On Defending the Work of Republicans

It must be early November, just after municipal elections—or May just after the budget referendum, or February at the start of budget season, or August, or whenever—because the voice of the grumpy taxpayer has again been heard in our fair rural paradise. (Yes, I’m totally ripping off the opening of Rebecca Solnit’s latest and greatest article. Go read it if you haven’t already!)

doughnut-3989086_1920The Facebook discussion began innocently enough. “They should put a dunking [sic] doughnuts [sic!] on the corner across from Bolton motors.”

My first thought was, “Who’s ‘they’?” Why not you? Nothing is stopping any of us from bringing economic development to Bolton (other than access to capital, lack of time to navigate the complexities of starting and running a business, a natural aversion to risk, limited stock of developable land, and a hundred other factors). But, sure, “they” should do more to help expand Bolton’s tax base.

bird-3888976_1920Predictably, the initial comment spurred an argument about development. Even more predictably, the argument was peppered with complaints that Bolton “won’t allow” drive-throughs, that Bolton is unfriendly to business, and that the powers-that-be won’t “let businesses move into Bolton.”

That last claim caught my attention. I’ve served on Planning and Zoning (PZC) for the past six years, and I can’t think of a single application from a new business that has been denied during that time.

PZC has approved a major expansion of the Simoniz plant, a major renovation of the former Barrels, Boxes and More building (now owned by Able Coil), renovation of Dean Cabinetry’s new headquarters on West Street, a new dental office, an office building (as yet unbuilt) on Loomis St., a barber shop and hair salon, a Subway, and several home-based businesses, among others.

balloons-3227581_1920The commission also listened to public feedback and changed the town’s regulations to allow light manufacturing in business zones, to permit drive-throughs, and to ease fire-protection regulations that business owners didn’t like.

Interestingly, when changes to the drive-through and fire-protection regulations were being considered, numerous businesspeople assured the commission that the changes would result in an almost immediate uptick in the number of businesses moving to Bolton.

The commission changed the fire-protection regulations five years ago.

During the public hearings on the drive-through regulation, the commission heard from two or three people who claimed already to be in discussions to bring a major donut/coffee franchise to Bolton.

The drive-through regulation was changed four years ago.

After I shared these facts, a follow-up comment stated what was apparently the real problem: “the people of Bolton don’t care about high taxes, they keep voting the same party that loves taxes.”

Hah! They’re right. Sort of. Just not in the way they think.

crown-2924543_1920Bolton has been a Republican town for most of the last thirty years (and probably far longer). Republicans had a 5-2 majority on PZC until two years ago when it became 4-3. Same for the Board of Finance. There’s probably been no more than four years out of the last 40 that Republicans didn’t control the Board of Selectmen. When Sandy Pierog was elected First Selectman two years ago, she was the first Democrat to hold the seat in 28 years (in fact, Sandy was also the last Democrat to hold the seat—in the mid-1980s).

I realized then the irony of what I’d been trying to do. I’m a Democrat, but there I was defending the performance of decades of Republican-dominated boards.


Call me old-fashioned, but I value facts and the truth. I also want to see the town succeed. Calling Bolton unfriendly to business when that’s demonstrably not true only perpetuates the myth that Bolton is unfriendly to business. Guess what? If businesses think Bolton is unfriendly to businesses, they’ll be reluctant to look at us.

But I also wonder why so few of my colleagues across the aisle step in to counter the falsehoods, misstatements, and negativity about the boards they’ve controlled for so long and about the policies that have been pursued under their control and leadership.

question-mark-1019922_1920Why is it left to Democrats to promote and try to pass the budget each year? (If anyone can point me to Republican-led efforts to support the annual budget referendum, I’d be delighted to review them.) Why is it almost always Democrats who speak up when people are trashing our zoning regulations and development policies?

It’s not like most budgets and policies are narrowly approved by the boards and commissions that produce them.

PZC votes are almost always unanimous, for example. On the Board of Education, I’ve heard several of my Republican colleagues wonder aloud why more people in town don’t support the budget. After putting in the hours (and hours) of study and public hearings that probe every nook and cranny of the budget, seeking explanations for even the smallest line-item increases, they get it. They see that the budget is reasonable and worthy of adoption.

When people of good intent work together to examine issues in a sober, deliberative fashion, setting aside the ideological dictates of their parties, they almost always come to consensus.

Somehow that consensus then gets twisted and reinterpreted by at least some observers (who generally seem to fall on the “conservative” side of things) as “Democratic,” presumably because it doesn’t fit neatly within the official Republican view of how the world is supposed to work.

Just because reality doesn’t conform to Republicanism doesn’t make it “Democratic,” though. And, again, the people who in good faith serve on our town’s various boards and commissions, when given the chance to dig into issues, to hear competing viewpoints, to grapple with the complexity of the real world, usually find ways to come together.

If the point where we (that is, those of us who are elected officials) meet happens to fall in what others perceive as “Democratic” space—I prefer to call it “reality”—well, maybe that’s saying something.

—Christopher Davey, chairman of the Bolton Democratic Town Committee

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For Your Consideration, 2019

On Tuesday, if history is a guide, about 1,500 of our friends and neighbors will turn out to vote in Bolton’s municipal elections. Will you be one of them?

Local elections don’t get as much love as statewide and presidential elections (Bolton’s turnout nearly doubles for the latter). That’s a pity, since our voice as electors is so much more amplified in local elections.

This year, the Bolton Democrats are fielding another highly qualified team of candidates.


Kim Miller, Sandra Pierog, and Bob DePietro

Board of Selectmen

At the head of the ticket, current First Selectman Sandra Pierog is running unopposed for a second term. The Republicans’ unwillingness to challenge Sandy is testament to her success in bringing greater transparency, accountability, and accessibility to Town Hall and the office of First Selectmen. If you’ve had any dealings with Town Hall since the last election, you’ll have noticed the differences in tone, communication, and helpfulness.

Sandy and her fellow Board of Selectmen candidates, Kim Miller and Bob DePietro, will continue to seek improvements and find new solutions to help move Bolton forward.



Rhea Klein, Marilee Manning, and Anne Decker

Board of Education

At the Board of Education, Anne Decker has already proved to be tremendous addition in the 14 months since she was appointed to the seat Kate Gallé vacated in 2018. Anne is running unopposed to finish out the last two years of Kate’s term.

Joining Anne on the ballot are Rhea Klein and Marilee Manning. Rhea is a former teacher with a doctorate in special education. Marilee is a current alternate member of the Planning and Zoning Commission and a former long-time substitute teacher in the Bolton Public Schools. Their knowledge and experience will make them invaluable additions to the board.



Emily Bradley and Kristen Gourley

Board of Finance

Current Board of Finance vice chair Emily Bradley is running for reelection, joined by first-time candidate Kristen Gourley. Emily brings years of experience managing budgets, both as a former associate partner with Accenture and as treasurer of multiple local nonprofits. Kristen brings an MBA and extensive business experience in retail and pharmaceutical management.



Letrisa Miller, Anne Decker, Adam Teller, and Arlene Fiano

Planning and Zoning Commission & Zoning Board of Appeals

P&Z chairman Adam Teller and member Arlene Fiano are both seeking reelection. They are joined by former P&Z member Jeff Scala, who is seeking to rejoin the board after a two-year absence (and a switch in party membership).

Adam brings an attorney’s knowledge of the law. Arlene, well-known for her work with the Heritage Farm Commission, brings a landscape architect’s eye and a deep understanding of Bolton’s history. Jeff, a civil engineer, brings a level of technical expertise that has been lacking on the commission for the past two years.

ZBA candidates Anne Decker and Letrisa Miller are currently Alternate Members of the ZBA. Anne is also a Board of Education member running for reelection. Letrisa is a veterinarian and small business owner.


Board of Assessment Appeals, Town Moderator

We couldn’t hope to find a more qualified candidate for this board. Mary Terhune is a municipal assessor and property appraiser with nearly three decades of experience.

Adam Teller is running for Town Moderator. As chair of the Planning and Zoning Commission, he runs meetings efficiently and always ensures that every voice can be heard. He would ensure that town meetings function just as smoothly.


The Democratic Slate: Adam Teller, Mary Terhune, Letrisa Miller, Emily Bradley, Bob DePietro, Sandra Pierog, Kim Miller, Marilee Manning, Rhea Klein, Anne Decker, Arlene Fiano (missing: Kristen Gourley, Jeff Scala)

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Local Elections Are Where Your Voice Is Loudest!

On Tuesday, November 5, get out and vote! Local elections are the most important elections you can vote in.


Because your voice is loudest at the local level. Yes, the people we elect to state and federal office help make decisions that will have a huge impact on our lives. But so do our local officials, and the power of our vote is far more amplified at the local level.

If every one of Bolton’s registered voters voted, we’d each have about a 1/3,300 (0.0003) share in electing the people who will determine the property taxes we pay, set the regulations that govern what we can do with your land, set the policies and curriculum for the schools our children attend, ensure we have clear, safe roads to drive on and well-maintained recreation facilities to help our families stay active and healthy, and who make decisions about so many other areas of our daily life.

hands-1768845_1920In reality, turnout in Bolton for municipal elections tends to be around 45 percent, so each voter’s “share” is closer to 1/1,500 (0.0006).

Either way, our voice carries far more weight at the local level than it does in state or national elections, which are the ones people tend to turn out for.

For example, in 2018, 78.5 percent of Bolton voters cast a ballot, and 88 percent voted in the 2016 presidential election—almost double the typical turnout for municipal elections.

But if you voted in the 2018 2nd Congressional District race (Joe Courtney’s seat), you were one of about 300,000, so your share of the vote was 200 times less than your share of the municipal vote.

If you voted in the 2018 U.S. Senate race (Chris Murphy’s seat), you were one of nearly 1.39 million, so your share of the vote was nearly 1,000 times less than your share of the municipal vote.

In the last presidential election, you would have been one of an estimated 138.8 million, making your share of the vote nearly 100,000 times less than your share of the municipal vote.vote-146962

Your vote literally counts more as elections get more local. Voting is your constitutional right. Don’t neglect it!

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Five Questions with Emily Bradley

Emily Bradley, current cochair of the Board of Finance, is up for reelection on November 5. She brings a wealth of experience from both the corporate and nonprofit worlds. We recently asked her a few questions.

What town groups or activities have you been involved in?

Bolton PTA: Bolton Center School Book Fair (chair), Bolton Center School Career Day (cochair)
BCS and BHS substitute teacher
Bolton Women’s Club, member and former treasurer
Bolton Scholarship Fund, treasurer
Bolton Land Trust, member
Manchester Symphony Orchestra and Chorale, former board member and treasurer
Bolton Board of Finance

What do you think is the biggest single issue facing the town?

State funding continues to get reduced. Balancing the level of  town services and education with the taxes we pay to support these services. I think the town needs to be creative with ways to operate most effectively and look for ways to keep our town moving forward with conservative responsible spending.

How do you think your life experience will help you serve the town?

I am a retired consultant who managed large budgets. I understand the balance of getting things done with the cost of doing them.

What’s something about yourself that others might be surprised to know?

Most people won’t be surprised to know that I enjoy playing tennis, but they might not know that this year I worked with a couple other towns to start a middle school tennis team. The kids are learning how to play the game and have had the opportunity to play against other towns. It’s a new program that I hope will continue.

I also love to cook and and try out new recipes on my unsuspecting friends.

What do you love most about Bolton?

I love the fact that I am surrounded by trees, a river, and wildlife, but still only 15–20 minutes away from Hartford, museums, stores, and restaurants.

Board of Finance cochair Emily Bradley

Emily Bradley

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Five Questions with Adam Teller

Adam Teller, a longtime member of Bolton’s Planning and Zoning Commission, was unanimously elected chairman of the commission two years ago. He’s up for reelection this year. Recently, we asked Adam to answer a few of our questions. Here’s what he had to say.

How many years have you lived in Bolton?

All together, about 30 years—10 years before going away to college, and then I moved back to town 20 years ago.

What town groups or activities have you been involved in?

I have been a board member and president of the HCA Montessori School; a member and chair of the Planning and Zoning Commission; member of the Bolton Land Trust; member, vice chair, and former chair of the Democratic Town Committee.

I graduated from BHS, where I played soccer and baseball, and my kids have participated in rec baseball, soccer, and softball and both graduated from BHS, where they played baseball and volleyball.

What do you think is the biggest single issue facing the town?

Providing good town services, facilities, and quality of life with the resources we have.

How do you think your life experience will help you serve the town?

I have an engineering background, but my professional life has been as an attorney helping individuals and small businesses, usually in finding solutions to their conflicts with each other or with larger entities or the government. I’ve been a partner in a small business and known what it is to find health insurance for employees and still meet a payroll. I’ve raised children and been part of a large and varied family.

In both my personal and professional life, I’ve learned the value of integrity and justice, but also patience, kindness, and compassion. I think my life experiences have given me analytical and personal skills to learn about problems, identify and test possible solutions, and gather people toward those solutions while not losing touch with the values that (I hope) we share as a community.

What do you love most about Bolton?

I love that Bolton is a place where parents know their children’s friends and those friends’ parents and grandparents, and people still try to be welcoming and accepting of each other. I also like that Bolton still has a connection to the natural world.

P&Z chair Adam Teller with Heritage Farm barn in background

P&Z chair Adam Teller

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Bolton Democrat of the Year

Thank you to everyone who attended today’s Bolton Democrat of the Year celebration honoring Bolton First Selectman Sandra Pierog.


Lieutenant Governor Susan Bysiewicz with Sandy Pierog and Sandy’s granddaughters

Connecticut’s Lieutenant Governor Susan Bysiewicz was on hand to present Sandy with proclamations from the governor’s and lieutenant governor’s offices. Senator Steve Cassano presented a proclamation on behalf of the Connecticut State Legislature. Finally, Secretary of State Denise Merrill, Treasurer Sean Wooden, Comptroller Kevin Lembo, Attorney General William Tong, and Senators Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy also sent proclamations.

On behalf of the Bolton DTC, chairperson Christopher Davey presented Sandy with the Franklin Delany Lifetime Achievement Award. The award proclamation read:


The Bolton Democratic Town Committee is pleased to award
the Franklin Delany Lifetime Achievement Award to

Sandra W. Pierog

This award is given in recognition of your years of dedicated service to the Town of Bolton, including multiple terms as First Selectman and Selectman, as Vice Chair of the Board of Finance, as Chair of the Bolton Heritage Farm Commission, and as a member of the Senior Citizens Commission. In addition, you have generously supported numerous town-wide organizations, including the Bolton Historical Society, the Bolton Land Trust, the Bolton Women’s Club, Friends of the Rose Farm, and the Bolton Democratic Town Committee. Your efforts on behalf of the Bolton community have not gone unnoticed. Today we pause to say thank you and to applaud your commitment to making Bolton better for all.

Congratulations, Sandy, and thank you again for all you do on behalf of our great town!

* * *


Sandy Pierog and John Toomey look on as Senator Steve Cassano speaks.


DTC emeritus chairperson John Toomey stepped away from his emcee duties to offer refreshment to Pat Morianos and Senator Steve Cassano. All three are former recipients of the Bolton Democrat of the Year award. 


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Democrat of the Year Celebration

Please join us on September 22 from 1:30 pm, as we honor Bolton First Selectman Sandy Pierog with the Franklin Delany Lifetime Achievement Award.


Tickets for the event are $40 per person. Please click for full details and a contribution form.

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Congratulations, Candidates!

Bolton Democrats held a caucus last night to endorse candidates for the fall municipal election. Congratulations to the following candidates!

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Caucus date set

Bolton Democrats will caucus on Thursday, July 18, at 8 pm, in the Notch Road Municipal Center (Room 9) to select a slate of candidates for the November 2019 municipal election. The monthly Bolton Democratic Town Committee meeting will precede the caucus at 7:30.

All registered Democrats in Bolton are invited to participate in the caucus. BDTC meetings are always open to registered Democrats.

If you are considering a run for office this fall, or if you’d like to find out more about what’s involved in running, please contact us! Every elected board in town has openings this year.

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Get to Know Jim Dwire

BDTC Get to Know-Jim-Dwire

What’s the farthest you’ve been from Bolton, and why were you there?
Paris, just a week’s vacation.

What’s the most useful thing you own?
An electric chain saw. You asked!! We all live in a forest!

If you didn’t have to sleep, what would you do with your extra time?
Play my piano.

Lightning round:

Dog or cat? Cat
Coffee or tea? Neither
Back roads or highways? Back roads
Pro sports team? Nah! But Red Sox comes closest.
Last restaurant you went to? Subway
Favorite spot in Bolton? My back yard with barbecue.

Jim is a member of the Bolton Democratic Town Committee and is the Registrar of Voters.—Ed.

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