• Branford Democrats Nominate Slate of Candidates to Build a Better Branford

    BRANFORD – On Thursday, July 22, the Branford Democratic Town Committee endorsed a full slate of candidates for the 2021 municipal election. Leading the ticket of 29 candidates was Tom Brockett for First Selectman, Ray Dunbar for Second Selectman, Eileen Poulton Cimino for Town Clerk, Kurt Schwanfelder for Treasurer, and Roberta Gill-Brooks for Tax Collector.

    Tom Brockett is presently serving his second term representing the 7th District on the RTM where he leads the Democratic caucus. A graduate of Branford High School, he is a lifelong town resident. After graduating from Wesleyan University and UConn Law School, he pursued a career in the practice of Labor Law and is now retired. Tom played baseball and shared his love of the game with generations of Branford children serving as coach, umpire, and President of Branford Little League. A Vietnam Veteran, he is a member of the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars. Tom and his wife Carolyn raised three children who are all graduates of the Branford School System.

    “I am honored to have the nomination to lead this incredible group of Branford residents and to work as a team to build a better Branford," said Brockett. "Branford has been my home for my family for generations and we have supported our town and our neighbors through thick and thin. I know better days lie ahead for Branford if we work together, listen to the community, communicate with one another, and focus on growing our economy. Decades ago I served my country in Vietnam and now I hope I can earn your trust to serve this town as First Selectman.”

    Ray Dunbar currently serves as 2nd selectman and has provided a lifetime of service to our town and country. Ray, too, is a Navy veteran. He was one of Branford’s first EMTs, and a volunteer firefighter with Co. 5 in Stony Creek. Ray worked for the Branford Police Department for 34 years and recently retired as captain. Ray served as an elected member of the RTM from 1997-2005 and again from 2017-2019. Ray and his wife Cindy live in Stony Creek. They and their two daughters all graduated from the Branford School System.

    “Branford needs hands-on leadership starting at the top,” said incumbent 2nd Selectman Ray Dunbar. “Tom and I are both veterans and understand the importance of public service and giving back. Now we want to serve the people of this town we love and are committed to doing better for every resident of Branford.”

    Eileen Poulton Cimino has served as Assistant Town Clerk in Branford since 2015 and has achieved her Connecticut Town Clerk Certification. Eileen is a fourth generation resident of Branford. She and her husband of 32 years, Steve, raised their three children, Steven, Brandon and Francesca, in Short Beach – just down the street from the house she grew up in and where her great-grandfather owned the Short Beach Waiting Station. After graduating from Branford High School in 1977, Eileen became a goldsmith, soon training her own apprentices. She then sold real estate, became the Marketing Director for The Hearth at Gardenside senior living facility, and in 2009 founded her company – Funderful Face Painting, LLC – which she still operates today.

    “With my years of experience in the Town Clerk’s office I’ll be ready to serve the people of Branford on day one,” said Poulton Cimino. “My family has been in Branford for four generations so I understand the importance of a responsive and friendly Town Clerk’s office. I look forward to the opportunity to continue to serve the town I love.”

    Kurt Schwanfelder currently serves as Treasurer for the town. He was an RTM First District Representative for 22 years, and during that time he held both the Majority and Minority positions as well as Chairman of the RTM Public Services Committee. He has also been a Police Commissioner, served as a member of the Board of Finance, and on the Board of Assessment Appeals. His more than 35 years of service has helped Kurt develop good relationships with town employees and leaders. Kurt is always available to listen to questions and concerns of Branford citizens and involve them in problem solving. Kurt was born and raised in Branford and has many family and business connections in the community. Kurt has been the owner and operator of Britain’s Automotive in Branford, for over 49 years and he also owns and rents residential and commercial properties in town.

    “Serving as Treasurer has allowed me to bring together both my experience in town government and as a small business owner,” said Schwanfelder. “I could not be more excited for the knowledgeable and accomplished group we have running for office this year. I am proud to support Tom Brockett for First Selectman and know he will do Branford proud.”

    Roberta Gill-Brooks, known as “Bobi”, was born, raised and educated in Branford. She is the first African-American female to run for, and win an elected position in Branford. She is seeking a 3rd term in the role of Tax Collector, Branford. Prior to her career as Tax Collector, Ms. Gill-Brooks was employed by SNET/SBC/AT&T for 32 years, where she served as an Executive in Customer Service and Executive Training. In addition to her role as Tax Collector, she is a Notary Public and a Justice of the Peace, serves on the Board of Directors of the Branford Community Foundation, and is a Pioneer member of Awakening to Change. Roberta has 3 adult sons, and is the daughter of former Branford Police Chief Robert and Dorothy Gill of Branford.

    “Despite the challenges presented by COVID-19, the Tax Collector’s office maintained operations and the tax collection rate,” said Gill-Brooks. “In addition to our regular roles and responsibilities, I am proud of the positive, responsive, and customer-focused atmosphere at our office. I serve the people and as Tax Collector I work every day to ensure everyone in my department is a friendly face you can count on at Town Hall. I am so appreciative of the opportunity to continue to be Branford’s Tax Collector and am excited to work with this team toward victory this November.”

  • Local Teachers, Parents Nominated to Run for Branford Board of Education

  • BRANFORD, CT — Four local parents and teachers, Cristy Cantu, Brett Joly, Neil Sullivan, and Marie Watson were nominated for the Branford Board of Education election on November 2, 2021. All four were unanimously endorsed at the July meeting of the Branford Democratic Town Committee after outlining their experience in education, commitment to communication and transparency, and dedication to creating a better educational experience for students, teachers, and parents.

    Cristy Cantu, a current Branford Board of Education member and parent to Branford students, was nominated for a four year term. Cristy is a mother of two and has lived in Branford for 17 years. She received a Bachelor’s of Arts degree from Hampshire College and a Master’s of Science degree at Columbia University’s School of Social Work. Her chosen field placement was at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center as part of a multi-disciplinary team focusing on perinatal prevention of mother-to-child HIV transmission. Having later worked with children & adolescents affected by HIV though the Yale Child Study Center Family Support Services home-based program, Cristy developed counseling skills rooted in family dynamics and interpersonal trauma. Currently she works at Yale New Haven Hospital’s Psychiatric Emergency Services and as a Counselor at Yale University’s SHARE Center (Sexual Harassment and Assault Response and Education Center) providing crisis intervention, advocacy, support, and counseling to people who have experienced sexual misconduct. She has also served as PTA Cultural Arts Coordinator and later vice-president at John B. Sliney Elementary School, where both her children attended. In addition, in 2013, Cristy worked alongside parents and community leaders to revitalize and renew the Hammer Field/Community House playground.

    Brett Joly, a teacher for over 20 years and currently a French and Spanish teacher at North Haven Middle school, was nominated for a six year term. He has lived in Branford with his wife since 2007 and has two children in the Branford School system. He has taught in Mexico, studied in Spain, and held a Rotary Club Ambassadorial Scholarship for one year to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Additionally, Brett holds Master’s degrees from the School for International Training and the University of California Santa Barbara. He has an extensive history of volunteerism, beginning with working with the homeless at the Immaculate Conception shelter for the homeless in Hartford in 1988, where he got his start learning Spanish.

    Neil Sullivan, an educator with over twenty years of experience as a classroom teacher and school administrator was nominated for a 2 year term. Neil is a proud husband to Karyn, father of two wonderful boys, Daniel and William, and a coach, volunteer and congregation member in Branford. Neil believes in the connectedness between school and community and looks forward to supporting the town he has called home for over a decade via the Board of Education. His educational background includes a BA from Fairfield University, Masters in Education from DePaul University and a Sixth Year Degree from Southern Connecticut State University in educational leadership. He is eager to hear from Branford residents about any and all educational matters.

    Marie Watson, a 26-year resident of Branford, served 7 and a half of those years on the Branford Board of Education from 2002-2009. During that time, she was proud to raise three children who all graduated from Branford High School. Marie has a background in early childhood education and worked in New Haven at an agency that focused on children and families with trauma. More recently she worked at the Wheeler Clinic in congregate care, supervising teens who needed support to re-engage in school and community. While completing her Masters Degree in Social Work (MSW) at Fordham University, Marie interned at the Yale New Haven Hospital Adolescent Intensive Outpatient Program. Marie was nominated for a 6 year term and looks forward to bringing her past Board wisdom and experience to support our current endeavors.

    After the nomination the four candidates for Branford Board of Education outlined their goal of building a better Branford educational experience first and foremost through a commitment to engaging and listening to the community. The candidates can be contacted on their Facebook group Build a Better Branford Board of Education.

  • Message from the Chairman

    Dear Citizens of Branford:
    First, let me thank you for taking the time to learn about how to get involved with your local town government. The Branford Democratic Town Committee is the official local organization of the Connecticut Democratic Party. It is the mission of the Branford Democratic Party to get quality people elected and appointed to statewide and townwide positions. In order for our town and state to thrive in the coming years we need, as a party, to work hard to put good people in office. To do that we need to strive to organize at the local level to recruit, educate the public on local issues, identify leaders and get out the vote. I look forward to working with you in the future.

    Kevin Coughlin
    Chairman, Branford Democratic Town Committee

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