We reached out and asked candidates to respond to a set of questions; if a candidate did not respond, their name is listed, so that you know who is running for each office. Updates from all candidates are welcome and will be published as Letters to the Editor. The questions posed to the candidates were:
- Tell us a little about yourself.
- Why are you running for the position?
- What do you see as the important issues facing your town and how would you address them in your role?
- What are the key things you love about this town and its people?
- Additional thoughts to leave voters with?
Candidates for First Selectman
Nancy Gorski (R): My husband Les and I relocated from Buffalo, NY to Killingworth in 1999. We have two grown daughters. We hosted the Killingworth Lights Spectacular with the Killingworth Women’s Organization for 10 years, decorating our home with thousands of lights and welcoming local residents into our yard to enjoy the lights, cookies and hot cocoa provided by the KWO.
Professionally, I worked in the pharmaceutical industry for nearly 40 years, retiring in June of 2020. I became active in town politics in 2005. I served six years on the Board of Education, eight years on the Board of Finance, and two years as Selectman. I am currently serving on the Charter Revision and Conservation Commissions.
Based on my background and previous experience in town, I felt that I had something of value to offer the taxpayers of Killingworth. Now that I am retired, I also have the time to do just that.
Public health and safety: We need to address the concerns of residents with impacted wells from PFAS, work with the state to identify a source, and implement a plan to remediate it. Additionally, with an increase in crime in CT and in our area, we need to work closely with the resident state trooper to learn what can be done to protect not only our residents, but our local businesses.
Our family made the decision to settle in Killingworth in 1999 after recognizing what a beautiful area it is. We’ve also come to love the spirit of its residents. We have so many volunteers and see neighbors helping neighbors all the time.
I plan to meet with as many townspeople and stakeholders as possible between now and the election. I welcome every resident’s input as this is every resident’s town.
John Samperi (CP): Hello. I am the First Selectman candidate endorsed by the Killingworth Conservative Party. I am in my 16th year as a Killingworth resident. I have a wonderful blended family life with wife, Deborah, children, Kimberly, Daniel, Bethany & Kelly, and my grandchildren, Simon & Rory Brown, who both went to the Regional 17 school system from kindergarten through high school. (Thank you to all the great teachers they had, despite the last two years being very trying). My daughter Bethany and her two boys live in Killingworth. I graduated West Haven High in 1972 and received various trade accreditations and certificates of continuing education. I have owned my own business since 1988, I am an HVAC contractor.
I am enjoying my 50th year as a registered Republican, I voted for President Nixon, or as Charlie Morgan would say, Tricky Dick. My civic involvement includes serving as a lifetime member of the NRA, a Connecticut Farm Bureau associate, founder of the West Haven Land Trust, and an open space activist. I coached youth football, girls and boys soccer, and umpired for the ASA Men’s Softball League.
After watching the other First Selectman candidate just sit there and do nothing for 16 years I believe that is long enough to serve and accomplish nothing. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that I will do a better job at the First Selectman’s position than the other candidate in the race. I’ve been able to cut the mill rate in my Fire Commissioners seat by three mills and increased productivity and did not have one death in the fire district and I maintained that 3 mill rate decrease for the 4 years that I served. Also, as a Councilman-at-Large I represented 54,000 people and was responsible for over a $100m budget and sat in that city council with 12 Democrats and we all got along just fine which shows my ability to work well across the aisle.
The infrastructure is the biggest thing that every resident gets to use, besides the educational system, and because of my experience in the construction industry I will oversee each project with the road foreman, Walter Adametz and will be hands-on in all construction sites.
I will cut the mill rate in my first term.
On day one I will begin to form a police commission of ex-policemen, active policemen and citizens to oversee the coverage of the town and to see that all the citizens have the protection they pay for.
I will make our local government more efficient by supplying our town employees with the proper tools for a more safer and productive environment.
I’ve always enjoyed farming, hunting, fishing, and the outdoors. So, of course, the beautiful town of Killingworth falls right into what I love most in my life.
I have made strong friendships with 99% of the people here, but the 1% of liars, cheaters and rumor spreaders, I could do without. My wife Deborah and I would love to spend the rest of our lives here.
The Killingworth Conservative Party has put together the most qualified slate of candidates who will lead the town of Killingworth into the future. We have three successful business owners John Samperi of Samperi Heating and Cooling, John Psenicnik, owner of Tire Express and owner Harvey Derosa of Realty Associates, Advanced Pest Control and North East Management Group among others and Dave Miller, former business owner and Regional 17 bus driver, he and his wife Pat are two of the pillars in this town; and last is Ray Szumilas, who is one of the hardest working people I’ve ever met, and who works for the Lee Co.
My experience in politics, small business, farming, honesty, hard work, and common sense will benefit all those that live and work in this town. I never stop working for what I believe in.
I will always put others’ best interests before my own, and I love the Lord with all my heart and soul. Our motto for the KCP is we want government out of our lives, we want government out of our pockets, we stand for the flag and we kneel for the cross. Vote Row C November 2nd. Thank you.
Candidates for Selectman
Louis Annino Jr. (D): A lifelong, fourth generation resident of Killingworth, I have had the privilege of growing up in this town, attending its schools and later owning a home and raising my family here.
I have spent better than half my life volunteering at some level in public service. I have served as an Officer in the United States Navy, a volunteer coach, on church councils, and spent over 20 years as a commissioner of Planning and Zoning and for the past decade as Selectman. I believe very strongly that as Americans we all have a responsibility to participate in our government. I also believe that with all the great things we enjoy living in this country, we have a responsibility to give something back.
As a Selectman and formerly a Commissioner of Planning and Zoning, my record of balancing the growth needs of this town along with maintaining its rural character speaks to my commitment to Killingworth.
I believe my record as Selectman speaks for itself. During my tenure as selectman, I have played a leadership role in fiscal responsibility. I led the charge for development of a strategic capital plan while carefully managing our precious operating dollars (your taxes). This has led to a nearly flat operating budget over the same period while allowing for responsible capital planning that will ensure the quality of our town roads, municipal facilities and services for the future. In addition, I have worked to strengthen municipal services through staff accountabilities and improvements in interdepartmental communication. It is on this basis I continue to ask for your vote for me as Selectman.
One important issue that I see facing the town is the condition of our municipal facilities. Specifically I am speaking of our town offices and emergency response buildings. Virtually all are well outdated and in need of capital improvements. To bring the current town hall and fire stations up to reasonable conditions will take millions of dollars to achieve. I do believe this needs to be done but I also believe there are phased approaches to achieving these necessary upgrades. This can be done through smart planning and design focused on incremental investments that are within our current capital means to fund.
A second concern is the health of our town commercial district. As we all have experienced, there is much more pressure on our main road arteries (RT 80 & especially RT 81) that travel through our town center. This has led to growth in our commercial district which is a very good thing. However, if we do not proactively plan for the “harmonious” expansion of these roads and this area we will be faced with a commercial district that is less than desirable. I propose that we take the initiative to consider plans that create “traffic calming” features, interconnecting pedestrian infrastructure, and other enhancements that will make Killingworth’s commercial district a destination rather than a congested choke point or superhighway. This can cost effectively be accomplished through proactive planning with the various state agencies such as DEEP, CT DOT, and the regional planning agencies now and before the need is critical. Solid plans with endorsements of the various supporting agencies lead to grants and other means of creative funding.
Perhaps the most pressing item is the recent payment of $1.8 million to the Town of Killingworth as the result of the American Rescue Plan 2021. This is a significant windfall of revenue to this town and will require careful consideration as to how these funds are to be invested. I hope and will advocate that whatever is done it is an investment in our future. I am strongly opposed to investing in any depreciating assets such as roads, vehicles, etc. Instead, it should be in a form that will continue to pay dividends to the taxpayer’s long into the future, things like improved schools, infrastructure, and housing. To do this will require nonpartisan engagement and input from our residents at all levels of planning. Further it needs to be led by those with a proven history of strategic planning, creative design and the ability to get things done.
The thing that I most admire about this town is its rural character, quite neighborhoods and peaceful open spaces. The people of Killingworth who have historically lived in this community, accept that to enjoy these benefits there are trade-offs such as driving a bit farther to shop, to work or go to school. While the people of Killingworth may enjoy their peace and quiet and even perhaps be somewhat reclusive, what I admire most is that we are a community of volunteers. When something really needs doing, when a neighbor really needs help, when action really needs taking, the people of Killingworth are there. This is something I find incredibly inspirational and makes me proud to live in and be part of this great town.
While I have some bold thoughts and ideas I also believe I have the experience both as a town leader and a professional to make these things happen.
My experience as a Registered Professional Engineer and nearly 30 years of facilities management experience including Yale University, Bayer Corporation, and currently as the Chief Facilities Officer at the University of New Haven, combined with my experience in public service make me uniquely qualified for the position of Selectman. This experience includes budget and staff management, strategic planning, road, facility and infrastructure planning and maintenance, emergency management as well as a track record of creativity, leadership and integrity.
My message has been and continues to be very simple: To serve the people of Killingworth. This includes: managing our tax dollars responsibly, keeping our town and roads safe, maintaining its rural character, ensuring our children receive quality educations from our schools, providing commercial opportunities supporting the needs of the town and making available balanced and varied housing opportunities.
Graig Judge (R)
John Psenicnik (CP): I’ve lived in Killingworth for 31 years. I have successfully operated my own business since 1985, and I am presently the owner of Tire Express in North Haven. I’ve known John Samperi for over 15 years and it is a pleasure to run with him. I truly believe with his experience we can make Killingworth a more fiscally responsible town; a safer one as well.
I have been a successful businessman operating several companies over the past years while creating jobs. I believe this puts me well above any of the other candidates running for this seat. I believe that John Samperi, I and the Board Finance will reduce the cost of doing business in this town. This will eventfully reduce the overall tax burdens.
For a person like me who has never used the transfer station in 31 years and has no children in the school system, like most people Killingworth who live here, they get up in the morning, early, and go to work out of this town. The only thing we see and use are the roads. The town workers do a good job but John and I and our Board of Finance know we can improve the infrastructure because of our business experience. The taxes I pay for what I receive are too high and the team I’m running with will reduce them.
The best thing I love about Killingworth is I drive up my long driveway and all I see is woods. I know a hand full of people and see no one except when people like John Samperi come up my driveway, and I like it that way.
I’ve been a lifelong Conservative and Republican, and have served as the Vice Chairman on the Killingworth Conservative Party since its founding. I do hope that you support this amazing slate that John Samperi has put together. Thank you for your support. See you November 2. Vote Row C
Eileen Blewett (R): I have been a resident of this beautiful community for over 24 years. My husband and I moved here on a whim and have never looked back. Together we became deeply involved in our community. Community ties and involvement have always been the core of who I am. We live in a town that cares deeply for one another and reach out to assist every chance we get. That is something that I am very proud of. I currently serve on the Board of Selectman and Board of Education. I am also very involved in volunteer work with the KWO, Helping Hands food pantry, HK Backpack program and Killingworth Scholarship Association. We have raised our 4 beautiful children here and have given them the strong foundation of community to live very happy and productive lives as young adults.
I have the privilege and honor to currently serve on the Board of Selectman. It is a position that I take very seriously. It has been an interesting two years and I have learned a lot and extended my voice to represent the voices of community members. Many have reached out to share a thought, idea or concern and I value and respect each one. I hope to continue and expand that work. I will continue to work diligently towards a fiscally responsible budget. I never lose sight of the beauty of this rural community and commit to maintaining that beauty. I have a great deal of respect for my fellow members of the Board of Selectman and their devotion to this town. But in many ways, we have been sidetracked by the impact of COVID 19 and now it is time to move ahead with many key projects for our town. Projects that I very much want to be a part of and have the desire to see to completion. The last year has taught us about the importance of our health department and first responders and the absolute strain it puts on our resources. We must work to always protect the safety of this town. I am strongly dedicated to this work. I have the great privilege to know many people in this town and listened to many things that they have to say. I represent their voice on the Board of Selectman.
Killingworth faces many keys issues that need immediate attention. The needs of our Fire Department and Ambulance Association are long overdue. We must create a path to determine the next steps for getting our dedicated volunteer fire department what they need to be safe and effective in their work. The condition of the Town Hall is completely unacceptable, and I intend to continue to push for a plan. The Town Hall is the face of this community, and this must be a priority. The town also has the American Rescue funds to consider. The committee that was created will explore the options for the spending of these funds. The communication with the community will be paramount in this task. The completion of the revisions to the Town Charter is another critical priority. The Charter Commission has a large task, but it is vital to the function of Killingworth. It goes without saying that we must continue to create a fiscally efficient and responsible budget to the community that represents the needs of the town.
The true foundation of Killingworth is community outreach and involvement. Through the good and bad times this community is there to lend that helping hand and it never stops amazing me. The people of Killingworth are passionate about their thoughts and ideas and value the importance of others. This town represents kindness and respect – two virtues I cherish.
Jamie Mowat Young (D): I’m excited to run with Lou Annino, Jr. on the Democratic ticket to serve on Killingworth’s Board of Selectmen.
My husband, Brian, and I made Killingworth our home 23 years ago because it’s rural and well maintained, with a terrific corps of engaged residents and an outstanding school system. We are raising our three sons here and enjoying the beautiful landscape and community activities.
I have a graduate degree in ethics, and a law degree with a specialization in mediation and contracts. I strive to find common ground and bridge differences. I’ve led complex undertakings, streamlined organizations and procedures, and navigated large bureaucracies. I worked as Associate Legal Counsel to Governor Rell and in the departments of Energy and Environmental Protection and Transportation under Governor Malloy. I was frequently tapped to resolve sensitive, complicated, or cross-agency challenges. Before I studied law, I worked for over a decade in universities, leading teams and streamlining projects with multi-million dollar budgets. I love conquering challenges and getting things done with good cheer. And, I am known for my integrity.
I grew up with my sisters in an Air Force family that was active in the VFW, community, and church. That upbringing built public service into my core. It compels me to jump in and help when a need arises. It prompts me to provide assistance behind the scenes. It led me to serve on state and local councils and community organizations such as the United Way, KWO, and the KVFC Auxiliary. It also led to serving on Killingworth’s Wetlands and Watercourses Commission, Water Pollution Control Authority, Charter Revision Commission, and the Representative Policy Board of the Regional Water Authority.
Who else am I? A reliable and creative problem solver, a caretaker, an environmentalist, a believer in prayer and elbow grease, a klutz, and someone who loves our town.
I love Killingworth and its people. I want to devote my experience and skills to the preservation of Killingworth’s best qualities and the creation of a bright future. I believe my moderate and integrative approach suits the community well.
I bring a practical but creative Killingworth-centric perspective. I understand the laws and procedures of municipal, regional, and state governments and agencies. I can work with colleagues regardless of party. I can make tough budgetary calls. I ask for your vote in November to give me the opportunity to serve you on the Board of Selectmen.
Overall, Killingworth is in great shape, but we face both short- and long-term issues. We have all experienced the increasing traffic down our main corridors, and the dangers and inconvenience that come along with it. Some of our town facilities are sorely outdated. The drop in enrollment in our school system has been sharp, and that poses questions about how we will continue to support the strong education we count on for our kids. Every day, I hear more urgent calls for alternative housing that is accessible to young families and older residents who want to downsize. Some of our households and public buildings have been found to have PFAS in their water, and we need to find both immediate and permanent solutions to that. In a somewhat longer time frame, the statewide crisis in managing our waste system has huge implications for Killingworth.
As a Selectman, I would advocate for a DOT/regional planning analysis and grants with input from our business community to more proactively address the increased flows in traffic while not detracting from Killingworth’s ambiance. Before offering my opinion on the status of infrastructure, I would need to deliberately engage the research, reports, and recommendations regarding the structural needs of the town hall and fire houses and balance that with strategic capital planning and resources and any necessary updates by experts. I would not want to recreate the wheel and would listen to stakeholders and the other Selectmen. I would seek grants to assist with any of the associated costs. I would apply that same diligence to all areas of town needs. I would further reach out to sister municipalities in Connecticut and other states to learn about alternative approaches that might inform our recommendations.
I love the winding trails among the trees, the howl of coyotes, the sight of bats looping over vernal pools, the helping snowplow of a neighbor, the teamwork of volunteers, the sunny farms of Killingworth, the maple syrup made at Parmelee, and the evolving small businesses providing even more reasons for shoppers to stay in town. I love that the first responders know us and arrive quickly.
I love that our townspeople came together to form the KWO, HK Backpack Program, the Killingworth Ambulance Association, and so many more groups to sustain our community. I love that when ballfields were badly needed, Mr. Auer grabbed his truck and dug in; when trails needed to be cleared, Mr. Dodson and Andy Annino stepped up; when a town center was longed for, the emerging team of volunteers of what would become the Parmelee Farm Committee began their visionary endeavors. Gardening, coaching, meals, preserving history, supporting school activities, granting scholarships, … the list of needs met by Killingworth volunteers is long and compelling. Our town continues to flourish because of the creativity, dedication, and teamwork of volunteers. What better environment exists in which to both raise my kids and dedicate my skills?
Plus, I love that the houses are far enough apart that my kids’ bagpipe lessons don’t invite noise complaints.
My legal, labor, land, administrative, and contract expertise and background in the Departments of Transportation and Energy and Environmental Protection will complement Lou Annino’s comprehensive strengths on our Board of Selectmen. I intend to work hard on the team to: learn; maintain the safety of our residents and enhance housing options; support economic development and environmental preservation while maintaining Killingworth’s rural essence; work with other entities to efficiently improve our roads and infrastructure; research alternatives when issues arise; and efficiently manage the town budget.
It takes good listening, care, and strong leadership on the Board of Selectmen to support volunteers, balance competing interests, strategically plan, and maintain our infrastructure. I hope you’ll give Lou Annino, Jr., and me the opportunity to do just that.