On Sept. 10, Democratic voters will have the opportunity to vote in a primary for candidates running for Planning and Zoning.
- The choice seems obvious to me. Stephen Devoto is the most qualified candidate, and the only candidate who will receive my vote, and here’s why. Stephen Devoto is an eminently qualified candidate. He is intelligent, articulate, fair, curious, even-handed and an independent thinker. He has been involved in Middletown land-use issues for more than five years, as a reporter for the Middletown Eye, and as an officer, and active member of the Westfield Residents Association. He fought against the placement of an Army Reserve Training Center in Maromas, and worked on a committee to have it properly placed in the West end of town. As far as I’m concerned, he’s the only candidate worth voting for.
- Stephen Devoto has attended nearly every Planning and Zoning meeting in the last five years, along with regular attendance at Inland Wetland and Design Review meetings. He’s done so in his capacity as a volunteer correspondent for the Middletown Eye. So, he has paid attention, understood the issues, and explained them clearly to his reading audience. One of his opponents, Dan Russo, a sitting member of the P&Z, has missed nearly 40 percent of the meetings he should have attended during his term. Devoto’s other opponents, Rob Blanchard and Paul Turenne, have reportedly never attended a Planning and Zoning Commission meeting. I would not vote for anyone with such a dismal attendance record, or anyone who displayed so little interest in a Commission before attempting a run.
- Dan Russo attempted to insult Devoto by calling him “a Republican” in the Hartford Courant. There are many Republicans in town for whom I have great respect. So I don’t understand the insult. Ironically, Russo himself abandoned the Democratic party when, as Democratic Town Committee Chair, he threw his support to Joe Lieberman in a Senate race when Lieberman ran against the official Democratic candidate Ned Lamont.
- Stephen Devoto has demonstrated his ability to work hard. He has voluntarily attended five years of P&Z meetings to help you, the concerned citizens of Middletown, keep informed. He worked tirelessly to be sure the Army Reserve Training Center was built in the appropriate place in town. And in just two weeks this summer, he spoke to several hundred residents to gather 700 signatures to ensure his ability to run in a primary for Planning and Zoning.
- The Democratic Town Committee rejected Devoto for the official slate of candidates. For some this would be reason enough to vote for Devoto, since he was rejected for not being a party insider, willing to vote lockstep with Democratic colleagues. It’s puzzling why the DTC would not want the most qualified candidates on the ticket. What are they afraid of? What plans do they have that an independent thinker might upset?
- Stephen Devoto has suggested a debate of the issues with the other candidates. He has offered to debate them in any setting. However, all of the other candidates refuse to debate. In fact Blanchard called the suggested debate “a cheap publicity stunt.” Why would talking about important land-use issues in public be a publicity stunt? One wonders why candidates so eager to run for office don’t want to talk about important issues in a public setting.
- Stephen Devoto worked diligently to oppose a zone change that could allow a powerful developer to destroy historic homes in a historic district and build a stripmall on Washington Street. As a member of the P&Z, Dan Russo argued strongly in favor to the zone change, and voted for it. The zone change was written by the developer who wants to build the strip mall.
- I’m voting only for Stephen Devoto because planning in Middletown is too important to leave to developers.
- I’m voting only for Stephen Devoto because a “bullet vote” for him denies additional votes for his opponents. While voters are allowed to vote for three candidates (four candidates are running), they are not required to do so. A single vote for Devoto increases his tally without increasing the tally of his opponents.
- Stephen Devoto is an independent thinker. His rejection by the DTC is proof of this. Devoto will not be pressured by party or politics to vote on a planning or zoning matter. He will consider the situation and the code, and what’s best for Middletown, and then vote for what’s right. In my opinion, Devoto espouses democratic values. He’s a lifelong Democrat (he’s donated to Democratic campaigns, campaigned for Democratic candidates, and voted Democratic since he registered decades ago), and he believes in diversity of thought, the good of all citizens (not just the powerful) and what’s best for the community.
On Sept. 10, I will be voting only for Stephen Devoto. If you care about the future of planning in Middletown, I urge you to do the same.
Ed McKeon, Middletown, Board of Education Secretary