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Monday, June 30, 2014

Save Pettibone School

The following is a letter to the editor submitted last week to the New Milford Spectrum. 

June 24, 2014
To the Editor:

Shame on you, Mayor Murphy, and the Republican members of the New Milford Board of Education board. We watched last week as five Republican school board members, with Mayor Murphy by their side, voted to close Pettibone school after the next school year.

They did this knowing that the public was overwhelmingly opposed to this action. They did this after four public hearings at which the public spoke out vehemently against closing the school. They did this knowing that nearly 400 people signed a petition to keep the school open. They did this at the urging of Mayor Murphy. They did this despite evidence to the contrary that birth rates are going up. Only one Republican member voted to save the school, along with the 3 Democratic members of the board.

The children have no say in this. But the children will have to endure hour-long bus rides to schools that will be farther away. The Mayor’s slash-and-burn budgeting has meant that children go without, teaching staff is stretched, and now it will be worse.

Without a strong school system, the children suffer. Our property values go down, and our taxes go up. People who think about moving to this town may reconsider when they become aware of the town's anti-school attitude . People who want to sell their homes will have to wait even longer for buyers.

These are the school board members who voted to close Pettibone School:
Daniele Shook
Dave Littlefield
Angela Chastain
Theresa Volinski
Wendy Faulenbach

They were supported by most of the Republican members of the Town Council who spoke out publicly in favor of closing the school. When these candidates are up for re-election, should they choose to run, all registered voters in New Milford should vote these people out of office for they did not serve the people of New Milford, and they failed the children of this town.

Andy Grossman
Peter Mullen
Mary Jane Lundgren
Paul Garlasco
Adrienne Aurichio
The undersigned represent the Executive Committee of the Democratic Town Committee. A majority of the DTC supported this letter.

Friday, March 21, 2014

We're off and running

We held our organizational meeting on Monday as New Milford Democrats for Change morphed into the New  Milford Democratic Town Committee. Most importantly, we passed a resolution supporting the Loaves & Fishes Hospitality House's location in an area where the clients will have easy access to services.

Here is the resolution as approved by a unanimous voice vote of the DTC.

Resolved, the New Milford Democratic Town Committee supports the relocation of

Loaves and Fishes Hospitality House to a centrally located property that is reasonable

walking distance to the downtown area. This property should have easy access to other

vital resources such as Social Services, homeless shelter, transportation, and other 

supportive services.

The Committee also elected officers for the next two years:

Chairman: Andy Grossman
Vice Chair: Peter Mullen
Treasuer: Paul Galasco
Recording Sec.: Mary Jane Lundgren
Corresponding Sec:  Adrienne Auricho

That's four-fifths of our Executive Committee with Adrienne just out of the  picture on the left.
From left is: Mary Jane, myself, Peter and Paul.

We had a solid turnout with about a dozen non-DTC Democrats showing up in support as well as Audrey Blondin, one of our two reps to the State Democratic Central Committee from the 30th State Senate district.

We hope you will consider attending our next meeting on Monday, April 21 at 7:30pm at the Railroad Station on Railroad Street.

Our website is also active at as is our Facebook page under New Milford Democrats. 

Friday, March 7, 2014

Contacting us

If you want to learn more about what the new Democratic Town Committee is up to, please email us at newmilforddemsforchange at 

Wednesday, March 5, 2014


New Milford Democrats took the first step yesterday in returning us to a two-party town when they elected our slate by a 2-1 margin in the Town Committee primary out of about 630 ballots cast. The turnout of 14% of registered voters was higher than many had anticipated. 

The News-Times has an article on the primary.

We want to thank party members for their huge vote of confidence in our group. Our message of the need to become more inclusive, to develop grass-roots organizing strategies and to begin speaking out more forcefully on local issues resonated with voters.  Already we have begun to move on updating our Web site on a timely basis -- certainly more than once every two years! -- to keep Democrats informed on their party's activities. 

The DTC will elect officers at its first meeting this month. Date and location to be announced.

We hope that several of the former DTC members rejoin the committee when we have vacancies. In introducing change to the DTC, it was never our intention to "throw the baby out with the bathwater."  

Monday, March 3, 2014

S See our 12-point plan for reviving the Democratic Party below.
(Note: On the actual ballot you need to color in the entire circle.) 
Vote in your usual polling place from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.  You can vote for up to 35 candidates.


Thursday, February 27, 2014

Our 12-Point Plan

Reposted from below to reach new readers. Several points to make first

  • New Milford Democrats for Change did NOT force the primary. If you are unhappy that the town is spending almost $10,000 --- that's a lot of salt -- don't blame us.  We won the town-wide caucus in January on an 83-62 vote over the incumbent Town Committee slate so it was THEIR members' choice to launch a petition drive to set up a primary.
  •  This plan is all about how to start winning elections and becoming competitive again. Democrats have not run a mayoral candidate since 2009.  We failed to field a full slate of Council and Board of Ed candidates in 2013.  That is not acceptable. There is a reason Republicans have publicly attacked us and complimented our opponents. They are scared of us. 

·         More  fund-raising events. We need to hold at least three events a year and feature the party's stars: Sens. Chris Murphy and Richard Blumenthal, Rep. Elizabeth Esty and our state officials. How about a summer barbecue/pool party? A dinner with Gov. Malloy?  Bottom line is the party can’t win local elections without at least $5,000 in the bank. How much do we have now? Don't ask.
           Continually recruit candidates. We can’t start looking for candidates a couple of months before we nominate them in July. Recruitment for the next campaign must start immediately after the previous election. In 2011, I recommended we form a Nominating Committee charged with finding new candidates. Great idea, people said. Party leadership prompted put it aside.

·         Communicate with party members. Keep Democratic Party members in the loop with regular e-newsletters and/or through social media and a website. The party needs to update our website more than once every two years. We need to actively encourage people to attend DTC meetings instead of discouraging new members. Publicize a phone number to reach party officials. Establish “associate memberships” for those who could then become first in line to become members when vacancies arise.  In short, make the party more inclusive
·         Devise a media strategy. We need a plan that consists of more than throwing our hands in the air and say, “The Spectrum hates us.” 

·         Make better use of technology. Actually, ANY use of technology would be nice considering the party has shunned f the Connecticut Democrats CT VAN database of voters, a gold mine of information for organizational, recruitment, and get-out-the-vote purposes. And isn't about time we have a party chair who has email?

·         Launch voter registration drives. New people are moving into the community every day. We need to act as a sort of Welcome Wagon to show why they should support us. We should work with local colleges to register young voters and convince unaffiliated voters to become Democrats.

·         Have the party chair regularly campaign with candidates. Leaders should lead. During campaigns, the head of the party should be out in the community knocking on doors, making phone calls, actively interacting with voters.

·         Sponsor charitable events/campaigns/crusades.  The party should sponsor fund-raisers for local charities or groups in need. This idea was raised in committee last year, praised ... and promptly abandoned. This is the party chair’s job: to make sure things get done.

·         Give out awards.. Handing out awards to local groups and individuals would earn the party positive publicity in the newspaper and goodwill in the community. 

·         Work more closely with other town committees and the state committee to make New Milford a more influential town in regional and state politics. The other town committees, especially those in our area, are a resource we need to take advantage of. We should exchange ideas, information, etc. with them on a regular basis. There are excellent tools and resources available from the Connecticut Democratic Party that we have ignored. Why?

·         Reach out to state and federal elected officials on a regular basis instead of waiting for them to come to us.  The town committee needs to put itself at the center of state and federal election efforts.

·         Revive the Executive Committee. The party chairmanship should not be a dictatorship. The Executive Committee should meet regularly to discuss strategies and toss around ideas to bring before the full committee.  

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Who are We?

It's all well and good to advocate change in a lethargic and listless Democratic Party, but who are the people advocating this shift? Voters have a right to know if New Milford Democrats for Change are a group of serious-minded, experienced and skilled group of enthusiasts or just a bunch of gadflies stirring up trouble?

We are you.  We're your neighbors, your friends, your co-workers. The people you see buying paint at Taylor's Hardware, ordering a latte at Bank Street Coffee House.or eating a sandwich at Gaylordsville Country Store.

We're familiar names and faces like former Councilman Peter Mullen, Board of Ed members Bob Coppola and David Shaffer (the former New Milford High School educator and one-time Teacher of the Year).  We're Mary Jane Lundgren, a long-time social activist and Town Councilwoman.  Board of Finance electees Gale Alexander and Barbara Wolf as well as Councilman Walter Bayer.

In fact, our slate includes seven people who New Milford voters elected to public office since 2011.  There are two former mayoral candidates.  Another seven of us (who aren't an elected official) serve as appointees on various town boards and commissions   Several of  us ran in the recent municipal election including Janice Alexander, Adrienne Aurichio, Jackie Marois and myself.

But just as importantly, Democrats for Change has attracted a raft of new, passionate and committed residents who, like you, are tired of seeing the party lose election after election. We are people like local attorney and parent David Gronbach whose wife Vanessa is reopening the Bank Street.Book Nook.  We're activists like Tom O'Brien who has fought tirelessly for bicycle enthusiasts with his New Milford River Trail group. We're teacher Ann Mueller who is tired of seeing our school budget decimated year after year.  We're small business owners like Lacey Wallace, Norman Adler, James Waldorf, Craig Baker and Tonya Tribble Luchford.  

We're retirees on fixed incomes. We have kids in the school system. And just like you, we pay taxes and want to receive decent services for our investment.