Town, school races in place

MANCHESTER - Town Select Board and School Board races are underway as the top candidates have handed in their petitions to run for their respective seats.

The Manchester Select Board will have two positions up for grabs. An unusual three way race is in place between Incumbent Carol Lattuga and challengers Karen Geriak and Stephen Drunsic, who will all be vying for the two-year seat.

Lattuga, who has been on the Select Board since 2001, said that she believes her experience and her love for the town is what will help her make the tough decisions that need to be made.

"I feel that I am in the middle of a lot of things that need to be settled and I have a lot of experience," said Lattuga. "I am quite involved in the town in general and I think my experience will help a lot in the decisions in the next couple of years. I feel like I owe this town a lot, its such a wonderful town."

Drunsic currently serves on six different boards that include the Legislative Policy Committee for the American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association (ASLRRA), the Tennessee Shortline Alliance, Nashville and Eastern Railroad, Nashville and Western Railroad, Transportation Services Group, and the Marketing and Strategic Committee for Hunter Park at Riley Rink.

"My rationale for running is rooted in two things," said Drunsic. "I was raised in this community, I grew up here. I think part of it is to be more actively involved and be a larger part of the community. I am deeply invested in the ongoing economic welfare here."

Drunsic continued to say, "I think existing board members have done a great job, but I think it might be time to have some younger blood on the board."

Geriak, who is the owner of the Stamford Motel, does not have any prior Select Board experience, but this is her third time running and believes that as a businesses owner she could greatly help the Select Board.

"My main interest is in the future of the town," she said. "I personally do not have my own agenda of things that I want to accomplish if I was to win this spot. I have a vested interest in the town because I am a business owner and I live in the town and my daughters are in the school system."

Geriak added, "I believe the Board is doing a great job but I also believe the Board should be more well-rounded."

The three-year seat is also up for grabs between incumbent Steve Nichols and newcomer Greg Cutler.

Steve Nichols, who has served on the Select Board since 2006, said that he believes that the Select Board as currently constructed is a strong group that works well together. He tries to bring the taxpayer's view on every issue so that the best outcome can be decided.

"I ask a lot of questions, I don't just jump into something," he said. "I think that is what needs to happen. You need to protect the taxpayers, that is the main goal."

Nichols also wants to see projects that have started since he has been on the board through, such as the Habitat for Humanity development on Jennifer Lane, the addition of a new Park House at the Dana L. Thompson Memorial Park, and the Marketing Initiative.

Greg Cutler, 51, is also a candidate for the 3-year Manchester Select Board seat.

Cutler currently serves on the town's Development Review Board. He is a professional voice actor with his own business, BirchTree Productions, following a long career in radio broadcasting. His wife, Tina, is a co-owner of Take Five Drop-In Childcare, a local daycare center.

He is running because of a long-term interest in the town and area, he said during an interview Wednesday, and was encouraged to enter the select board race by several friends and associates, he said.

The town has set the stage for an exciting period ahead, and if elected, he foresaw working as a "cheerleader" to ensure the success of investments like the Roundabout and the Park House, he said.

"I don't have a personal agenda," he said. "I feel strongly about what's going on and want to contribute."

On the school district side, School Board Chairwoman, Debra Wraga is stepping down from her 3-year post on the board. That position is being sought be current board member Brian Vogel, who is running unopposed.

When asked why she decided not to run again, Wraga declined to comment.

Vogel, who is coming off of a 2-year term on the school board, said that he is running for the 3-year seat this year because his kids will be at MEMS for the next few years and he wants to be involved in making it a better school.

"We have the assistant principal position to fill," said Vogel. "We have been working on an ends policy that would establish where we want to go as an institution. We need to make sure all of our policies are up to date, improve educationally quality and try to get test scores higher and become a top tier school."

The other race on the school board is for the 2-year seat, currently held by Brian Vogel, between Mark Kaplan and Stephen Murphy.

Murphy said that he and his family have been here for five years now and that he has been involved in a number of school activities and wants to be more involved.

"I have run in the past," he said. "I am a firm believer that a town should always have contested ballots to give people a choice. I am interested in the ends policy and would like to have some input and I think I could represent those parents who show some concern. I have a very strong belief in fiscal responsibility without sacrificing education."

Attempts to contact Mark Kaplan for comment before press time were unsuccessful.


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