BETHLEHEM-WOODBURY – Voters will go to the polls from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, June 30, to elect two Region 14 Board of Education members from Bethlehem and two from Woodbury.
Voting in Bethlehem takes place at Town Hall, 36 Main St. South. Voters are asked to wear masks and maintain social distancing of six feet apart. Hand sanitizer will be available. Voting officials will wear masks and gloves and sneeze guards will be in place.
Voting privacy booths will be sanitized after each use. Voters are asked to bring a black or blue ink pen and completely fill in the appropriate voting squares.
Voting in Woodbury takes place at the Senior Community Center, 265 Main St. South. The Safe Polls Plan is intended to protect the health and safety of both the voters and poll workers as it relates to Covid-19. The plan uses recommendations from a number of sources including, but not limited to, the Centers for Disease Control’s Election Polling Locations guidelines, the Pomperaug District Department of Health, the state Department of Public Health and Gov. Ned Lamont’s Executive Orders.
Voters and poll workers are required to wear masks. Six-foot social distance guidelines will be implemented. Occupancy at the Senior Community Center will be capped at 50%.
Hand sanitizer will be available at the entrance to the building and where voting takes place. Regular cleaning and sanitizing will take place as voting goes on. A floating poll worker will monitor social distancing.
Poll workers will wear masks or face shields. Sneeze guards will be in place and voting privacy booths will be six feet apart.
Voters will be handed a ballot covered by construction paper which can be disposed of and voters will use disposable markers.
Competing for the four posts on the school board are three candidates from Bethlehem and five candidates from Woodbury.
Detailed information about the candidates is available on the district’s website, using the link https://www.ctreg14.org/board-of-education/board-of-education-candidates-2020.
The three candidates from Bethlehem are Michael Devine, Melissa Wesaw and Pamela Zmek. Mr. Devine and Ms. Zmek are incumbents.
The six candidates from Woodbury are Edward DeCortin, Jonathan Kapstein, Derek Packett, Tikva Rose and Casey Rushin. Mr. DeCortin is an incumbent.
Leaving the board this year and not seeking reelection is Maryann Van Aken.
Mr. Devine has served on the Board of Education since 2014. He has a longstanding record of service to the community and region, including as Bethlehem town treasurer from 1989 to 2001, deputy fire marshal from 2004 to the present, Board of Finance member from 2001-13, and Bethlehem Lions Club from 1989 to the present.
He has served as chairman of the Naugatuck Valley Council of Governments Emergency Planning Committee since 2016.
Ms. Wesaw grew up in Woodbury and graduated from Nonnewaug High School. She has experience working in the legal field as an attorney in the private sector and as a caseworker with the state Department of Corrections.
With five boys, Ms. Wesaw says she sees first-hand “the effects the decisions of the board has on students.” She promises to listen to each perspective to find “fair and safe solutions.”
Ms. Zmek is the current vice chairman of the Board of Education, having served three terms on the board. She is employed by the Diocese of Bridgeport Office of Education, where she was a learning specialist before becoming a classroom teacher at Our Lady of Fatima in Wilton and then St. Rose of Lima School in Newtown. Prior to that, she worked as a paralegal.
Mr. DeCortin, a current member of the Board of Education, serves on the board’s Public/Community Relations Committee and the Finance/Facilities Committee. Additional information about Mr. DeCortin has not yet been posted on the district’s website.
Mr. Kapstein has been endorsed by both parties in Woodbury. He holds degrees from Brown and Columbia Universities. He has served as a volunteer admissions coordinator for Brown for 20 years and has administered tests for Columbia in foreign locations.
He is committed to the Vo-Ag element of Region 14, based on actively managing his family’s 140 acres of timberland in New York’s rural Essex County. He belongs to the Woodbury Volunteer Fire Department and serves as the public information officer.
Mr. Kapstein said, “Eventually students will go on to college, military service, trades and professions and farming. We want to make sure the education path that gets them to adulthood is the best we can provide.”
Mr. Kapstein and his wife Nancy moved to Woodbury four years ago after a career in international journalism.
Mr. Packett moved to Woodbury with his family about eight years ago. He has coached soccer, hockey and lacrosse. If elected, he pledges to listen and learn from those around him, bringing those concerns and ideas back to the board for “the benefit of our children and for the growth of our community.”
Ms. Rose was born and raised in Jerusalem and has served in the Israeli military. She relocated to the U.S. to work for a New York City-based Israeli bank. She is currently a teacher in Newtown, teaching grades 7 and 8, and is vice president of the Mitchell School PTO.
As a parent of elementary age children and as a special educator, she feels she is aware of the ever-changing needs of the student population. “Both the happiness and well-being of our children, and our community as a whole, are of utmost importance to me,” she said.
Casey Rushin’s vision for Region 14 “is to bring the best learning experience for all students while keeping an economical friendly budget.”
Casey is an active volunteer firefighter and the parent of a 9-year-old daughter in the school system. He is an alternate on the Zoning Commission.