With Tuesday’s passing of the state budget, the Mansfield Town Council Candidates’ Forum Thursday focused on the town’s economic issues, as well as policy pertaining to off-campus students.
Though the recent budget approved by the state legislature would not inflict any cuts on the town, according to Mayor Paul Shapiro, economy was still at the forefront of discussion for the candidates.
Major discourse surrounded the issue of money handling within the town.
The Republican Party, represented by David Freudmann, a UConn graduate, Charles Ausburger and Ric Hossack, believed that the growing government was past its carrying capacity and that taxes should be lowered to better accommodate the townspeople, particularly senior citizens.
“My answer for how we can best help the most seniors is similar to my answer about how to make Mansfield a town where working families want to live,” Freudmann said. “Seniors are often on a fixed income and when the government keeps getting bigger and bigger, seniors can see themselves priced out of their own homes.”
The Democratic Party, represented by Peter Kochenburger, a four-year town councilman and Associate Clinical Professor of Law at UConn, Councilwoman Toni Moran, Councilman Ben Shaiken, Deputy Mayor William Ryan and Shapiro, voiced that a strong commitment to development is vitally important to the town’s future.
“During times of tremendous fiscal crisis, as well as cuts, we either avoided raises of taxes at all, or raised it minimally,” Kochenburger said. “We kept our services and particularly kept our schools.”
In addition to economic discourse, the discussion also turned to UConn’s role in Mansfield.
When confronted with issues regarding the town’s relationship with UConn’s on-campus and off-campus parties, the Democratic Party remained hopeful for the future.
“We’ve done a number of things to reduce the problem of off-campus housing and the parties that make the problem,” Ryan said. “I would encourage (the residents of Mansfield) also to think of the good things that UConn does bring to our community.”
The Republican Party was focused on creating stricter laws regarding off-campus housing.
“Our neighborhoods are crowded with off-campus housing because we have allowed it to happen,” Hossack said. “It’s not right.”
Attendees to the event, which included Mansfield residents and UConn students, cited that the forum was a useful outlet for information about the candidates.
“It’s nice to see that people are passionate about why they’re running and what they’re running for,” Anna Rasmussen, a first-semester finance major, said.
Rasmussen attended the event with fellow students from the UConn Republican Club.
Mayor Shapiro closed the night with a final remark looking to the future of political discussion within the town.
“I’m committed to civil discourse even though we disagree,” Shapiro said. “Without regard to party affiliation or lack of party affiliation, I like civil people and civil service, period.”
Collin Sitz is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at email@example.com.