expenses. Incidentally this is a reason for the upcoming October 21 Town meeting. It is nice to have this money on hand considering the state budget situation, but is it efficient? Transparent?

The second part of our platform (proper stewardship of facilities and infrastructure) is intimately involved with the first part (better and more efficient governing) because as we all know smart management of facilities protects us-the taxpayers-from careless overspending. Two small capital projects have been completed in the town in the last six years. But have they been pursued efficiently? In my business when I am asked to bid on a project I make my best effort to estimate the cost of labor and material to produce a price, attain the job, and make a profit. That is the nature of business.

Why not run the Town of Sherman as a business? Well there are things in the public sector that do not apply to the private sector, like open bidding. Generally any project or service rendered to the Town must be advertised so everyone has an opportunity to provide a price. Is it efficient? No not necessarily. It takes time, you do not know who is bidding or their quality of work. It is better to go with a vendor you have used before because you know what to expect. The upside to open bidding is you can get a better sense of what the job is worth. or an answer to the question “Am I about to spend taxpayers dollars the best way possible?”

Another reason for the October 21 town meeting is a request from the Board of Selectman to appropriate $32,000 from the capital non-recurring fund for the Fox Run detention basin. This situation dates back to the previous administration and involves upgrading/renovating a detention basin on a town-owned road that is presumably silting in a Candlewood Lake cove. Perhaps some additional research should have done for the Town’s benefit but that is “water under the bridge.” What you can take issue with is that since this “problem” came up. three engineers have reviewed the plan-most recently our newly hired engineer. The grant from the State of Connecticut to renovate the basin was $60,000. The recently received low bid to do the work was $67,000. The town is being asked to spend an additional $32,000, of which $25,000 amounts to unbudgeted engineering costs. Is that efficient?

I have a construction and planning background both of which will serve the Town; Don Lowe has the leadership capabilities. The Town of Sherman has employees and a plethora of citizens who are capable of initiating and monitoring a project. Together, we can produce the efficiencies that will make Sherman an even better place to live.

Don Lowe (D): 2 Capital Projects with Problems

Town Tribune Article,  October 5, 2017. As I write this, our nation is once again confronted with a senseless mass killing in Las Vegas, this time the largest one in our history. In the coming days, many issues will come into play as the shooting’s facts are revealed. We will again seek answers for the motives behind this horrifically violent event, but time and again they remain beyond comprehension. Here in Sherman, we must remember that the smallest acts of kindness, the consideration and generosity of our neighbors, can make all the difference in the quality of life in our community. I am proud to see how good we are to each other, delivering meals to families who are grieving, driving those who can’t drive themselves, finding ways every day to reach out and lend a hand to those in need. In an election year, it is no small thing to be reminded that while we may disagree on certain issues, we are all in this together, and we are very lucky to live here in Sherman.

In the spirit of those who help others, Sherman is blessed to have an outstanding Volunteer Fire Department (SVFD). These super dedicated men and women are first on the scene for residents’ emergencies and that’s reassuring. Having dedicated emergency service volunteers is not only a positive for our safety and well being, but it’s a tremendous cost savings for the town. I had the privilege last week to witness a car fire drill and have it explained to me by Chris Fuchs. a firefighting professional who devotes time and good energy to the SVFD. My goal is to learn all I can about the SVFD in order to better serve them whether I win the race for First Selectman or not. We can all support the SVFD through donations and also by filling out an application to join the organization. If you join. you’ll meet some of the nicest people in Sherman.

For the coming weeks you will hear the phrase “pay as you go” by my fellow Board of Selectmen members. Clay and Bob tout this frequently. It’s in reference to managing the funding of town capital projects. Both Clay and Bob are fine fellows and can be excused for ginning up an issue or two during election season. In reality, however, this is a false claim. There has been nothing in Clay’s six years that the town wouldn’t have paid as we go. In six years, we have had only two primary capital projects and not very lofty ones at that. One is the wash station up at public works. The BOS had to go to the taxpayers, hat in hand, and ask for an extra $100,000 to complete that one. ( I voted “no” on the extra money hoping we could discipline ourselves to build it with the original state grant.) The other capital project was refurbishing the tennis courts. Even as a Selectman I still don’t know how much we paid for that. No transparency. We did pay nearly $27,000 for 312 hours of engineering to complete the project, which was advertised to the public as “pre-engineered.”

The solution to the mix-up with both projects is to communicate clearly with all parties before the project begins, follow through, and then be transparent with the process at every stage so that taxpayers can understand where their money was spent. I will do that. Of course, we’re lucky: These aren’t huge capital projects. But we might have one in our future depending on what voters decide to do about the K-Wing portion of our Sherman School. This is why I am delighted to have Kevin Keenan as my running-mate. As a professional builder with infrastructure expertise across the board, Kevin will be the most talented Sherman Selectman on capital projects since Mr. Ken Grant. Together, Kevin and I are prepared to successfully manage whatever projects come Sherman’s way.

At the last BOS meeting, I made my proposal for an ad hoc Reliable Cell Service Committee. Clay and Bob needed more time to think it over before voting on whether to approve so it’s in limbo. The committee will be comprised of the diligent Sherman folks who have researched this issue and made recommendations to our present First Selectman. The purpose of the committee, which I will serve on, is to make sure that the good work of the reliable cell service people is followed up on and acted upon. If you elect me as your First Selectman, “Following up and acting upon” will be the hallmark of my term in office and a big improvement to the town. I have no other higher political aspirations: the office of First Selectman will be my job, not a stepping stone to higher political office.

Kevin Keenan (D): Why I am a candidate

Town Tribune Article, September 28, 2017.  When I announced to family and friends my intent to run for Selectman this year, the most common response was a question: “Why?” I admit that this is what I had to answer for myself before I made the decision to declare my candidacy. When l was first approached by our current Selectman, Don Lowe, I immediately thought about the time I spent on the Board of Education, where I served from 2000-2010, and those monthly (plus) meetings.

In the case of both the Board of Education and Selectman positions, someone asked me to serve. When I stand at the Sherman Tax Collector’s counter and hand over my check for property taxes I always mention, “I feel like such a citizen…” For the majority of people, that is the extent of community participation. But having served on the BOE I know what is involved with participating in the important decision-making that will impact the Town of Sherman.

My time on the Board of Education reflects the level of commitment these volunteer positions require. In the beginning, monthly meetings led to spending extra time getting acquainted with the issues, attending the school functions, and developing an annual budget. Then there were the monthly subcommittee meetings: I served on both the maintenance and policy committees.

Policy was interesting because the Board’s policies basically dictate what happens in the school and serve as a guide for the Board’s actions. These policies also, to an extent, had to be in sync with the State of Connecticut mandates. So at times the discussions regarding the policy were functional and philosophical with respect to crafting a policy that satisfied the State mandate, but more importantly its application to Sherman. During my tenure on the BOE the policies were in need of updating, so this was an important assignment.

Maintenance is something near and dear to my heart because of my business as a general contractor and builder. Properly functioning buildings and the environments within them are essential to the health and well being of everyone inside. In addition, the costs of non-functioning buildings can be a detriment to everyone “outside” – namely the taxpayers who would be required to fund solutions. In years of tight budgets there were always lively discussions about the merits of improving curriculum versus replacing a roof.

I recognize now that my time on both of these subcommittees developed the knowledge and skills that will serve me well as a Selectman. Indeed, with the current Connecticut budget dilemma and the uncertainty of State funding, Sherman will be making some tough choices that will require a more efficient decision-making process. As a town, we have to be prepared to help ourselves, and to use our financial resources in the most expeditious manner.

I built a house in Sherman 28 years ago, raised three children who were educated in the Sherman School, pay my taxes, and continue to enjoy the amenities that Sherman and the surrounding area offer with my wife Christine and Lieutenant (Lieu) , the border collie. I have the range of experience and the commitment to Sherman that can make this town we all love even better: And that’s why I have decided to run for Selectman.

Don Lowe (D) Candidate for First Selectman

Town Tribune Article, September 21, 2017.

I am deeply honored to be a candidate for First Selectman. I wouldn’t take this on if I didn’t think I could improve Sherman and give maximum commitment toward keeping your tax bill low and your safety and well-being bolstered. I will work for you. If elected, the job of First Selectman will be my only professional obligation. Over the next seven weeks I hope to convince you that my ability to lead and work effectively with others, along with my grit and experience, will offer you the best choice for Sherman’s next First Selectman.

Here’s what you can expect with me as your First Selectman:

Your town budgets will be as lean as possible. It’s no accident that your Town budget since I have been a Selectman these last two years have been so reasonable. Previous to this, before I came on the board, Sherman’s Town budget grew 20% in four years (2011 thru 2015). Those were the highest Town budget increases over a four year span in Sherman’s history. I will be even more effective as First Selectman at continuing this practice of careful and effective budgeting. It will my number one priority. (The Town budget is the budget the Board of Selectman is responsible for. It’s 37% of the total budget. The School budget makes up the rest.)

I will create the necessary synergy required for all Town entities to
work together. The disconnect right now, for example, between the First Selectman’s office and Park and Rec is palpable. As diligent volunteers,  they deserve better treatment by their town leader as do other boards and commissions in town. Our Seniors deserve more attention and resources pointed in that direction and I will advocate for that, especially in part-time staffing needs. I will listen to the concerns of our Public Works employees and treat them with respect. Teamwork and motivating people to work together is a personal strength and if I am First Selectman there will be much better harmony and synchronization between Town agencies.

I will be responsive. I will listen and react. Board of Selectmen meetings will welcome feedback and comments from the public. The public will hear what is being said by the Selectmen and if issues are cloudy they will be explained. I want people to understand what is going on in Town. Shortcomings such as our undrinkable water will be dealt with. Sherman’s sodium levels in its drinking water have been off-the-charts for four years now. Water for both Town and private entities is undrinkable. Yet, after all this time, we are finally meeting with the state health officials (this Friday Sept. 22) who can help us begin the process of alleviating this critical situation. I don’t understand how something like this could go on for this long without efforts to remediate it. But it has. It’s the same for reliable cell phone service. Frustrated at seeing the Residents for Reliable Cell Service receive the same placating treatment meeting after meeting, I am proposing a Cell Service Committee for which I will volunteer to be the liaison to the First Selectman’s office. If I am First Selectman it will make facilitating the wonderful efforts of these concerned citizens even more productive.

I am going to strengthen our business community. Yes, we have one. And we need each and every one of them. Yet, I have spoken with long-time citizens who didn’t know certain businesses even exist – an indication of the need for proper signage that I will be advocating for. I will start an outreach program to help businesses do better and take advantage of each other’s success. I am hopeful that this will extend to the trade businesses as well.

As First Selectman, I will support all efforts to protect Candlewood
Lake. I will continue supporting the Candlewood Lake Authority, which offers the experience and expertise toward keeping Candlewood swim-able, boat-able, and fish-able. It’s outrageous that certain lake contingents, particularly a faction from New Fairfield, went out their way to undermine the CLA. As your First Selectman, I would fight that. It’s like this: our local area and our Town’s economic success is intrinsically tied to the health of the lake. If your First Selectman doesn’t speak out against attempts to undermine the lake’s health then we are playing fast and loose with the local economy. (And goodness knows Connecticut doesn’t need more economic bad news!) I will bring a change here and fight for the health of Candlewood Lake.

Thank you Town Tribune for giving all the candidates a voice here.
There’s much more to tell you, and in the coming weeks I will lay out
other objectives, particularly with respect to your taxes and our children’s education. Feel free to contact me at or 860 778 3394.

From the Desk of Selectman Lowe: Budget, CLA, Fire Department, and Tennis


Town Tribute July 17, 2017

Summer is in full swing and the Board of Selectman is weeks into the new fiscal budget year, which began July 1. We held a Town Meeting on Saturday, July 15 and the voters in attendance (about 30 folks) approved all of the agenda’s items unanimously. These included up to $10,000 to paint the exterior of the Senior Center, $43,000 for the ongoing replacement of docks (5 of them) at Town beach, $8,400 to replace the chain link fence at the basketball courts, the yearly $20,000 appropriation for Happy Acres to be used on non-capital repairs, $52,000 to the Sherman Volunteer Fire Department (SVFD) for a much-needed Ford F-350 pick-up truck, and also $9775 to the SVFD for repairs on Engine 5 and Tanker 8. These approved expenditures totaled $123,175 and that leaves $642,113 in the capitol non-recurring fund.

Referring to the Sherman Fire Department and Emergency Services, I can’t say enough about its members’ commitment to the safety and well-being of Sherman residents. And you can show your appreciation for these amazing people by purchasing tickets to the FIREMAN’S BALL, which will be held on, Saturday, August 5th at 6 pm on the Sherman Green. Scrumptious food, music, dancing, and neighborly nattering with a lot of fun folks all for a good cause! Please come out! This is a special 75th Anniversary Celebration and, again, it’s a wonderful way to show support and have some fun while you’re at it.

On Saturday, July 22 at 9 a.m. we are having a ribbon cutting ceremony for the repaired tennis courts at Veterans Field. The project appears to have come out looking great and the new courts will add a lot to the town’s character. The entire Board of Selectman is pleased and I know that a lot of local tennis players are overjoyed, too. Supporters of this project owe thanks to the Sherman’s Park and Recreation Commission for its steady commitment over the years to refurbishing the tennis courts, which were initially bequeathed to the town by the late Mary Hadlow. Ms. Hadlow, both in life and upon her passing, was a generous benefactor for many lovely matters in Sherman.

This is a critical time for the Candlewood Lake Authority (CLA) and the area’s economics as it seeks a replacement for Larry Marsicano who served exceptionally well as Executive Director for 14 years. Larry once said at an annual gathering of Candlewood Lake stakeholders and interested parties, “There are three primary threats to the lake: milfoil, zebra mussels, and politics.” It is my hope that politics doesn’t cloud the search for Larry’s replacement. Right now there is a small faction — many of the same people (and a few extra cronies) who advocated for herbicide to control milfoil (they were defeated but still persist) — that want to change the standard hiring practice of the CLA in order to favor hiring someone who better supports their agenda. This could have dire circumstances for the lake. For example, the new executive director might appease this group by being less eco-friendly than Larry was or the new executive director might not push for draw downs, which are effective in controlling both zebra mussels and milfoil. So it’s important for anyone concerned about the lake to stay current on the players involved in this hiring situation. Phyllis Schaer, CLA chairperson and lake volunteer extraordinaire, is a wonderful resource. Also, find out who your town’s CLA lake delegates are and ask them their opinion. And who should be concerned? Yes, lake residents and area business owners, but also every area homeowner. Along with being a recreational gem, Candlewood Lake is a vital gear in the economic engine for the five lake towns. There is a lot at stake here.

I had the good fortune of seeing the Broadway smash, Hamilton, two weeks ago. Along with exquisite entertainment, the show serves as a profound reminder of what a precious miracle our great country’s inception was. I followed the show with a lot of reading and refreshing about our country’s origin. It’s easy to take for granted the American way of life, our unique government, our rights, and our freedoms. But to examine the framework from which it all began – so much of it born of reasonable and passionate discussion measured with compromise — is valuable and makes one appreciate the United States of America even more.

Please feel free to contact me with questions and concerns. and at 860 778 3394. Thanks!