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Milford High Seniors Question Candidates for the Town Election

A Milford High School senior John Bae, with senior Maggie Boyle, asks a question of the candidates running for School Committee during a Candidates Forum at the school on March 15. The seniors, many of whom will be able to vote for the first time in the April 3 election, had the chance to meet the candidates for Board of Selectmen and School Committee and hear about their qualifications and the issues that are important to them.

Milford High School seniors had a glimpse into town politics and the democratic process with their first hosted candidates' forum on March 15.

Candidates running for Board of Selectman as well as School Committee in the April 3 town election came to Milford High School (MHS) for the morning to speak to the students about issues that are important to them and what makes them the most qualified person for the position.

MHS Principal Josh Otlin kicked-off the forum by introducing the candidates and reminding the students why it is so important to get involved in elections at all levels.

"All of you have a stake in the outcomes of these elections," he told the seniors, many of whom have turned or will be turning 18-years-old before April 3. "In politics, the people who show up are the people who have a say."

Each of the candidates had two minutes to introduce themselves and make an opening statement before they took questions from the audience.

Incumbent William Kingkade and candidate John Erickson are both running for a spot on the Board of Selectmen, and both feel they have what it takes to help shape the direction that the town should be heading in.

"Milford is in a great financial position right now but that can change in an instant," said Kingkade. "We need to keep a tight reign on our finances while still addressing the concerns of the citizens."

"We need to take a larger view; redevelop our comprehensive plan," stated Erickson. "Be proactive rather than reactive."

The seven candidates running for three open spots on the School Committee all agree on one main goal – to ensure that the students leave Milford with a quality education and are prepared for their future.

Michael Visconti, Jr., Laura Ciaramicoli Ingemi, Glenn Wiech, Sara Howe, Meghan Hornberger, and Tarik Miranda all spoke briefly about their backgrounds, ideas for School Committee, and what would make them the best candidate for the job. Candidate Christopher Wilson was not in attendance.

When the candidates were then asked what were one or two challenges that they saw facing the Milford Public Schools, the answers began to vary.

"Infrastructure," answered Miranda. "Some of the school buildings are falling apart and we need to do something about that."

Hornberger agreed that infrastructure would be a challenge faced by the school district in the near future as well as serving the diverse population in Milford with a limited budget.

Howe responded that it was important to support the needs of all students and to increase marketing opportunities for the successes of the schools. "We need to paint a more optimistic picture of this town," she said.

Weich answered that it would be critical to lower the number of students who "choiced-out" of Milford Public Schools to attend other schools, and wants to be an "advocate" for the district.

Ciaramicoli Ingemi also agreed that the number of students choicing-out is concern facing the district, and that there needs to be a continued emphasis on social emotional learning so that "students are prepared and ready to learn every day."

Visconti cited his background in planning and development as a benefit for the School Committee as they look at infrastructure in the future. "I am the most qualified person here to tackle the problem of developing a maintenance plan."

The candidate's forum was born of an idea from the town's Election Working Group, a group put together by the Selectmen to promote voter turnout. "We have come to realize that students don't vote," said Bryan Cole, co-Chair of the Election Working Group. "Only five percent of 18-year-olds voted in the last election. That was because they really didn't know the candidates and what they stood for."

Cole said that they hoped that bringing the candidates to the students would pique interest and bring out more young people to make their voices heard at the polls.

"We wanted the students to meet the candidates and get a better sense of what they could bring to the table," he said.

In the weeks leading up to the forum, Milford High National Honor Society Members also held a voter registration day to allow students turning 18 before the town election to register to vote.


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