Election 2019 Candidate Bios
Meet your municipal candidates, Wilton!
This information is compiled from a number of sources: candidate-supplied biographical information, candidate supplied Op-Eds, and video from the two Candidate Forums, at which candidates answered questions submitted by Wilton residents. The forum was sponsored by GOOD Morning Wilton, the Wilton Library Association and the Wilton League of Women Voters.
(Candidates are listed in order of appearance on the ballot.)
Deb McFadden (D)
Dedicated to making the community of Wilton better, Deb has worked on behalf of the Wilton Security Task Force, Norwalk River Valley Trail, STAR Lighting the Way, Trackside, Sustainable CT and her church. She currently serves on the Wilton Board of Selectmen and received the most votes of any selectman candidate in the last election.
Deb previously served in the office of the Mayor for a large city, represented the state of Connecticut as a member of the 2008 Electoral College, and is currently an executive at an IT cybersecurity consultancy.
Deb and her husband, Jack, have lived in Wilton for over two decades. All of their children attended Wilton public schools. She is a graduate of Utah State University, in Journalism and Political Science.
Lynne Vanderslice (R)
As First Selectwoman, Lynne leads a vision of a smaller, more responsive and cost efficient government, which collaborates with the BOE to ensure the excellence of ours schools, of meaningful enhancements to existing infrastructure and amenities and of planning for a more vital Wilton Center to better integrate the Norwalk River and incentivize diverse residential development, that allows residents to remain in Wilton and attracts new residents.
Wilton leads in fiscal management, shared services, energy through renewable sources and safer playing fields. Average budget growth slowed to 0.82%, the commercial grand list grew, infrastructure and amenities improved, environmental initiatives increased.
Lynne is a 32-year resident, with volunteer leadership with ABC, Wilton Library and Wilton Playshop. Professionally, she was a financial management executive and a CPA.
Michael Richard Powers (petition)
My wife Lucia and I moved to Wilton in November of 2015 and we welcomed our daughter Eleanor in 2017. I am the youngest of five children. My wife, daughter and I are all parishioners of Our Lady of Fatima Church. My parents instilled in me a deep sense of faith and an unyielding work ethic.
I received my Bachelor of Science in Finance from Fairfield University and my Juris Doctorate at Pace University School of Law. I am a licensed attorney in Connecticut and New York, and I am a Certified Public Accountant.
I am a lifelong Republican and deeply believe in the cornerstone of Republican values–minimal tax burden on both individuals and businesses, economic growth, education, transparent government, and government accountability.
Board of Selectmen
Ross Tartell (D)
Ross spent his career helping individuals become successful leaders and enabling organizations achieve peak performance. He runs a leadership development consulting firm and teaches at Columbia University. Previously Ross worked in managerial capacities at GE Capital and Pfizer. He holds an M.B.A. and Ph.D. from Columbia University. In his commitment to public service, Ross applies his extensive business experience and skills to help others find common ground and unlock hidden opportunities to better serve the community. Ross is a Wilton fire commissioner, chaired long-range planning teams in Wilton Schools for 22 years, and is involved in a wide range of community and professional activities. Ross and his wife, Karen, moved to Wilton in 1989. Their son graduated from WHS and is now in graduate school.
Ceci Maher (D)
Ceci is an experienced leader in long-range planning, budgeting, program development, evaluation, fundraising and marketing. From 2005-2019, Ceci was CEO of Person-to-Person, a social service agency serving 25,000 people annually in Fairfield County. Under Ceci’s leadership, P2P experienced significant growth, expanding from one to three sites. Ceci has served on numerous boards including chairing Minks to Sinks, A Better Chance of Wilton (ABC) and Wilton Library Association. In 2019, Ceci was appointed to the Board of Finance. Ceci and her husband, Rob, have lived in Wilton since 1988. Her children all graduated from Wilton High School. Ceci is a graduate of the University of Massachusetts and Columbia University School of Social Work. She received professional training at Stanford University and Harvard Business School.
Joshua Cole (R)
Currently on the Board of Selectmen, Josh promotes frank and open dialogue about the challenges facing our town and has a reputation as a strong, reasoned advocate for all Wiltonians. With two children attending Miller-Driscoll, he brings an important generational perspective. Josh is on the Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, and was previously ZBA chair, the BOS subcommittee to select Town counsel, and the POCD workgroup. A commercial real estate and finance attorney, Josh supports responsible development. A Wilton resident for 12 years, he focuses on improving services and amenities for residents and reducing expenses through appropriate shared services. Josh will continue his efforts to ensure Wilton remains a safe and nurturing environment, and an attractive, welcoming community for all living and working here.
Dave Clune (unaffiliated/petition)
Dave Clune is an unaffiliated candidate and currently the second selectman.
A Wilton native, he attended Driscoll, Cider Mill, Middlebrook and Wilton High School. Superb teachers at each turned him into a lifelong learner.
At Boston College he received a Bachelor of Arts degree, played lacrosse and met his wife Robin.
After BC he joined Operation Smile, a non-profit that provides free surgery to children in developing countries. Coordinating volunteers from around the world required meticulous planning, coordination and the ability to improvise.
He then attended Fordham Law School, became an Assistant District Attorney for the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, a lawyer in private practice and is now the Chief Operating Officer for the Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s Legal Group.
Board of Finance–Full 4-year Term
Chris Stroup (unaffiliated/D slate)
Chris has been chairman of the board and Chief Executive Officer of Wilton Re Ltd. since its founding in 2004, and partner at Stone Point Capital for 15 years. Previously, Chris was CEO of Swiss Re Life & Health America Inc. and CFO of a publicly traded life insurer. He began his career at Ernst & Young LLP and became partner in 1993. Chris served on Wilton’s Board of Education for four years and was appointed to the inaugural Economic Development Commission.
Wilton welcomed Chris and Catherine in 1994. Their children attended Wilton public schools, and matriculated at exceptional universities. Chris earned a B.S. in Economics from the Wharton School of business and an M.B.A. from the Columbia University Graduate School of Business.
Jung Soo Kim (D)
Jung Soo and her husband, Gene, have raised their three children in Gene’s hometown, Wilton, for the past 15 years. When her youngest entered Middlebrook, Jung Soo earned her Masters in Software Engineering and started a new career in technology where she leverages her quantitative and qualitative analytical skills in the financial data industry. Jung Soo has been an active volunteer in the Wilton public schools and PTAs. She has shared her interests and knowledge with the Wilton community by teaching computer programming summer camps at the Wilton Library and organizing a financial literacy group.
Jung Soo received a BA in History from the University of Chicago and her Masters in Software Engineering from Fairfield University.
Mike Kaelin (D)
Mike has served in leadership positions in Wilton town government and community organizations for more than 20 years, including as a member of the Board of Selectmen and of the Charter Commission; as president and member of the Finance and Executive Committees of the Wilton Library; and vice president of civic affairs for the Wilton Chamber of Commerce. Mike is an attorney and a Principal in Cummings & Lockwood LLC in Stamford. In appreciation for their volunteer service, Mike and his wife, Carol, were recipients of the Distinguished Citizen Award from the Riverbrook Regional YMCA in 2015. Mike and Carol have lived in Wilton since 1993. Their four children graduated from the Wilton Pubic Schools. Mike received his B.A. and J.D. degrees from Duke University.
Peter Balderston (R)
Current BOF member seeking re-election. Have lived in Wilton for over 28 years, raising three children here. 35+ years of professional experience at financial services firms including JP Morgan and predecessor banks, serving in both divisional CFO and COO capacities.
A BOF member’s first duty is to town taxpayers. I seek to maintain a strong school system and high-quality town services but ensure sustainability in a time of uncertain real estate markets, lower school enrollments and challenging state fiscal environment. My priority is to continue improving Wilton’s schools and quality of life at a cost that residents can afford, now and in the future. Current member of BOE Business Operations Subcommittee, working with Wilton’s school administration to benchmark academic/educational achievements while maximizing our tax dollars.
Warren Serenbetz (R)
Warren has a decade of experience on Wilton’s Board of Finance, including eight years as chair. He instituted policies to fund the Town Pension and OPEB Trusts in excess of actuarially required amounts to reduce unfunded liabilities. As BOF representative to both Trusts, he fought for reasonable actuarial assumptions. The Pension Trust is now 95% funded, and the OPEB Trust is one of the best funded plans in Connecticut. Mill rate increases also declined during his tenure. Warren is a team player, he will work collaboratively with board colleagues to balance the competing needs of the town, the schools, and property tax levels. Warren and his wife Cindi have lived in Wilton for 36 years and educated their three children in the Wilton public schools.
Board of Finance–to fill a vacancy for a 2-year term
Kevin Gardiner (D)
Kevin has nearly two decades of experience working with companies to improve their operational efficiencies along with improving employee and customer experience. He has worked in various Management and Senior Management positions at multi-million dollar startups, and multi-billion dollar companies. Kevin is currently the SVP of Operations for a Wilton-based holding company. Kevin has been a Wilton Energy Commissioner since November 2017, and he is currently the Vice Chair and Secretary, and he has been a Student Mentor and Judge at UCONN’s Innovation Quest Program since 2018. Kevin and his wife, Mauricia, moved to Wilton in 2016; he has one child in 2nd grade and one in preschool. He received a BS/BA in Finance from Bryant University, and an MBA from UCONN.
Board of Education
Ruth DeLuca (D)
Ruth and her husband moved to Wilton in 2016 for its excellent schools and small, caring community. They have three children making their way through Miller-Driscoll and pre-school. Ruth is a member of the Miller-Driscoll PTA and strongly believes in the value of public education. As a Director at the Biotechnology Innovation Organization, she advocated for regulatory policies rooted in science and economic efficiency. In private practice, she helped people navigate the healthcare and insurance system. Ruth graduated from Brooklyn Law School in 2011. She holds a Masters of Philosophy and Social Policy from George Washington University, and her BA from Northeastern University in Economics and Political Science.
Savet Constantine (D)
Savet is a dedicated advocate for achieving the highest quality educational experiences and outcomes for Wilton’s students, parents and educators. She has demonstrated her commitment to community service through multiple leadership positions, most recently as WHS PTSA president for the past three years. Previous roles included Middlebrook PTA president, WHS PTSA Secretary, Parent-at-Large for WHS PTSA and Middlebrook PTA, and Wilton PTA Council VP of Budget and Reflections Chair. Savet has worked on initiatives and programs focused on budget, academic curriculum and extracurricular activities. Savet has a Masters of International Affairs from Columbia University and a BA from Carleton College. Savet and her husband live in Wilton with their son, a rising WHS senior. Their daughter is a WHS graduate and attends Carnegie Mellon.
Mandi Schmauch (R)
Mandi is a seasoned business leader with management experience working at major corporations. She has earned numerous business awards and accolades, including awards for leadership and the sales performance. The mother of two, Mandi is a frequent volunteer, and school and community leader. She served on the Miller-Driscoll Building Committee, and has also been VP of the Miller-Driscoll PTA, founder and chair of the Miller-Driscoll Carnival, and founder and current chair of the Cider Mill Talent Show. Mandi has also been volunteering with Wilton Kiwanis, Minks to Sinks and the Wilton Congregational Church. Mandi believes in elevating all Wilton students, retaining and recruiting top teachers and increasing communication between the BOE and the community.
Jennifer Lalor (R)
Jennifer is a speech-language pathologist working with children and their families, therapists, and educators. Owner of a private practice and the southern Connecticut clinical supervisor for TheraCare, she also worked at Iona College’s Speech and Hearing Clinic as a clinical supervisor for student clinicians. The mother of two, she has volunteered for and chaired events at Miller-Driscoll, Cider Mill, and Middlebrook, and is a Girl Scout Troop Leader. Jennifer’s professional and personal experience make her an exceptional and strong advocate for Wilton’s schools. Her career is based upon the importance of helping every student succeed, and supporting educators to consistently achieve strong educational outcomes. She will advocate for enhanced communication and community involvement, and will continue to stand against mandated school regionalization.
Planning & Zoning Commission–Full 4-year Term
Florence Johnson (D)
After growing up in Wilton, Florence returned to raise her family. She brings to P&Z an intimate knowledge of the land, perspective on the town’s history, and a commitment to community service as a member of Wilton League of Women Voters, Wilton Presbyterian Church, Wilton Kiwanis, and Wilton YMCA. Now an administrator at Sacred Heart University, Florence has also served as a policy analyst, managed operations subject to regulatory compliance, and designed impact assessments, implementation plans, community education and engagement programs. Florence holds a BA in Literature from U.C. Santa Cruz and an M.A. in Health Advocacy from Sarah Lawrence College. Florence also graduated from UConn’s Master Gardener program and studying Landscape and Garden Design at the New York Botanical Gardens.
Rem Bigosinski (D)
Rem is a licensed landscape architect who has designed public spaces for nearly a decade, from Shanghai to Connecticut. Rem’s approach to design is story and research driven, from high-profile mixed use projects, to residential homes and corporate campuses to streetscape design. In addition to his design practice, Rem teaches architectural engineering courses at Norwalk Community College part-time. He also volunteers on Wilton’s Zoning Board of Appeals. Rem and his wife, Pola, have lived in Wilton since 2018. Rem has a BFA from UConn and an MLA from The Rhode Island School of Design. He was also a Fulbright Fellow to Poland where he studied bronze casting and sculpture.
Melissa Jean Rotini (unaffiliated/R slate)
Twice appointed to Planning & Zoning, Melissa is Director of Environmental Management Operations of Westchester County’s Environmental Facilities Department’s Solid Waste Division. Previously, she spent 16 years as a municipal attorney, representing 9/11 first responders, then defending multiple municipalities, including in regulatory environmental law matters. Her municipal government experience provides a unique understanding of P&Z applications. During her 12 years in Wilton, she served as a member and chair of the EDC, a member of Wilton School District’s Math and Curriculum Review committees, co-chair of two PTA events, and room mom at Miller Driscoll, where her two daughters attend school. Melissa has been a vocal advocate for citizen involvement, applicant responsibility, appropriate health and safety reviews, and balancing development with planning, conservation, and preservation.
Rick Tomasetti (R)
A lifelong Wilton resident and architect, Rick is currently vice chair of the Planning & Zoning Commission. He coaches multiple youth sports teams, and previously served as a member of the Building Inspectors Board of Appeals, Water Pollution Control Authority, Miller-Driscoll Building Committee, and Wilton YMCA Board of Directors. As a member of P&Z, he led the way on its proposed planning review exercise and worked to protect the rights of property owners. Rick has a proven record of successful architecture and construction projects throughout CT, NY, DE, and SC. His expertise will help Wilton be proactive in updating its zoning regulations to ensure they are effective and forward-thinking, believing strongly this will encourage a higher level of design and incentivize preservation for everyone’s benefit.
Matthew Murphy (R)
A current member of Planning & Zoning, Matthew is running for his second term. As a local business owner in Fairfield County, he has worked with several municipalities on planning and zoning issues and appreciates the difficulty of balancing the concerns of businesses with the need for consistency in zoning regulations. During his first term on P&Z, Matthew has developed a firm grasp of the priorities of Wilton’s residents through his work on the town’s Plan of Conservation and Development. A 24-year Wilton resident, he is committed to preserving the town’s history and charm while meeting its development requirements.
OP-ED not submitted.
Jake Bittner (unaffiliated/R slate)
Jake is a design and construction professional with experience building in towns and cities throughout the country, including Aspen and Nantucket, that have successfully embraced historic preservation and thoughtfully managed planning to produce thriving communities. Jake’s more than 22 years of experience have given him a unique understanding of how regulations physically shape buildings and the built environment, and how they can allow exceptional solutions and avoid major failures. Raised in Weston and a 10-year Wilton resident, Jake is devoted to preserving the historic and rural character of Wilton and is committed to implementing the POCD, empowering design review, and pursuing ever higher quality development for Wilton and its residents.
Planning & Zoning Commission–to fill a 2-year Vacancy
Peter Squitieri (D)
Peter loves Wilton for its rural beauty, for its strong community spirit, and for its outstanding schools. Being on the P&Z commission will let him translate this attachment into helping make sure that the next Master Plan preserves these qualities, and encourages the managed growth necessary to assure our continued excellence. For the last 35 years Peter has had a successful IT consulting business with long-term clients from the Fortune 100, as well as numerous clients in the local area. He has also been a founder and treasurer of several area service organizations. Peter has lived in Fairfield county most of his life. He settled in Wilton in 2013. He and his wife, Annette, have two sons who attend WHS.
Jill Warren (R)
A recent graduate of Cornell, Jill brings a fresh perspective to Wilton, one that represents younger people looking for a home for themselves and their families. With a degree in Biology, Health, and Society, she will bring the invaluable approach of a scientist to issues of water quality, pollution, population density, and public health that figure prominently in planning and zoning decisions. She is also a seasoned advocate, putting her abilities and voice to work in the service of the public. She was a founder of a Victims and Survivors Association at Cornell, an Educator for Consent Education, and Chairwoman of a Committee on Sexual Assault. She looks forward to playing an active role in helping Wilton plan and develop now and for the future.
Board of Assessment Appeals
Bob Zsunkan (D)
Bob recently retired after 45 years working for many of the world’s top reinsurance companies. Through his work he helped to preserve assets, assess risk and comply with government regulations. Putting his financial, mathematical and audit skills to work, Bob served as alternate to the Board of Assessment Appeals during Wilton’s revaluation and appeals process in spring 2019. Bob and his wife, Alison, have lived in Wilton since 1993. Their two sons were educated in the Wilton school system. Bob holds an MBA and BBA/Accounting from Adelphi University in Garden City, New York. Additionally, Bob is a Certified Internal Auditor (retired) (CIA), Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE), Certified Financial Services Auditor (CFSA), Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter (CPCU) and has an Associate in Reinsurance designation (ARe).
Dan Falta (R)
Bio not provided
Zoning Board of Appeals–Full Term
John Gardiner (D)
John has been involved in land use issues for many years. His interest began while he was still in law school when he served as a legal assistant to the Zoning Appeals Board in Indianapolis, IN. It continued through his Chairmanship of the Board of Zoning and Architectural Review in Crested Butte, CO. In Wilton, he has served on the Inland Wetlands Commission (chairman), the Zoning Board of Appeals (vice chairman) and the Planning and Zoning Commission (secretary). Currently retired, he volunteers for the Wilton Food Pantry and Stay at Home in Wilton. John has a BA degree from the University of Pennsylvania and a JD from Indiana University. He and his wife, Julia, have lived in Wilton for over 25 years.
Mangtao (Monty) Du (R)
As a first-generation immigrant and naturalized US citizen, Monty is eager and well qualified to serve our community. An engineer trained at Columbia University, Monty has spent 23 years practicing engineering for transportation infrastructure projects including bridges, tunnels, airports, and marine ports, in Connecticut and worldwide. Monty describes himself as objective, analytical, and practical. His profession requires him to always understand local codes and regulations. Respecting these requirements and maintaining Wilton’s quality of life, while helping ease any true hardship for residents, will be his priorities as a ZBA member.
Libby Bufano (R)
Libby has raised her family here in Wilton and continues to be committed to serving the Town’s residents. She has been on Wilton’s Zoning Board of Appeals since 2014, creating continuity and providing institutional knowledge. She is trained in Freedom of Information Act requirements and has a clear grasp of Wilton’s unique topographical situations and the kinds of hardships that resident cases may present. A Wilton resident for more than 50 years, she also served as treasurer of the Miller Driscoll PTA and of the Republican Town Committee and was actively involved with the Wilton Playshop for many years.
Anthony Cenatiempo (R)
Anthony is currently vice chair of the Zoning Board of Appeals. A litigation attorney with an office in Stamford, he has practiced law in Connecticut since 2005. His legal experience gives him a clear and deep understanding of Wilton’s zoning regulations. He does his homework rigorously and puts strong emphasis on clear communications with applicants and members of the public during hearings. He looks forward to continuing to serve all of our residents on the ZBA.
Zoning Board of Appeals–to fill a 2-year Vacancy
Sunila Kapur (D)
Sunila has made Wilton her home since 1975. She started her career as an elementary school teacher at a private school in NJ. After moving to Wilton she entered the real estate industry. In the 1980s and 1990s she started by building and remodeling homes here in Wilton and is currently a real estate agent in town. Sunila is a member of the Wilton Encore Club which promotes friendship and mutual support through social activities and helps raise funds to benefit agencies that provide social services to the local community. Sunila is co-chairperson of international activities. Sunila earned her BSE,B,ED in home economics from Lady Irwin college in New Delhi India. Her two children graduated from WHS and Columbia University.
Zoning Board of Appeals–Alternate Full Term
Gerald Holdridge (R)
Bio not provided.
Ernie Ricco (D)
Ernie has a long history of community and government engagement, having been elected to the Stratford Town Council at age 22. Ernie has been chairperson of the Wilton Democratic Platform committee since 1999 and has served as a delegate representing Connecticut Democrats at numerous state and national conventions since 2000. He is the owner of Ricco Enterprises, a construction management and property operations firm since 1988, and has been a coach for 20 years at the collegiate and high school levels. Ernie and his wife, Brenda, have lived in Wilton since 1994. They have six children all of whom have graduated from or currently attend the Wilton’s public schools. Ernie has a BS from Southern Connecticut State University.
Bo Mitchell (D)
Bo was Police Commissioner of Wilton for 16 years. He has been an elected Constable for 18 years since leaving the Police Commission. When he retired as Police Commissioner, Bo founded 911 Consulting which creates emergency, disaster recovery, business continuity, crisis communications and pandemic plans, plus training and exercises for organizations like GE HQ, Hyatt HQ, MasterCard HQ and 31 campuses nationwide. He serves clients headquartered from Boston to LA working in their facilities from London to San Francisco. Bo has earned 22 certifications in homeland security, emergency management, disaster recovery, business continuity, safety and security. He also serves as an expert in landmark court cases nationally.
Paul Soley (D)
Paul has spent the past 25 years facilitating economic globalization as a leader in the corporate relocation industry. His career has taken him from a position at a large multinational company to an entrepreneurial and leadership role at his own enterprise assisting foreign nationals arriving in the U.S on work visas to settle into the tri-state area. A member of Wilton Baptist Church since 2008, Paul has exhibited his dedication to service through leadership roles on the Missions Committee of the church, as a member of the Ministries Council of the denomination, Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, and as a deacon. Paul has lived in Connecticut for 17 years. He and his wife, Elizabeth, moved to Wilton in 2007. Paul graduated from the University of Minnesota.
Chris Gardner (R)
Bio not provided.
Lianne Acosta-Rua (R)
Bio not provided.
Raymond Tobiassen (R)
Bio not provided.