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Five hopefuls vie for four seats on the Stonington Board of Education

By Joe Wojtas

Publication: The Day

Published October 20. 2013 4:00AM

Stonington - There are only two other contested races in town besides the race for first selectman and Board of Selectmen, and one is the five-person race for the four open seats on the Board of Education.

Vying for the four-year terms are incumbent Democrats Gail MacDonald and Alisa C. Morrison as well as newcomer Terry Stefanski. MacDonald is the board chairwoman. The Republican candidates are incumbent Faith Leitner along with Alexa Garvey. The board's other three seats will be contested in 2015.

MacDonald, 53, of Pawcatuck, is a journalism professor at the University of Connecticut and a freelance writer who is seeking her third term. She has been the board chairwoman since 2009, was a member of the K-12 School Building Committee from 2000 to 2012, served on the school-based improvement teams at West Broad Street, Pawcatuck Middle and Stonington High schools and is a founding member of the Stonington Education Fund.

Morrison, 51, lives in Stonington and is an environmental scientist. She was recently a member of the committee that planned the renovations to the high school athletic fields, is past president of the Deans Mill School PTO and is a member of the Stonington Education Fund. She has also served on the Planning and Zoning Commission, Inland Wetlands Commission and Affordable Housing Committee.

Stefanski, 73, is retired and lives in Mystic. A Navy veteran, he is the former chairman of the Economic Development Commission, on which he served five years.

Leitner, 56, of Mystic is a professional musician. She has served on the PTOs at Deans Mill and Mystic Middle schools and on the Deans Mill school-based improvement teams. She is the school board representative to the K-12 School Building Committee and is a former member of the Stonington Harbor Management Commission.

Garvey, 48, lives in Pawcatuck. A speech and language pathologist, she was a longtime member of the PTOs at Mystic Middle School and Deans Mill School, where she was its president for two years.

Morrison, Leitner and Garvey have children in the school system.

The only other contested race is for town treasurer and has former Democratic probate judge Paul Cravinho running against incumbent Republican Martha Booker.

Running unopposed once again for town clerk and tax collector, respectively, are long-time incumbents Cindy Ladwig, a Democrat, and Gisela Harma, a Republican.

Running unopposed for the two six-year terms on the Board of Finance are two incumbents: Democrat June Strunk and Republican Dudley Wheeler.

While the finance board is responsible for creating the annual budget and approving major expenditures, the Democratic and Republican candidates always run unopposed and are elected unless there is a unaffiliated candidate, because of the way the town charter is written. Attempts to change the language so these are contested positions have failed in the past.

Running unopposed for Board of Assessment Appeals is Democrat Betty Richards. The unopposed candidates for constables are Democrats Sandy Grimes, Bob Suchy, David Santos and Paul Altman along with Republicans Ed McCabe, Anthony Lombardo, Susette Tibus and Daniel Booker.

j.wojtas@theday.com

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