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John McKenna

Sep 29, 2023

Norman Sauer, the Republican challenger for first selectman, would make volunteer recruitment and retention one of his three priorities if elected Nov. 7, he told a crowd of 40 at a GOP candidate forum Thursday at the Bantam firehouse.

Sauer, who is facing Democratic First Selectman Denise Raap, outlined his strategy for traffic safety and police coverage in a previous forum. On Thursday, Sauer unveiled his plan for the volunteer front, noting three of Litchfield’s four volunteer fire companies – Litchfield, East Litchfield and Northfield – are short-staffed.

“When elected, in my first 30 days, I will assemble a task force to aid our fire departments in recruiting and retaining volunteers,” Sauer said. “The task force will evaluate ways to campaign for new volunteers and look to offer additional incentives.”

Litchfield offers a pension program for its volunteers, but Sauer said it doesn’t provide enough of a financial reward for service. Tax abatements and group insurance benefits should be explored, he said.

Joining Sauer at the forum were his running mates for selectmen, Daniel Morosani and John Bongiorno. Morosani, a volunteer firefighter in Northfield, is part of a committee of volunteer firefighters looking at potential ways to recruit and retain more volunteers.

“We are in a service crisis and need to respond to it,” Morosani said. “We need more incentives for our first responders.”

Morosani’s committee is working on recommendations for the Board of Selectmen to consider.

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