Letters to the Editor — Nov. 2023 Endorsements

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Support for Leenders

I am writing to publicly add my enthusiastic support to the many who already support Kate Leenders in the upcoming School Board election.

I have had the pleasure of knowing Kate for the last nine years as a friend, fellow parent and peer in the workforce. I have relied on her on many occasions as a friend and as someone I highly respect. I know her to be a patient listener who remains level headed and fully considers options before making decisions. She is well organized and a practical thinker who follows through on commitments.

Kate has children in Wells Road School and Suffield High School, but her commitment to the Granby Public Schools reaches well beyond the interests of her own children. Kate cares deeply about the quality of education for all students. She will advocate fairly and enthusiastically for all students, families, teachers and administrators to achieve the best possible outcome for Granby and its students. 

Kate is not just a wonderful mother, wife and friend she has dedicated her life and career to the safety of children throughout Connecticut and can bring valuable insight to the table. She will be an incredible asset to the Granby Board of Education. I encourage all Granby residents to elect Kate in November.

Marissa Auclair

I am writing this letter to enthusiastically recommend Kate Leenders for a position on the Town of Granby’s Board of Education. I have had the privilege of knowing Kate for 13 years, and I can confidently attest to her exceptional qualifications, dedication and unwavering commitment to improving our community and educational system.

Kate Leenders is not only an outstanding social worker but also a remarkable neighbor who consistently goes above and beyond to make a positive impact on the lives of those around her. Her passion for education and her genuine concern for the well-being of our community make her an ideal candidate for the board of education.

As a social worker, Kate has demonstrated her deep understanding for the challenges that students and families in Granby and across Connecticut face. She has worked tirelessly to provide support, resources and guidance to individuals and families in need. Her ability to empathize with others and her exceptional communication skills have allowed her to build meaningful connections with students, parents and educators alike.

One of Kate’s most remarkable qualities is her ability to collaborate effectively with diverse groups of people. She is a great listener, always open to new ideas and perspectives. Her approachable demeanor and willingness to engage in constructive dialogue make her an excellent candidate for the board of education, where decision-making and teamwork are essential.

Kate comes from a long line of distinguished public servants. Her family has been actively involved in the Town of Barkhamsted’s government for generations. Her grandfather served on the board of education, while her father has served on the town’s planning and zoning committee for many years. If elected, she would be following in the footsteps of her family’s experience in public service.

I wholeheartedly endorse Kate Leenders for a position on the Granby Board of Education and believe that her unique blend of experience, and passion for education will make her a valuable asset. I encourage you to give her candidacy the serious consideration it deserves.

Colleen Peling

I am writing this letter on behalf of my neighbor and friend Katharine Leenders for the position of board of education. I have known Kate for 15 years since she moved across the street from us with her family. Words that I would use to describe Kate are thoughtful, pragmatic, and generous. Kate has two children in Granby Public Schools. Her husband is a Lieutenant in the Manchester Police Force. It is without hesitation that I write this letter of recommendation to the Granby Drummer.

I asked Kate to consider running and serving on the board of education because I believe that her professional experience would be a benefit to not only the BOE but also the children and families of Granby. Professionally, Kate is a social worker who has worked directly with schools throughout Connecticut to help our children and their families. As a long-time educator with 30 years of experience in schools, I can tell you that our children are not okay and that their socio-emotional well-being is under stress like never before. Having someone with Kate’s skill set would be an asset to the entire school community as we work to meet the needs of our children and families.

Please consider giving Kate your vote for the position on the BOE on Nov. 7.

David Peling Ed.D.

Support for Gilton

I would like to express my support for Granby Board of Education candidate Kristina Gilton. I have known Kristina for over 10 years now, from her tenure as PTO president to her directorship at the Granby Education Foundation. When Kristina told me two years ago that she was going to be appointed to fill an opening on the BOE, I was excited for her and happy for Granby’s students because I know personally how much Kristina cares about our children’s education. She is dedicated to improving our school district’s performance and is the type of person who will work tirelessly to see that our children receive the best education available.

Kristina has always been open to considering different points of view and I was greatly impressed by her responses to student questions at the recent BOE candidates’ forum. It was clear she had spent time preparing for the forum—she did a terrific job.

Most importantly, I know she is the kind of person who follows through on her commitments, a trait that will be a benefit to both the BOE and Granby’s students. My family and I will be voting for Kristina on election day, and we hope you will as well.

Glenn Cusano

We are pleased to endorse Kristina Gilton for re-election to the Granby Board of Education. We have known Kristina and the Gilton family for nearly 15 years and can attest to the passion Kristina shares for education and the town of Granby.

Kristina and her husband, Jeff, have two children who’ve benefited from the Granby Public School System. Kristina understands firsthand how important high education standards are and she’s committed to making Granby’s schools best in class. Kristina is open-minded, listening to all points of view to help her make informed decisions.

Kristina has a proven track record demonstrating leadership, sensibility and a strong sense of community. We encourage all residents to support Kristina Gilton for the BOE.

Eric and Mary Myers

Support for Weber

You have been seeing signs everywhere in the past weeks for various town offices, in different fonts and colors. Signs are pieces of plastic cardboard placed on a metal stake. What’s behind the signs?

I’m here to tell you about Rosemarie Weber, whose name you may see on a sign. Who is our Board of Education Chair? Rosemarie was born and raised in New York to immigrant parents who did not speak English as their first language. She is a public high school and ivy league college graduate (UPenn). Served as an officer in the U.S. Army. Proud veteran who is always present in our schools on Nov. 11 to share her experiences as a U.S. veteran. Wife of local veterinarian and proud mom of three children. Accomplished lawyer, working mom and tireless public servant. Brilliant and no-nonsense approach to every issue she reviews. Deeply rooted in Granby as her home of choice for over 20 years. Rosemarie’s front yard will contain on any given day: a chicken coop with her flock, solar panels on the roof, gardening clogs on the porch, a fig tree, vegetables and herbs in her netted garden and a basketball net. 

We need more Rosemarie Webers on the Granby Board of Education. Watch a board meeting—she asks the tough questions others will not. She leads, she cares, she questions. Granby deserves and needs people willing to serve in these roles who understand the ultimate goal of our education system—student achievement. We need Granby Public Schools to achieve and we absolutely need Rosemarie Weber re-elected to the Granby Board of Education.

Melissa Migliaccio

Support for Lombardo

We will cast enthusiastic votes for Heather Lombardo, a candidate for the Granby Board of Education. She’s a neighbor and friend who we have come to know as being intellectually curious, a respectful listener and an interesting and comfortable person to be with.

Heather grew up with modest resources in a small, working-class Massachusetts town. She had her first job at age 15 and has never stopped working. She attended Westfield State College because she could commute from home and afford its tuition by working two jobs throughout her four years, serving pizza at a local restaurant and entering data at Mass Mutual. Immediately upon graduating, she joined the ABC affiliate in Springfield. In time, she moved on to the CBS affiliate in Hartford and, in 2000, to ESPN, where she has been since then.

Heather has thrived there and now manages a diverse team that has produced many of ESPN’s award-winning shows. When we asked her about those awards, she went out of her way to explain that, although they were given to her, they were the fruits of her team’s collaborative efforts. Except for one or two on display, she has them stored away somewhere in her basement. That perfectly reflects her modesty, her respect for the work of others and her style of diverting attention from herself so others can be celebrated. She is a team builder who leads by example and talks about the work “we” do, never seeking praise for her own efforts. People respect her for seeking out everyone’s point of view and working as best she can to find a group consensus.

At ESPN, among her friends and among the members of the Granby Agricultural Commission, which she chairs, people know that, if you want something done competently and with grace and intelligence, or if you need to work through a complex or contentious issue, call on Heather Lombardo. Isn’t that exactly the kind of person Granby needs on the board of education? We think so!

Put and Nannie Brown

Support for Barlow

Liz Harmon Barlow was the first person I met when we moved to Granby more than eight years ago, stopping to welcome us to the neighborhood as she cycled by with her 2-year-old. I found Liz to be dynamic and hilarious, and as we became close friends over the next several years, I also came to see her vast reserves of empathy and compassion. She is deeply committed to her family and friends. She is endlessly supportive and protective, while also holding others accountable for the impact of their decisions on others.

Liz has a rare ability to really understand/connect with all types of people, and meet them where they are—something I know she puts to use in her position as a social worker in a neighboring town. Her work with the special ed population gives her a unique understanding of the education system from the inside. She holds the core beliefs that every child deserves a safe learning environment, and equal access to opportunity, despite socioeconomic status or ability. I know that her knowledge and belief system will help guide her in making informed decisions to best serve the Granby school community.

I envision Liz taking on the position on the board of education with the same empathy, drive and push for accountability that she displays in her professional and personal life. Please join me in voting for Liz Barlow on Nov. 7.

Sara Lake

It is with great enthusiasm that I write this endorsement of Liz Harmon Barlow for the Granby Board of Education. Liz is smart, creative, and engaged, and having spoken with her about her ideas for our schools, it’s clear she balances vision with practicality. Liz also has a considerable vested interest, with three kids currently enrolled in the Granby Public Schools.

Liz is not just an exceptional critical thinker; she possesses a skill that many of the smartest folks are sorely lacking—the skill of listening, which seems to have fallen by the wayside these days. A strong BOE is comprised of members who listen to one another as well as to their constituents. I’m confident that Liz would do extremely well at both.

Liz is a fourth-generation Granby-ite! Her history here makes her unique among the BOE candidates. She grew up in Granby and graduated from Granby Memorial High School, as did her mother before her. Liz left town for a time to attend college and to experience living elsewhere, but she came back to settle and raise her kids here. What better evidence that she values Granby as a great place to raise and educate her kids. And with aging parents in town, Liz understands another facet of living in Granby and paying taxes here.

But Liz doesn’t just have history here—she has three kids currently in the system, who collectively have attended all the Granby schools. And another six years to go. This is an incredible asset, to possess a unique perspective on where Granby schools have been, where they are and where they could use improvement.

At the top of the list for Liz: holding onto our great teachers! Being attentive to teacher needs and conditions is a priority. Other areas of importance are better addressing concerns around bullying and enabling a climate of inclusivity. It’s my belief that a BOE with members as motivated as Liz could play an active role in addressing the areas where Granby schools can make improvements.

I’ll wrap up with a final reason that so many of us with kids in the schools would really like to see Liz on the board—her experience working in schools! For almost a decade and as licensed social worker working in special education at both the high school and the elementary level, Liz has developed an understanding of the unique social, emotional, and mental health challenges currently facing our kids.

Sarah Merrill

Support for Peling

I write to let you know of my support of the re-election of David Peling to the Granby Board of Education. I have known David, personally and professionally, for many years. In that time, I have seen him interact as a teacher, friend, coach, public servant and father.  In our current times where ideas are diverse, I trust David to be level-headed and fair. With our current fiscal instability and constraints, I trust David to be prudent and responsible. I always trust that David will be hardworking, a good listener, and a tireless advocate for the students of Granby and our education system.

Finally, I believe that David, a teacher and former school administrator, is uniquely qualified and equipped to continue to serve on the board of education. His professional training and daily personal interaction in schools—with students, teachers, administrators, and parents—gives him a keen insight and understanding of the issues the Granby schools face every day and makes him most capable and equipped to handle them.

I unequivocally support David and ask you to join me in supporting his candidacy with a vote for him on Nov. 7.

Mark J. Migliaccio

I am writing to publicly add my enthusiastic support to the many who already support Dave Peling’s reelection to the board of education this November.

I have had the amazing good fortune to be Dave’s neighbor for the past 13 years. I have come to rely on him as a friend and neighbor. I know him to be a patient listener who remains level headed and fully considers options before making decisions. He is well organized and a practical thinker who follows through on commitments.

Dave has a son at Granby Memorial High and his daughter is a recent Granby graduate but his commitment to Granby Public Schools reaches well beyond the interests of his own children. Dave cares deeply about the quality of education for all Granby students. He has and will continue to advocate fairly and avidly for students, families, teachers and administrators to achieve the best possible outcomes for Granby. 

Dave is not just a wonderful parent, husband, friend and neighbor. He has dedicated his life to the field of education as a student, teacher, administrator and coach and recently earned his doctorate in education. He has an exceptionally broad educational vision and is dedicated to helping all students succeed. He is and will continue to be an incredible asset to the board of education in Granby.

I encourage all Granby residents to reelect Dave in November.

Kate Morrissey

Support for Guarco

I endorse Michael Guarco for another term on the Granby Board of Finance. Whether you are a Republican, Democrat or Independent, over many years you have enjoyed the benefit of Mike’s excellent leadership in keeping Granby fiscally sound and property tax increases modest, all while having Granby’s fiscal condition continually strengthen and seeing its bond credit rating steadily improve during his tenure.

Please vote for Mike Guarco on Tuesday, Nov. 7.

David Schupp

It is my pleasure to enthusiastically support Mike Guarco for re-election to the Granby Board of Finance.

Mike’s tireless devotion to the town and his ability to balance the needs of the town with his commitment to fiscal discipline have served the town well.

Don Wilmot

Support for Logan

This letter is to voice my wholehearted endorsement of Monica Logan’s election to the Granby Board of Education. She is a woman committed to this Granby community. Through helping the district provide the best educational experiences, Monica is facilitating the students’ abilities to excel here at home and in the wider world. I have witnessed her commitment to the highest aspirations of neighborliness, amity and diligence as a fellow volunteer on the Granby Racial Reconciliation Steering Committee and currently in her role on the board of education.

I respect her thoughtfulness and clear thinking as well as her ability to communicate respectfully and openly. Monica is receptive to a variety of views and takes the time to learn from and collaborate with people invested in building on Granby’s strengths and acknowledging where we can do better as we move further into 21st century citizenship. Her ability to get tasks done toward this aim while working full time and guiding two young sons towards their bright futures motivates me to keep moving forward.

She will continue to bring that commitment to assisting all Granby public school students towards their bright futures as well. Granby would be so fortunate to elect Monica Logan to continue the work she has done on the board of education. Thank you for your consideration.

Cathy Watso

Support for Mike Guarco and Bill Kennedy

We endorse Mike Guarco and Bill Kennedy for the board of finance. Both of us, having served many years on the BOF with Mr. Guarco and Mr. Kennedy, can attest that during uncertain times, these gentlemen have the background and knowledge to guide Granby’s budgets. We have seen firsthand, as during the housing crisis in 2007-08, that having the balanced approach and steady hand that Mr. Guarco provides kept Granby’s General Fund balance and mill rates stable. Also of importance are the many years of service Mr. Kennedy has provided on various boards, commissions, and the board of finance, and that type of service offers insight into how Granby can look past difficult times to chart a secure path forward. Both men’s concerns for the impact of budgets on their neighbors are always paramount.

Kelly Rome and Dr. Fred Moffa

Support For Gilton, Leenders, Peling and Weber

Having served eight years on the Granby Board of Education (BOE), I can say from first-hand experience that it is extremely difficult to provide a learning environment where our kids feel safe, challenged and rewarded. And the task gets tougher every day, especially when you factor in the fiscal challenges we must constantly address.

The job requires both a willingness to always stay focused on our children’s educational needs and  the skills necessary to balance input from a diverse group of stakeholders. Our teachers, administrators, staff, students and parents all need to be heard.

Kristina Gilton, Katharine Leenders, Dave Peling and Rosemarie Weber have these skills. Collectively, their professional and personal experiences include military service, law, teaching, high school administration, social work and hundreds of hours of volunteer work for Granby kids.

More importantly, they are committed to setting aside their own political and personal ideologies to serve the needs of our school district. I know from working closely with them that this is not a commitment they take lightly. I believe this commitment is critically important when serving on our BOE.

For these reasons, I plan to vote for Kristina, Katharine, Dave and Rosemarie on Nov. 7. I hope you will too.

Mark Fiorentino

I write in support of my GOP colleagues who currently serve on the board of education and are on the ballot on Nov. 7—Rosemarie Weber, Kristina Gilton, Dave Peling and Katie Leenders. They have and will continue to put in the time and effort needed in working to keep our school system strong and solid, with a key focus on both the school system’s mission of improving student achievement and helping the children of Granby become solid thinkers and productive individuals.

It is said that the children are the future, and they will face an increasingly complex and changing world. The sound foundation and wide range of opportunities that the Granby school system provides the students is critical not only to their future, but to ours as well, as a town…as a state…and as a nation.

A critical element in the success of Granby over time as we have transitioned from a rural agricultural town to a more broad-based residential suburb—all the while retaining that traditional small town historic feel—has been the collaborative and cooperative way those elected and appointed to our local boards have worked together for the common good, irrespective of party. While they may differ in perspective, people here have generally made it a point to render their own opinion while also working to forge consensus. In my many years of service here in Granby, that spirit of having one’s say and working together for the common good has served us well…in becoming a town seen as a great place to live with a solid school system and strong property values.

While one of the opposing Democratic education candidates at a recent forum said she embraced if not welcomed conflict, I would venture that this town—and our students—would be better served by discussion—deliberation—decision-making taking place at the board level rather than bomb-throwing there or anywhere else.

In many a town one finds boards that do not work together at all…and in the occasional instance even suing one another, which is far more likely to set a town back rather than help it move forward. Looking to foster conflict strikes me as far more of a negative than a positive—plain and simple. If people want conflict, they can find all the buffoonery and theatrics they want just by switching on the TV.

Mike Guarco

Support for Democratic candidates

On Nov. 7, the voters of Granby have the opportunity to affect the direction of our town. Yet, sadly, municipal elections are often overlooked and voter turnout is always low. This year, I urge everyone to go vote—and register now if you haven’t already. Big decisions will face all of our elected boards over the coming months and years, everything from school building projects, property tax rates, and how we respond to developers in town.

I hope that everyone will vote on Nov. 7 and I’m making a special appeal that you vote for the Democratic candidates on Row A. They come with a unique skill set and professional experience that make them ideal to sit on our town boards making the decisions about our future.

On the board of education, the three women endorsed by the Democratic town committee are all accomplished, knowledgeable, and skilled parents of kids currently in the schools. Monica Logan, an incumbent, has spent years in mediation and negotiation as an attorney. We need her in our union negotiations. Heather Lombardo is award-winning journalist with ESPN that will bring better communication to the board as well as her style of leading with empathy and leaning in to data. Liz Harmon Barlow is a fourth generation Granby resident and school social worker that will help Granby meet the mental health needs of our kids.

On the planning and zoning commission, Bob Lavitt is an attorney with more than 35 years of experience, five years as the Planning Board attorney in West Orange, NJ.

These are the races that are competitive this year. If you’d like to learn more about the Democratic slate, there is more information about each on our website at granbydems.org.

Lynn Guelzow

Editor’s Note: Candidate biographies and goals may be found starting on page 19.