Stonington candidates float ideas for improving town, its schools

Stonington — While some communities struggle to find people to run for office, there are not only enough candidates here to contest almost all of the major offices, but those running for the finance and school boards have specific ideas about how to better the town and its schools.

The candidates’ occupations range from marine owner and hotel manager to bankers and a school psychologist.

Democratic school board candidate Jack Morehouse, who owns Masons Island Marina, suggested that graduating seniors and their parents fill out an “exit survey.”

“This would enable us to gather information from families about their experiences in the school system and give the administration further insight into areas that may need improvement,” he said.

Morehouse also suggested the school system form more learning partnerships for students with Mystic Seaport and Mystic Aquarium and bring more Science Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) activities such as robotics into the middle school curriculum.

Republican school board candidate Gordon Lord III, a sales and marketing director, pointed out that the school system currently spends less than 1 percent of its budget on technology.

Lord said there are grant programs that the town may be eligible for that could help pay for those upgrades.

“We live in a digital age where everything and everyone is connected. Technology plays a critical role in our society and I’d like to see Stonington be a leader amongst our peer schools in the area,” he said.

Incumbent Democratic school board member Candace Anderson, a school psychologist, suggested that the school system advertise as if it is a private institution to attract students from neighboring towns, something that other communities do. She also suggested examining why the town is losing students to magnet and private schools.

Incumbent Republican Blunt White, a retired banker who is running unopposed for a two-year term on the Board of Finance, said that even if state education aid to the town declines, there should be no changes in the school budget. He suggested filling in any gap with savings from elsewhere.

“Priorities for spending are education and public safety, then infrastructure and then general government,” he said.

Democrat Farouk Rajab, the general manager of the Providence Marriott Downtown who is seeking a four-year term on the finance board, pledged to make establishing a dog park one of his priorities, as well as school improvements.

He said he would work to make the town “completely independent from state aid.”

“Hartford, regardless of party affiliation, will use the “aid” as means to get what they want passed. I refuse to allow anyone to use my neighbors and my larger Stonington family in any shape or form,” he said.

Republican Lynn Young, a Realtor who has served on the Water Pollution Control Authority for the past 16 years and is seeking a four-year term on the finance board, said she would like the town to identify services it can share with neighboring towns such as finally negotiating an agreement to allow North Stonington to connect with the town’s sewer system and sending its students to Stonington High School.

Republican Lance Hamilton, a sales manager who is seeking a four-year term on the Board of Finance, proposed working with the town representatives in the General Assembly “on legislation to develop formulas for state aid that flows back to municipalities from sales tax so that communities are not left guessing year after year about how much funding they will receive.”

j.wojtas@theday.com

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