Our 2021 Canidates
Planning & Zoning Candidate
Serving the community has always been a pleasure for me. As a young person, I was involved with Rotary club and participated in many different civic functions as an extension of my parents. The youngest in a working family, I focused on school and was fortunate to go to college on a nearly full merit scholarship where I studied political science and pre-law. Later I was lucky to have an employer fund my Master’s degree (Communication). Professionally I’ve advanced through a career in the legal industry in various marketing roles (presently marketing manager for Robinson+Cole in Hartford), learning both the art of campaigns and knowledge of the things that run our communities.
Currently I serve on the Charter Revision Commission. Previously I was appointed to the Board of Ethics, serving from 2017-2020. In addition to my political service for our community, I also serve as a Technology Deacon at First Church of Middletown.
The three most important P&Z related issues for me right now are balanced development (includes affordable housing, alternative energy), sidewalk/bicycle access, and observing buffer/green space/wastewater when considering zoning exceptions.
My life has had a lot of ups and downs, it’s my humble beginnings and the struggles I’ve experienced that keep me focused on serving the community. I’ve lived in many different places along the way, but Middletown is special to me. I look forward to meeting our citizens in person and welcome folks to approach me and say hello.
Board of Education Candidate
Ian was born in Killingworth, CT, and lived in Middletown for 4 years. He earned his Bachelor of Science in Computer Science at Central Connecticut State University. He works at Travelers as a Cloud Engineer.
Ian believes the future of the workforce will consist of a diversified technology focused field. He strongly believes students today should have a well-balanced curriculum of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics), Art, foundations of financial independence, and modern history reflecting on how the American justice system affects everyone.
Ian grew up with a learning disability and understands how hard it is for students to meet the expectations of parents, educators, and themselves. He understands not every student will perform the same way academically and strongly believes that how they perform does not reflect on their potential to be successful in their own terms.
He believes in rehabilitation over punishment and a focus on mental health awareness for our students.
Planning & Zoning Candidate
am a Fordham University graduate with my B.S. in Fashion Design and Business, and currently a graduate student in the Master of Public Administration program at University of New Haven. I am a New York City native, having been a resident of Connecticut for 12 years, residing in Meriden for 5 years prior to relocating to Middletown’s North End in 2015. I am currently a new homeowner in the Westfield section of town with my children.
While residing in Middletown I began employment as a paraprofessional for Middletown Public Schools before becoming a Family Resource Specialist at Macdonough Elementary. Both roles allowed me to serve on the School’s Governance Committees, engage in community events and partner with Dr. Conner on the Strategic Plan. I took this operational and community development mindset and applied it to my career within government.
My political career was spurred from my own personal experiences as a victim of Domestic Violence, who experienced Homelessness, Hunger and Workforce issues. I took these experiences and became an advocate within my community, starting with Women & Child Advocacy, Housing and Legal Matters. Alongside my employment with Middletown Public Schools, I served as a Youth Director for North End Action Team, which helped youth, some of which were LGBTQ with Domestic Violence, Homelessness and Housing matters. I have
partnered with numerous municipal, regional and statewide initiatives on Homelessness, Hunger, Housing, and Workforce Development. Previously serving as the Community Development Director for Middletown Green Community Center (Formerly Green Street Arts Center), a graduate of the Middlesex Chamber of Commerce’s Sidestreet To Main Street Business Leadership Program, a member of NAACP-Middlesex Chapter, Middletown Racial Justice Coalition and the Middlesex Immigration Rights Alliance. This advocacy led me to Volunteer for Representative Quentin Phipps, Senator Matthew Lesser, Senator Mary Abrams and Representative Brandon Chafee in the 2018 and 2020 election cycle.
Currently I am a WIOA Job Seeker Consultant for a Department of Labor subagency located in New Haven and a seasonal Residential Supervisor for Columbus Houses’ Warming Center. In my civic roles, I have participated in legislative testimony on issues surrounding zoning, housing, and domestic violence. I also currently serve as a Middletown Planning & Zoning Commission Alternate, a member of the Middletown Citizens Advisory Council, a member of CT Open Communities Alliance, the Team Lead for the statewide ShopBlackCT initiative which highlights Black Owned Businesses, as a member of the Governor’s Workforce Council, as Co-Chair of the Workforce Subgroup for the CT 2Gen Initiative under the Commission of Women, Children and Seniors, as Co-Chair of Middletown Works, the Vice President of the Russell Library, a member of the Middlesex MLK Scholarship Committee and as Vice Chair of Children in Placement, New Haven Chapter.
While on the Commission, I have been a part of approvals of developments and the city’s Plan of Conservation & Development process. My vision for Middletown is to have adequate and affordable housing, ensure that our zoning codes and laws are equitable for all; particularly people of color who are at a greater disadvantage as it relates to housing matters, ensure we have more approvals for developers of color, and create job opportunities within Middletown. Middletown is on the rise as a place to live and thrive and I would love to continue the work that we as a Commission have already started.
I have a proven track record of execution as it relates to community development. My extensive knowledge in the public and non-profit sector, laws and regulations, and leadership skills make me a great fit for a full and vocal seat on the Commission. As a mother and woman of color, those factors will remain the impetus for why I choose to maintain a role in public service and serve my community.
Planning & Zoning Alternate Candidate
I know Middletown is a special, diverse place with artists, professionals, families, and long- time community residents that all add value. It’s why I chose Middletown as my home and why I will continue to work towards keeping Middletown affordable and accessible to all. I believe Middletown is the best city in Connecticut and look to continue our progress to make the city a source of pride for everyone who lives and works in our community.
I spent 4 years working with the local business community from grand openings to community events as the Director of Marketing & Relations at Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce. In that role, a high point was helping to promote and run the social media for the first Middletown Pride. I currently work at the Connecticut General Assembly assisting constituents as a Legislative Aide.
I am a commission member of Middletown’s Citizens Advisory Committee helping to oversee how the funds for the Department Housing and Urban Development's Community Development Block Grant are distributed throughout the city.
I am also proud to be the Chair of the Middletown Democratic Town Committee and I encourage everyone to get involved in this important election and look at the rest of the Middletown Democrats 2021 slate on Row A.
Board of Education Candidate
I was born and raised in Middletown, attended public schools and graduated from Middlesex Community College. I am widower raising three boys ages 14, twins that are 12 and have 1 grown son. I am a retired State of Connecticut employee and was a past business owner on the North End.
Presently, I am the Vice President for the Greater Hartford Progressive Democratic Women's Club, 3rd Vice President of the Connecticut Federation of Democratic Women, a member of the National Federation of Democratic Women. Also, I am a board member of the American Legion Post 206, 2nd Vice President for the American Legion Auxiliary Post 206, serve on the Citizen Advisory Committee and member of Middletown of the Democratic Town Committee.
After retiring, I worked as a Guardian Ad Liem (GAL) for Children In Placement ,Inc., Women and Families Project Reach Program and my husband and I was foster parents for Department of Children and Families.
From 2005 - 2008, I volunteered at the Middletown High School as a monitor in the school cafeteria, helped with open mic for teenagers at the Buttonwood and assisted with four Black History Extravaganza's at Middletown High.
Since 2009, myself and two other women have been running a mentoring program at Middletown High School for girls called GIFTS (Girls Inspired for Total Success).
Board of Education Candidate
I have been a resident in Middletown for 11 years. I have served in the nonprofit and education sectors for over 20 years. My wife and I have four children; 2 who are grown up (graduated from MHS) and 2 who currently attend Farm Hill Elementary. My career (my passion) has always been focused on community development with an emphasis on supporting and educating all children. I have been directly involved with many initiatives focused on reducing, with the goal of eliminating, the achievement gap and ensuring all children have equitable & quality educational opportunities. I currently work as the Director of Operations and Human Resources at Booker T. Washington Academy, a K-8 school in New Haven. I am driven to support my local community and believe my experience and knowledge make me a great fit for the Middletown Board of Education. My vision for Middletown Public Schools is that our entire community work together to remain student-focused and forward thinking. The work that must be done, or built on, should include communication and collaboration. I believe that in public education, we must engage in the open dialogue when it comes to tough topics, stay focused on safety and mental health, and always put our students first.
Board of Education Candidate
My name is Debra Guss and I’m a corporate attorney with Otis Elevator Company, having joined them after working in various legal positions with United Technologies Corporation, including Pratt & Whitney, for close to 20 years. Middletown has been my home for the last 27 years, although I did live here for an additional four years while attending Wesleyan University in the eighties. I returned to this wonderful town when my husband, Steve Angle, joined the faculty of Wesleyan and I have never looked back. Both my daughters, Samantha and Rachel Angle, were born here and attended Middletown public schools from Wesley to Middletown High School. Now that they are settled, I’m at a point in my life that I feel it is important to give back to the Middletown community, especially to the school system, which provided my daughters with a first-rate education and a very grounded view of the world. I truly value the diversity of our town and our school system. It should be a system for which all children are given the opportunity to thrive. The strength of Middletown schools has always been our teachers. I believe they need to be respected, listened to and provided the resources to focus on teaching. With many experienced teachers leaving the profession, we need to make sure that the next generation of teachers are provided the support needed to develop into the same high caliber educators. I believe that our educational system offers the best hope of making progress on many of the challenges that we face as a country and I will work hard for Middletown students to make sure our school system is up for the challenge.
Planning & Zoning Candidate
My name is Brian Gartner, and I am one of the Endorsed Democratic Candidates running for a seat on the Middletown Planning & Zoning Commission. I am hoping to seek your support in running for this elected office.
For a little background on myself. I was born and raised in Middletown. I attended Middletown Public Schools, and Vinal Technical High School. I am the proud father of three young men. I am a lifelong Democrat. My family has called Middletown home for over one hundred and ten years. This wonderful City has provided a home for five generations of my family including my own children. My interest in political matters begun at a very young age. My maternal grandmother was very involved in political matters here in town, and helped laid the seed for my future involvement.
I currently serve as a member on five City Commissions/Committees, and have served on six overall.
I currently serve on the following:
1. Commission on Conservation & Agriculture
2. Inland/Wetlands and Watercourses Agency
3. Water Pollution Control Authority
4. Mattabassett Regionalization Building Committee
5. Mayor’s Task Force on Anti-Racism
I have served as the Vice Chairman of the Middletown Commission on Conservation and Agriculture for the last five years, and I have been a member of that body, and its predecessor body for about a year prior. Both the IWWA & the CCA are advisory bodies to P&Z, and I personally believe seeking election to the P&Z is the next logical step to take.
I initially brought diversity to CC/CCA by bringing a new generation into the fold that was previously unrepresented.
I have personally have seen how much Middletown has changed, and evolved over the course of the last thirty plus years. I believe we are at a pivotal moment in the history of Middletown. We are currently at the crossroads of several major projects including probably the biggest one of our generation which is reconnecting our residents with our greatest natural resource which is the Connecticut River. We are at a point where decisions we make now will undoubtedly impact future generations to come, just as past decisions have impacted each and every one of us. We have the chance to undue countless planning mistakes of the past, and create a cohesive, pedestrian friendly, green, vibrant, and economically successful City for all of our residents to enjoy.
Participation on a board or commission is one of the most effective steps citizens can take in having an active voice in their government. The opportunity to serve as an appointed official has been a fantastic and rewarding experience for me. I hope that by seeking elected office it will lead to continued opportunities to serve my community. I hope to help expand upon the work that the current DTC has already begun. During the time I have been involved with civic activities I have continually advocated for projects that would increase the quality of life for all residents of Middletown to enjoy.
I would also like to reiterate my support for democratic issues and causes. I look forward to working with each and every one of you to continue to help better our City.