Last week’s Election Day brought many new members to the Mansfield town council. Those new members were sworn in at this week’s meeting. One of those new members, Caitlin Briody also made history with her election. Briody is the first petitioning candidate to earn a seat on the town council since Mansfield started its council-management system back in 1973.
Briody graduated from UConn in the spring of 2017 and currently works at the United Way of Southeastern Connecticut. She has also become a large part of the Mansfield community by becoming the drama director at E.O. Smith High School. Briody ran on a platform of bringing the UConn and Mansfield communities together, continuing economic growth, improving Mansfield schools and working on environmental issues.
Briody was not the only person with a connection to UConn who ran for a seat on the town council. Two UConn students, Haley Hinton and Colin Mortimer, made headlines by running for a seat as the first two full-time students. While they did not win a seat, they did receive votes in District 1 showing that students in the area do actually care about what is going on.
The relationship between UConn and the town of Mansfield is not good. Students think town residents only view them as a scapegoat for all the things that are going wrong in town. Conversely, Mansfield residents feel UConn is overstepping its bounds and not doing enough to keep students on campus. These mindsets will not help the community come together and will only lead to harsher penalties for both sides. Neither side in this debate can afford to view the other as an enemy. Mansfield and UConn only do well when they work together.
It is, however, refreshing to see a local representative understand complexities that come with balancing relations between both the university and the town. Briody talked about wanting to foster a sense of community and help the small town come together. If her platform is anything to go by, she is the change that Mansfield needs.