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Waterford - When the next Board of Education convenes for its first meeting, members may find plenty of familiar faces sitting around the table. Five of the six candidates running for the four open seats are either incumbents or have previously served on the board.
The six - two Republicans and four Democrats - agreed that maintaining high-quality services without straying from fiscal responsibility would be among the biggest tasks of the next board.
"The quality of life in Waterford is excellent due in large part to the provision of superior town services and buildings in the areas of education, safety, health, senior and youth services and infrastructure improvements," said incumbent Kathleen M. McCarty, a Republican, in response to questions posed by The Day.
McCarty, who is chairwoman of both the Board of Education and the Republican Town Committee, said the board and the town as a whole will be challenged to find more innovative and creative solutions to defray the costs of rising property taxes.
Jessica J. McLaughlin, a Democrat who was a board member from 2007 to 2011, agreed that maintaining high academic standards without breaking the bank will be a priority.
"Every facet of the educational system needs to be examined to determine how cost efficiencies can be gained," McLaughlin said. "This can be realized by combining services and purchasing with other districts for the greatest cost benefit."
Donald Baird Blevins, a Democrat who served for 12 years on the board and is a past president of the Connecticut Association of Boards of Education, said he would advocate for the Waterford school system at the state level through his contacts with legislators, members of the State Board of Education, and the education commissioner.
The other two Democrats running also have prior experience on the board, including another former board chairman, Gregory A. Benoit, and incumbent Anne L. Ogden.
Starting out with a depth of experience, according to Waterford Democratic Town Committee Chairman J. W. "Bill" Sheehan, would help make for a stronger and more well-rounded board.
"They know what to look for, having been in the position before, they've learned," Sheehan said. "Each person brings their own individual strengths to the position and everyone looks at it a little differently. You get the person who concentrates on the educational aspect of the job, you have another looking at the financial aspects, and another with tremendous experience in curriculum development. It helps allow the board to come up with a good consensus on which way to go."
Benoit, a Waterford native who served three terms, said he is a candidate with great experience in public service and forging a consensus.
Also running is Republican challenger Lisa Marie Barry, an attorney who has previously served on the town's personnel review board.
Candidates for other races in Waterford are:
For Board of Finance: Republicans Mark Douglas Wiggins, Ronald R. Fedor and Norman George Glidden, and Democrats Elizabeth Ann Sabilia and Marcia A. Benvenuti;
For Board of Assessment Appeals: Republican Richard A. LaCombe Sr. and Susan P. Picardi;
For Zoning Board of Appeals: Republicans Barbara A. Panciera, Francisco J. Ribas and E. Peter Bendfeldt, and Democrat Joshua A. Friedman;
For Zoning Board of Appeals alternate: Republican Elizabeth M. Yother and Democrat Joseph M. Filippetti.
The Day asked candidates for top offices in the municipal elections to answer three questions:
■ What are the major issues for your town?
■ What makes you the best candidate for this office?
■ What was the last book you read, and what did you think of it?
To read their responses, go to