A Common Council candidates forum sponsored by Ministerial Alliance, The NAACP, the Middletown Federation of Teachers, The Middletown Administrators Union, and the Middletown Federation of Paraprofessionals drew about 50 people to the Middletown High auditorium.
Democrats Ed McKeon, Darnell Ford, Jeanette White, Vincent Loffredo and Gene Nocera attended the forum; Grady Faulkner, Bobbye Knoll Peterson, and Meghan Carta failed to show.
Republicans Phil Pessina, Ed Ford, Hope Kasper, Tony Gennaro, Linda Salafia, Jon Pulino, and Matt Scarrozzo attended the forum; Mike Marino failed to show.
Candidates were asked about their budget priorities, Route 9 plans, plans to revitalize downtown and the river front, ability to collaborate with those they disagree with, and tax plans for senior citizens. Most responses were similar, the biggest differences between the candidates being style, preparation, and the personal experiences they would bring to the Council.
All but one candidate said that education excellence was one of their top two priorities for the city budget. Only Linda Salafia said that education was not one of her top priorities, she emphasized taxes, a zero-increase budget, and reducing debt service.
No candidate claimed to have the perfect solution to Route 9, the river front, or the tax burden on senior citizens. With respect to Route 9, most of the candidates implicitly rebuked the current administration, calling for greater transparency and greater consultation with residents about any plans for changes to the Route 9 interchanges, Main Street pedestrian bumpouts, and a pedestrian overpass.
In their closing statements, every candidate said they love our city. Gennaro, Pessina, Pulino, and Scarrozzo emphasized that they were born and raised in Middletown. Salafia, Kasper, Loffredo, and Nocera emphasized the previous work they had done in municipal government. McKeon, Darnell Ford, White, and Ed Ford emphasized non-governmental life experiences that have prepared them to lead the city into the future.