Peter Kochenburger, an incumbent Democratic candidate for Mansfield Town Council, has been serving in his position for ten years. He is running to retain his seat because he wants to continue to make change for Mansfield.
“The reason I’m running now is in some ways the same as it was when I first ran. It’s a way to give back to the community, one that I care very much about,” Kochenburger said. “I think everyone should do some form of service. Whether it’s coaching a Little League team, or serving any number of ways in a volunteer, this is a way to give back.”
Kochenburger said that his first duty as a Town Council member is to sustain what is already being done.
“Any legislative body, which is what the town council is, is a lot about what we’re gonna do every year.” Kochenburger said. “We have the budget, and we have a lot to do with the budget. We have personnel searches. We deal with issues with the university, Storrs downtown, economic development, all of those things.”
However, there are changes that Kochenburger is looking forward to. Specifically, he’s interested in challenging some of the semantics in the town charter.
“I think we need to revisit the town charter,” said Kochenburger. “In general, ours is very good. But, we’re required to look at it every number of years, and there’s a couple of things in it that we need to press.”
Kochenburger first discussed his issue with the idea of a town meeting in the charter.
“Once the budget is approved, the only way it can be taken to referendum is a live town meeting,” Kochenburger said. “I love that idea, it’s very historical, it has a lot of benefits to it, but the representation has been dropping significantly. I don’t think we can think any more at a town meeting of 150 people is sufficiently representative.”
Kochenburger also addressed his issue with a unique Mansfield law that requires 15% of all registered voters to vote for a referendum to pass.
“There are so many referendums where you have to have 15% of the people not only voting yes, but of the voters voting. I believe that’s highly unique in Connecticut,” Kochenburger said. “It’s certainly unusual. It’s a problem, since many of our voters are students and they cannot come out for municipal elections.”
Despite the fact that low voter attendance by students can be occasionally restrictive, Kochenburger recognized the importance of student voters.
“We need to make sure that when we do state elections, we’re not, intentionally or not, disenfranchising students,” Kochenburger said. “Once they’ve decided that Mansfield’s the town they want to vote in, they’re just as valuable and important a voter as anyone else.”
As for what he’s looking forward to, Kochenburger mentioned the One School referendum.
“The biggest thing, and it has to pass a referendum, would be the proposal to build one new school and tear down one of the three existing grammar schools,” Kochenburger said. “That’s the biggest thing going on in town, and it’ll be before the voters [on Election Day.].”
Grace McFadden is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.