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John McKenna

Oct 5, 2023

Over piles of pasta and meatballs on Wednesday, Republican candidates in Litchfield met the public, promoted themselves and rallied behind the GOP effort to make headway in the November election.

The gathering at the Litchfield firehouse drew a large and hungry crowd that was pleased by the pasta, meatball and sauce made by GOP supporter Patty Dauten with help from her husband, Peter.

First selectman Norman Sauer, who is looking to unseat two-term incumbent First Selectman Denise Raap, headlined the event along with his running mates for the Board of Selectmen, John Bongiorno and Daniel Morosani.

After serving patrons, Sauer repeated his campaign pledges of addressing traffic problems, crime and spending, if elected.

“I understand numbers, the law and human resources,” Sauer said in promoting his qualifications.

The one-tenth of 1 mill tax decrease taxpayers saw this year was a pittance, according to Sauer, who said municipal debt coming off the books this year should have resulted in a tax cut of up to sixth-tenths of one mill.

“People are really hurting,” Sauer said of the current economic conditions. “They really could have used that money. We have to put money back into their pockets instead of overtaxing them.”

Republican Town Committee Chairman and Board of Finance candidate Stephan Krucker, comparing the GOP and Democratic slates, said Republicans have the advantage.

“We have a great selection of candidates, but when you look at their slate and candidates, there’s not a lot of energy or life,” Krucker said. “We need people in office who are going to energize the town and work for all.”

Bongiorno, with help from Tax Collector Helen Bunnell, tackled the issue of the town having an assessor who works one day a week at a pay rate of $1,000 a day. The part-time arrangement of the past two years is due to a lack of qualified assessors showing interest in the vacant Litchfield job.

“Revaluation is coming up next year and with one person there one day a week, that’s not going to be beneficial to taxpayers,” Bongiorno said. “We are not in a good position and it has to be evaluated and fixed.”

Bunnell, whose office works hand in hand with the assessor’s office, said the current assessor, Chris Kelsey, is highly qualified but by only working one day a week can’t put his skills to full use.

“It has been very difficult to work under the current situation,” Bunnell said. “I never had the problems before that I’m facing now. We need a full-time assessor, or at least one who works two or three days a week, to get us through revaluation, which I’m scared to death about.”

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