Meet the Candidates: Up Close and Personal
On July 21, 2011, Washington Democrats, meeting in caucus in Town Hall, endorsed a slate of candidates, headed by independent, Wayne Hileman, for First Selectman and Susan Luckett Jahnke for Selectman.
“We’re gratified with the results of the Democratic caucus,” says WDTC co-chair Andy Shapiro. “The Democrats have nominated a slate of highly qualified candidates. We’re looking forward to a vigorous debate with our Republican opponents over the challenges facing Washington and how they should be addressed.”
Here is the full roster of Democratic candidates for the November 8th election:
Susan Luckett Jahnke: Selectman
Susan moved to Washington when she was 12, having already spent many summers here on her grandfather’s Whittlesey Road farm. She graduated from Washington High School and got an undergraduate degree in biochemistry.
With her late husband, Susan has lived and worked around the world, chiefly as a toxicologist, in England, Germany, Kuwait, and Bahrain. She returned to live in Washington, where she has been treasurer for the First Congregational Church of Washington for over eight years. She is completing her fourth year as a full member of the Washington Planning Commission.
“I’ve worked closely and productively with people from very different backgrounds and cultures. I think it’s made me open minded. Working as I have in toxicology and accounting has sharpened my attention to detail—a skill that will serve me well on the Board of Selectmen. I’ve lived in five different countries only to discover that this is exactly where I want to be. I love this town!”
Nicolas N. Solley: Zoning Commission, Full Member
A Washington native, Nick has witnessed the Town’s transformation from a dairy-farming center to a haven for second homes. He understands how a town grows and changes, as well as struggles to preserve its rural character.
Nick will bring to the Zoning Commission the benefit of his long experience in wise land use: he was Washington’s Zoning Enforcement Officer from 1974 to 1991; and for nearly ten years (1991-2001), Nick was Chairman of the Zoning Board of Appeals. (Of course, during the last ten years, Nick has served as a Town Selectman.)
In his 27 years of hands-on land-use work, Nick has visited almost every land parcel in Town. He’s talked to and worked with property owners and has a unique appreciation of their needs and hardships as they confront the strictures of Zoning. He knows how to balance the competing needs of neighbors in order to achieve a town-wide sense of harmony.
“Washington zoning is at a crossroads. Will it continue to prevent greater housing density, especially around its village centers? Or will it seek to accommodate the unmet needs of downsizing seniors and young adults, who simply cannot find adequate local housing? How zoning resolves challenges like these will ultimately determine whether we maintain a diverse citizenry—young and old, workers and retired. It goes to the heart of who we are as a community.”
Ralph Averill: Zoning Commission, Full Member
Ralph’s Washington roots run deep. He is the ninth generation of the Averill family to live here. (The next time you pick apples at the Averill orchard, up on Baldwin Hill, notice the sign on the weathered barn: “Averill Homestead Founded 1746.”)
In 2003, after 30 years as an electrician in San Francisco, Ralph returned to live near the family farm. He helped to rebuild and rewire the barn at his parents’ New Preston home to include an apartment for himself. Ralph works fulltime as a construction electrician.
Ralph is completing his first six-year term as a full member of the Washington Zoning Commission. He looks forward to making a continuing contribution as a Zoning Commissioner to Washington’s quality of life.
“My last six years on the Zoning Commission have been a tremendous learning experience. Between attending seminars on land-use law, drafting sensible new regulations, and participating in the intricate procedures followed by the Commission, my zoning apprenticeship taught me how commissioners must act as both legislators and adjudicators. My experience tells me that the Zoning Commission can play a more active role in revitalizing our business districts. Thriving village centers, and the close-knit small-town life they create, form the historic heart of Washington’s unique ‘rural character.’”
Susan Bishop-Wrabel: Zoning Commission, Alternate
Susan moved to Washington in 1983 as a single mom. In 1997 she married Gene Wrabel, who runs Shepaug Valley Electric. Susan grew up partly in New Orleans, where she witnessed that city’s renaissance after zoning and historic districting were enacted to remedy a damaging regulatory void.
“That void threatened to kill the goose that laid the golden egg—the community’s unique and valuable character,” says Susan.
Later, while living in New York in the 1970s, she was active in the movement to preserve some of the City’s historic neighborhoods.
“I have seen how completely ungoverned commercial growth can prove counterproductive, exploiting and destroying what it was meant to serve. I learned that there’s always a careful balance that needs to be struck between preserving the essential character of a town and facilitating its natural development. I’ll bring that lesson with me to the Zoning Commission.”
Michael Jackson: Board of Finance, Full Member
Michael has been an investment banker for 31 years, a psychoanalyst for 25 years, and a private equity investor for 16 years. Michael chairs the Board of Finance.
“I am still committed to the same fiscal values I have been espousing since I joined the board in 1990.”
Edward S. (Ted) Bent: Board of Finance, Alternate
As business manager at Canterbury School for the past 14 years, Ted oversees an $18 million operating budget for this 355-student secondary school. He has lived in Washington with his wife Rebecca since 1988.
“I’d like to put my professional budgetary experience and skills to work for the Town. Although the Board of Finance doesn’t develop the school budget, my familiarity with school budgets may add a helpful perspective to the board’s work.”
Kerry O’Toole: Board of Assessment Appeals. Full Member
A mother of four, Kerry graduated from Shepaug High School and Cornell University, with a B.A. in government. She spent five years in Washington, D.C., working as a legislative aide to U.S. Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD). She moved back to town in 1999, and now teaches Spanish at Sharon Center School.
She's a member of the League of Women Voters, the Democratic Town Committee, and Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish Council. An incumbent on the Board of Assessment Appeals, Kerry feels that her knowledge of the process will enable her to decide each taxpayer's case in a fair and consistent manner.
Joan Kaplan: Zoning Board of Appeals, Alternate
Joan was a weekender in Washington from 1990 to 2001 and returned as a permanent resident in 2009. She is the founder and president of Money Matters for Women (www.moneymatterstowomen.com). It conducts an interactive educational seminar series, which teaches women how to become financially responsible individuals. Joan has volunteered at the Gunn Library and the Washington Art Association. She is eager to use her proven problem-solving skills in the service of the Town.
Peter Bowman: Zoning Board of Appeals, full member
Peter, an architect, lives in Washington with his wife Lesely and two sons. He graduated from the Syracuse University School of Architecture in 1989 and moved to Washington ten years later. He has served on Region 12 building committees, which investigated consolidation and renovation proposals for the primary schools. He has been on the Zoning Board of Appeals since 2006.