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Letter to the Editor: Why a former Democrat is on the Republican ticket

The views stated here are those of the individual contributor and do not necessarily reflect those of the staff of HaddamNow.com.

In 1980, my wife and I decided to leave Meriden and move to Haddam. Over the past 35 years, we raised our daughter here; and we both got involved in local government and in a variety of civic organizations. When we arrived in Haddam, we had no strong ties to either political party, but the Haddam Democrats recruited both my wife and I, and we got involved. We made many friends during this time – friends in both parties. Haddam is a place where people vote for the person, rather than the party.

Two years ago, I supported Melissa Schlag for First Selectman. She said all of the right things, and we knew that we needed a first selectman who would be able to work with all of the various constituencies – Melissa seemed to fit the bill. However, over a period of two years, I saw Melissa alienate many citizens, volunteers, town employees, and business people in town.

This summer, I felt that I could not run on the same ticket as her, so I advised the Democratic Town Committee of this. I approached my friends on the Republican Town Committee and asked them if they would support my candidacy if I became an unaffiliated voter – they embraced the idea. It was tough for me to leave the Haddam Democratic Town Committee, having been a member for about 25 years, but I made the decision to change.

In talking to folks in town over the past week or two, it seems like many people think Lizz Milardo and the rest of us who are running on the Republican ticket have turned this campaign in a negative direction. Please understand that we are simply trying to advise citizens in town of the misinformation being propagated by Melissa and her followers. We are not in the position that she is to have the Haddam Bulletin on our side. The only way we have to get out the truth is through mailings, social media, and news website like Haddam Now.

It would take many pages to detail all of the mis-information that has been printed in the past months, but I will refer to a few mis-statements that you need to know about:

  • In last month’s edition of the Haddam Bulletin, Melissa claims to have brought in $1.7 million in grants. We don’t know where this number came from.
  • Melissa also claims to have reduced the town budget by $600K in her first year. While it is true that she submitted a “selectmen’s requested” budget that was $600K lower than the previous year, she asked us immediately to add over $200K to fund a variety of initiative (which we agreed with). Also, at the town budget hearing, the citizens spoke in favor of us re-instating funds for the Fire Department, Ambulance, and Haddam Public Health.
  • In today’s “Truth Plain and Simple” post card, she claims that “All emergency services were fully funded by the board of selectmen”. In 2014 – 2015, she submitted a budget that cut $30K from the fire budget and for 2015 – 2016 cut $80K from the fire budget. During the budget process in the spring of 2014, the volunteer fire fighters threated to ALL RESIGN because they had such a difficult time working with Melissa. In each of the previous two budgets, the selectmen cut the Haddam Volunteer Ambulance budget request by about $30K each year. In all of these cases, the Board of Finance listened to the voters at the budget hearing, then worked with these volunteer agencies to reach a workable number.
  • Melissa has also claimed that “her diligence resulted in the lowest budget in six years”. While it is true that the general government portion of the Haddam budget has been basically “flat” for 5 years, this is due to the hard work of many people (individual department heads, various boards and commissions, and ultimately the vote at the Town Meeting.) No single person should not be taking credit for this – the final budget represents the wishes and votes of many constituents.

As a final thought, I want to remind everyone that town government has a system of checks and balances. It is important that the BOARD of Selectmen (three people), the BOARD of Finance (six people), and the citizens of the town (thousands of people) discuss issues in an open and collaborative atmosphere and be able to practice the art of COMPROMISE. That isn’t currently happening in Haddam.

Dave Kapitulik

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2 Responses to Letter to the Editor: Why a former Democrat is on the Republican ticket

  1. Peter Arseneault

    November 1, 2015 at 8:01 am

    Thanks Dave for having the courage to tell it like it is. I just hope there are people out there listening.

  2. Ferris Bromley

    November 1, 2015 at 4:09 pm

    Excellent Dave !!!Thank you