Spotlight Feature Series: Meet David Bindelglass, Candidate for First Selectman in Easton, CT

You’ve Been Committed to Helping Easton's Children and Families for Some Time Now. Will That Change if You are Elected?

Since Gloria and I moved to Easton 25 years ago we have raised our sons here and been involved in community life. You may remember me from my many years coaching soccer and, in 2015, I was elected to the Easton Board of Education. We who serve, regardless of party, share a commitment to our children. We all believe that preparing our children to be future citizens in an ever more complex society is a moral obligation. Yes, we face some tough issues, not the least of which is the rising cost of education. But we have made it our priority to keep class sizes small and we have managed to accomplish that with very modest increases in cost. We agree that we must not lose track of the fact that schools, along with the character of our town, are what drive people to move here. My commitment to the children and families of Easton is to maintain the high quality of education that we have come to expect. This requires the kind of individualized attention that can only come from keeping class sizes small. We must ensure the value of every education dollar spent and keep our costs in line.

Why Did You Decide to Run for First Selectman?

When my children grew up and went away to college, I found that I was no longer going to watch them play games all the time. The town and the schools were so good to our family, and I thought that I could give back to our community in a greater capacity. That is why I wanted to serve on the Board of Ed. While there, I realized that there was still more that I could do. As I slowed down my surgical career over the last few years, it became clear that I now have the time to devote to the town in a larger capacity than years prior. I decided to run for Easton’s First Selectman and use all of the knowledge that I’ve gained towards serving the town in this impactful way.

The single most common thing I hear is that people feel like they do not know what is going on in town. It’s true that we no longer have our newspaper, but this isn’t the whole story. People feel there is a lack of transparency. There are concerns about the town’s finances, how the town functions, and the lack of a vision for the town. Even those who seek out information about what’s going on feel stymied. Those who go to Board of Selectmen meetings do not feel heard. People are dissatisfied with the Town Meeting process. People distrust the leadership or wonder if there is any leadership at all.

I want to find real solutions to these issues. I have experience with the kind of collaborative and bipartisan leadership that Easton needs, and I will bring it to the role of First Selectman.

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Tell Us Something That’s a Big Part of Your Life that Others May Not Know About.

I have always had an almost fanatical love of football. I was on the quiet side and not all that confident as a kid. I loved the sport though, and my parents finally let me play tackle football as a freshman in high school. I turned out to be well built for it and did reasonably well. It made me far more confident and sociable as a teen. It also taught me the importance of teamwork, and helped me to form some really strong bonds in my community which continue even today.

One of those bonds was particularly significant. One of my teammates was Art Monk who went on to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Watching his induction into the Hall of Fame was a wonderful moment in my life. I recall feeling a sense of pride for Art. We grew up in a large town that was racially mixed, and in the 1960’s it was a model of successful desegregation. Art had risen above all of the hurdles and controversy during those times, and when most of us thought that he was being snubbed by Hall of Fame voters for a number of years. In our many years of watching and playing sports, diversity and inclusion weren’t always celebrated. I’m grateful that Art was honored and that times have changed, although there is still much work to be done.

David Bindelglass pictured here (#61) with Art Monk (# 72) in their high school team photo.

Not all of us go on to play professionally or even after high school. I did, however, have the great pleasure of watching my boys go on to find their own passions, play their own sports, and one of them helped as assistant coach on their college football team as well.

Can You Tell Us More About Your Mission Work with Operation Walk?

There are many rewarding parts to my career as an Orthopaedic and joint replacement surgeon. I consider myself very lucky to have developed the skills needed to perform hip and knee replacements, which are so life changing for patients. It is incredibly gratifying to see so many lives transformed by these operations. I am extremely fortunate to have been mentored by Lawrence Dorr, who is an incredible surgeon and teacher. Beyond the surgery procedures, he taught me how to be a complete physician.

Dr. Dorr decided that we could make an even greater impact by doing these surgeries all over the world. He wanted to help people with arthritis in developing countries, so he founded Operation Walk which has performed more than 10,000 knee and hip replacements over the past 20 years. I have been on six missions now, and on 3 continents, most recently to Cuba. We take a team of about 50 people and (in a typical week) we do 50 or so operations to help people (who had no hope of ever having a normal life again) to function pain free and regain their mobility.  As wonderful as it is to perform these surgeries at home, in these other countries it is that much more rewarding. I have also been able to bring several members of my team from Connecticut to work with me. They all describe the experience as transforming, and I am so proud of the work that they do, their care and dedication.

What are Your Goals for Easton?

It’s all about leadership, collaboration, and having a long-term vision for the future of Easton. The Board of Selectmen has a responsibility to ensure that citizens know what’s going on in town and provide a forum for them to participate in making decisions about our future.  And, the Board has a responsibility to help Easton residents exchange ideas in a respectful and inclusive manner. 

We have been walking throughout the community and talking to Easton residents, and they are asking for more opportunity to understand, to be heard, and to participate in shaping Easton’s future. They want to see Easton thrive, and that includes finding ways to attract new people to town which will strengthen our property values and tax base. They want to find more ways to build community. They want to preserve our open spaces. They want our youngest and oldest residents to feel safe and assured knowing that they can continue to flourish in Easton. They want leaders who can demonstrate what is possible – and do so with energy, compassion and openness.

I’m running for First Selectman along with Bob Lessler who has served our town as Selectman for twenty years. We are leaders who will have an open mind and transparent approach to solving problems. We will work to articulate issues and solutions clearly, concisely and intelligently. We will always lead in a civil and courteous manner. We promise to listen to all stakeholders, and to work in partnership with everyone in Easton. Together, we can build a sustainable future for Easton. We hope you’ll come out to one of the upcoming Q&A events with the candidates in October, so you can be informed before you head to the polls. Join us by voting Democratic on November 5th at Samuel Staples Elementary School, and feel free to reach out to us if you have any questions or concerns. We want to hear what matters to you!

Easton Democrats Excited to Bring Attention to Local Elections

Four Events Featuring Candidates for Town Government Will Be Held in the Weeks Leading Up to the November 2019 Municipal Elections

Easton, CT DTC Candidates with Senator Chris Murphy
Pictured from left to right: State Rep. Anne Hughes, Gloria Bindelglass, Walter Kowalczyk, Stephanie Christie, Doug Bilinski, Lise Fleuette, Karen O’Brien, Katy Reed, U.S. Senator Chris Murphy, David Bindelglass, Bob Lessler, Devon Wible, Tara Donnelly Gottlieb, and Chair of the CT Democratic Party and former Lt. Governor, Nancy Wyman

To increase awareness, voter participation, and turnout for the November 5th, 2019 elections, the Easton Democratic and Republican Town Committees have jointly announced that they will hold a series of moderated Q&A events and a meet and greet with the candidates on the following dates…

  1. Sunday, October 13th at Samuel Staples Elementary School Auditorium
    • Q&A – Hear from the candidates for First Selectman and Selectman at 1pm.
  2. Sunday, October 20th at the Easton Public Library Community Room
    • Q&A – Hear from the candidates for the Board of Finance at 2pm.
  3. Wednesday, October 23rd at the Easton Public Library Community Room 
    • Q&A – Hear from the candidates for the Region 9 Board of Education at 7pm.
  4. Friday, October 25th at the Easton Senior Center
    • Meet & Greet – Meet the candidates for various offices at 1pm, and ask the BOS, BOF, and Region 9 candidates your questions while you mingle.

Members of the public are invited to attend, ask questions, and voice concerns. Candidates will field questions on issues including budgets, education funding, Joel Barlow High School, and topics related to the different offices candidates are seeking.

Residents are encouraged to submit questions to the moderators on the day of the Q&A events, some of which will be selected by both committees depending on session timing. If you are unable to attend any of the events, you are welcome to submit your questions or feedback to Easton Democrats using this online form.

“We want voters to head to the ballot box fully informed about the issues and the candidates,” said Nanette DeWester, Chair of the Easton Democratic Town Committee. “Easton Democrats are excited that this is the first time a Democratic candidate has challenged a Republican candidate for First Selectman since 2009, and we are pleased to offer voters a nearly full slate of 17 candidates to give voters a real choice in who they choose to lead our town,” explained DeWester.

The Easton Democratic Town Committee has offered to coordinate transportation for community members who need assistance getting to the polls. All eligible voters can register to vote online before November 5th and fill out an absentee ballot as well. If you are unsure about your registration due to a recent move, check your town status as soon as possible as it may require an update before November.

To learn more about Easton’s Democratic candidates for the 2019 municipal elections, please visit their website and email Nanette DeWester if you have any questions at: eastondems@gmail.com.

Click here to learn more about Devon Wible, Candidate for Board of Finance >>
Click here to learn more about Bob Lessler, Candidate for Board of Selectman >>

Spotlight Feature Series: Meet Devon Wible, Candidate for Board of Finance in Easton, CT

Why are you running for election to the Board of Finance?

I’m a mommy to three boys, and I care deeply about building a sustainable community for all Easton residents. Those who’ve met me (or have had a chance to work with me as an alternate on the Board of Finance), can easily say that I’m passionate about funding our schools and keeping class sizes small, preserving our town’s bucolic landscape, and protecting our seniors by controlling the mill rate. I want to continue to work on how we manage spending in town and seek new sources of revenue other than increasing the burden on individual tax payers. My goal is to do all of this with transparency, empathy, and an understanding for the needs of others in town.

Where can you be found around town, and with whom or doing what?

I can be found with my family at the soccer fields next to Samuel Staples Elementary School (SSES) watching Lewis (6.5) and Robert (almost 4) play. We also spend time at the ECC and within SSES where I volunteer as part of the PTO. I also love grabbing a cup of coffee at Greiser’s or lunch at EVS (the soup is amazing!). We spend time hiking the local trails or at Silverman’s Farm picking fruit or feeding the animals. We also have a 14-year-old puggle named Kahli. She is a bit of an escape artist and is well-known around our neighborhood (oh the laughs she provides our neighbors with). Kahli also loves to eat and is always tricking us into feeding her an extra meal. We let it slide… because dogs are the best!

Tell us something unique about you or your past that others might not know?

I am a huge sports fan. I played Varsity softball at Princeton (was a catcher) — was a regional All-American and an All-Ivy selection. I also played slow pitch softball before our youngest, Oliver, came along and now love supporting my kids while they play sports. I am also a huge Cubs and Broncos fan.

What is something that you wish you knew sooner about town and how can you help others as they seek this info too?

I wish I knew how the whole budgeting process worked for our town and our schools. I thought the Board of Education set the school budget, but in reality they are reacting to what the Board of Finance sets. I also didn’t realize how much our voices matter, and how important it is to attend meetings and speak during public comment.

Now that I have learned these things and other ways that the town operates, I would love to tackle how we raise revenue locally. Our town relies solely on personal property taxes and needs to find ways to raise revenue in a way that is in line with Easton’s values. If you care about our school budgets, seeking new sources of revenue, and making sure that we protect the people, property values, and resources that we know and love – join us and vote Democratic on 11/5 at SSES! I’d also love your support if you can donate towards my campaign as well. See you at the polls!

Devon pictured here with her husband and three sons

Spotlight Feature Series: Meet Bob Lessler, Candidate for Board of Selectmen in Easton, CT

What's something that others may not know about you?

Growing up in Fairfield, my dad always had a boat. My summer Sundays were spent on the Pe-Ter-Rob and later on the Pe-Ter-Rob II, the boats my dad owned and named after his three children, Peter Terri, and me, Robert. I learned to water ski and fish and enjoy the water on those boats as a kid.

Later, my wife and two daughters spent time on the Pe-Ter-Rob II, always with my dad at the helm. Indeed, my wife and I spent our second date on the boat. She was a bit mortified because she ended up meeting most of my family that day while in her bikini on my dad’s boat. But that’s another story.

I never owned a boat myself. While my family continued to enjoy boating and the water on the Pe-Ter-Rob II, we just felt we didn’t have the time or inclination to take on boat ownership and the financial and time commitment it requires.

My wife and I did, however, enjoy kayaking as a substitute. Over the years, we had many opportunities to go kayaking on various vacations. Later, it became a bit of a family joke that I was going to buy a kayak one day. I didn’t do it, though, because I didn’t want the commitment and I didn’t think I would get enough use out of one. More recently, the idea of a roof rack and lifting, maintaining and off-season storing an 8, 10, 12 or more foot kayak seemed like too much of a hassle.

As we were planning our summer vacation in 2017, however, my wife stumbled upon the concept of a modular kayak. These are kayaks that are essentially cut in two or three sections and telescope inside each other during transport and for storage. They are clipped together with watertight gaskets when in use. This seemed to be the answer to my dream! After doing some due diligence, I discovered that while modular kayaks weren’t actually on the market yet, inflatable kayaks were. We bought a tandem inflatable kayak for our trip to Acadia National Park in Maine in August 2017. And a hobbyist was born! We are strictly recreational kayakers and our boat is not a performance vehicle. Nevertheless, now my wife and I love to take our kayak everywhere. It folds into a carrying case about the size of a large suitcase. We throw it in the back of the SUV and off we go. In less than 15 minutes at the put in sight, we are paddling away – Acadia, Essex, Milford, Westport, Fairfield – wherever we can. It usually generates some great conversation by the water as inflatable kayaks are not common. When we finish, we just deflate it and throw it in the back of the car and head home – or maybe for ice cream first.

Bob pictured with his grand-dog, Quinn, paddling on the Saugatuck River in Westport.

Can you share more about your experience since you are up for re-election in Nov?

I’ve been an Easton Selectmen for ten terms and member of the Board of Finance for four years, so I have a great deal of institutional memory to offer. I’ve been a strong supporter of our public schools, open space preservation and acquisition, as well as senior tax relief.

I am committed to maintaining and enhancing our public school system and protecting our unique rural character. I want to find a revenue-positive use for the South Park Avenue property. I will encourage community-building activities and recreational opportunities consistent with our new plan of conservation and development too.

I’m proud to live here and to have raised my family here. I want others to be able to grow and benefit from all that Easton offers as well. It’s truly a special place and a gem of Fairfield County! David and I look forward to serving you, and if you’d like to learn more you can visit us online.

Town Projects and Initiatives

Joel Barlow High School entrance
The street entrance of Joel Barlow High School showing the new paver stones and curbing installed during the summer of 2019.

There’s been a lot of discussion around town regarding a few items that Easton Democrats thought were important to address. We realize that it’s hard to get information from a town website that is fairly basic, and since we don’t have a newspaper or a local news outlet that is interested in sharing our small town updates… our residents are left in the dark about projects and initiatives around town. The Easton Democratic Town Committee (DTC) wants to change that. 

We want to lead with transparency and take a proactive approach on important items that can affect us all.

With this in mind, we’d like to highlight two items that have come to our attention in an effort to foster dialog and encourage healthy conversations, update our residents so they can make informed decisions, and work with our neighbors on finding solutions that improve the quality of life for everyone who calls Easton home.

The concerns that residents have brought to the attention of our leadership are…

1. Belgium blocks and granite curbing at Joel Barlow High School

    • Our Region 9 Board of Ed created a detailed PDF regarding the “Barlow Campus Improvement Project” which had board member and community support. Please feel free to click on the link above for more information on how the reps came to their decision, and a great resource for Region 9 parents and the community is the presentations page of the Region 9 part of the ER9 website. This is where you can find this PDF, go back to previous months meetings, and learn more about the improvements at Barlow.
    • Also, did you know that you can watch all of the Region 9 Board of Education meetings via YouTube? That’s right, they’ve been uploading them for some time now in an effort to ensure that parents and the community can stay informed on decision making and other discussions pertaining to Joel Barlow, finances, etc. You can subscribe to get updates when a new video has been added.
    • As you’ll see detailed and discussed in all of the presentations and links provided, low cost today is not always the least amount of cost over time. The advantage of a lower initial cost is negated by durability, longevity, and reusability. 

2. The Fields on Morehouse Road and interest from Sacred Heart University 

    • On 9/4/19 at our monthly Democratic Town Committee meeting Bob Lessler communicated to our members that the Board of Selectmen had just been informed about interest in the fields located on Morehouse Road adjacent to the soccer and baseball fields from Sacred Heart University. This interest was discussed at the next BOS meeting, and you’ll notice in the agenda from 9/5 that there is mention of a presentation of a proposal in item #7. And as shared in the minutes from 9/5, there are three components of the proposal (8 tennis courts, an artificial turf field hockey field, and a walking or hiking trail). 
    • After a vote, it was moved to the Planning and Zoning Commission for further discussion on 9/9, and as stated in this PDF of the minutes the commission recommended a favorable response, and determined that the proposed uses are consistent with the Easton Plan of Conservation and Development from 2018 – 2028.
    • The Easton DTC recommends a public information session to the Board of Selectmen about the proposed items, including the construction and maintenance (all would be built and maintained by SHU) so the community can be part of the conversation on the leasing of our land and the build out of this facility, and what the pros and cons are for Easton residents and our quality of life.

Do you have other questions or concerns that you’d like to share with us? Finding nonpartisan solutions is important to us, and we’ve put together this form that you can fill out to submit your feedback to share with the Easton DTC and your elected Democratic officials. Also, you can sign up for our newsletter via the form above or by using the button below too. 

Stay tuned for updates on the South Park Ave bridge construction, and a path from Helen Keller Middle School to Silverman’s Farm that may be in the works in the future. We look forward to hearing from you!

Spotlight Feature Series: Meet Tara Donnelly Gottlieb, Candidate for Board of Finance in Easton, CT

Why do you believe that you are a good fit for this role?

Everyday, I work with individuals from every walk of life to find resolutions to complex financial challenges. In Easton, I would do so by listening to our residents to ensure that our solutions echo our values. As a real estate executive, I understand what drives home values and know how to preserve and grow that value. As a CPA, I understand the need for revenue generation, and I truly believe that we can work together for the benefit of our town and to preserve its charm while tackling this issue. As a mom, I understand the importance of a high quality education. After all, my husband and I chose to raise our family in Easton because of the amazing schools. I have a vested interest in the future of Easton.

Why did you decide to run for Board of Finance and why now?

My career in finance was a well thought out path. I majored in Accounting, earned an MBA in Finance and became a CPA. As my career progressed, I fell in love with the real estate industry. So much so that I went back to school and earned a Masters in Real Estate from NYU while working full time. This part of my life has more or less made sense.

Advocacy and politics is not a path I planned to find myself on. I grew up in Bridgeport, the third generation in my family to do so, with all of my great grandparents having been born in Ireland. My parents owned an Irish family jewelry store. They were hard working, simple, and perhaps two of the kindest people I’ve ever known. In 2005, I had just graduated from Fairfield University and moved to NYC, when I received the phone call that would forever change my life. Our family store in Fairfield had been robbed. Upon arriving at Bridgeport Hospital, I would learn that during the robbery, both of my parents had been shot multiple times. Neither survived.

The years that followed were challenging – processing grief while navigating New York City on my own as a young professional. It was not an easy time. I am very grateful for wonderful family and friends that provided so much support. As the culture in our country began to change and reports of shooting deaths became more and more common, my first reaction would always be a feeling of heartbreak, understanding in a way that only a survivor can, the pain that the victim’s family would endure. I would then find myself wondering, why isn’t anyone doing anything about this? Eventually asking myself – what am I doing about this? It was not long after that I became a volunteer for Moms Demand Action, a grassroots movement of Americans fighting for public safety measures that can protect people from gun violence. I became the local Survivor Member lead and eventually a National Fellow for Everytown for Gun Safety. In this role, I share my story as a gun violence survivor to ensure that others receive the emotional, financial, and legal education and resources that they need to help improve their lives and futures. My volunteer work has direct and positive impact in the lives of others. I understand the importance of giving back and I am excited to blend my extensive experience in finance and giving back to Easton, the town that I love.

In this video taken in September, I addressed the crowd at a recent Senate Recess Rally held in New Haven, to urge Congress to act on gun safety legislation.

I want to be someone whom you can have open and honest discussions, and feel comfortable having the hard conversations too. Conversations that we’ll encounter as we try to move our town forward in the months and years ahead.

We can’t find solutions to these local and national problems that we are facing, unless we are willing to meet in that place of discomfort and work together – in unity – towards our goals.

What is something that others might not know about you?

I grew up in a running family. I competed in my first 4 mile road race at the age of 8. The sport was an enormous part of my upbringing. Starting at such a young age, it became a way of life. On vacation? Explore the town on a jog. Need to chat with dad? Throw on some sneakers and head out for a run together. It was not something I thought much about doing, I just did. After running cross country in both high school and college, I tackled my first marathon while living in New York City. During training for my second marathon (San Francisco), I suffered a knee injury that would set me back, a lot. Moving on from long distance running was not a welcome change, but I had no choice. Around the same time, I met my now husband. He is an avid skier. I had skied once, ever. Learning how to ski after 30 is not the most common or ideal time to learn. I spent the better part of the first two winters terrified, lots of children zooming by me, and just trying not to fall (because getting up could take awhile). After many, many hours and lessons, there was a point that it clicked. I went from fear, to sort of enjoying it, to loving it. I’ve worked my way up to handling the slopes in Vermont as well as out west and I’m very glad I stuck with it. My favorite part now is watching my fearless, young, daughter speed down the bunny hill. I’m savoring these years, as I know it won’t be long before I can no longer keep up with her!

Thank you to my family and friends for supporting my efforts to run for the Board of Finance in Easton. I have enjoyed connecting with so many of our neighbors already, and if any of you would like to support my campaign — I need volunteers to display lawn signs in Easton! Please email Devon and I at: EastonDemsBOF@gmail.com with your name and street address and we’ll get them to you ASAP! Also, check out a sneak peek of the blue and white sign design below and if you’d like to support my campaign I’d appreciate any donations to help offset costs as well. I look forward to meeting you all and serving our great community. 

I'm a CPA, financial executive, advocate, and mother of two, and I am committed to securing a for Easton.