2017 Candidates for Office

Killingworth Democratic Slate for November 2017 Elections

Cathy Iino — First Selectwoman

Lou Annino Jr. — Selectman

Dawn Rees Mooney — Town Clerk

Claudette Lagasse — Town Treasurer

Annie Stirna — Board of Finance

Gwenne Celmer — Board of Finance

Matthew Stillman — Board of Assessment of Appeals

Stephanie Warren — Planning & Zoning Commission

Geoffrey Cook — Planning & Zoning Commission

Joan Gay — Planning & Zoning Commission

Bryan Young— Zoning Board of Appeals

Ben Charney — Zoning Board of Appeals Alternate

Brian Mahoney — Fire Commissioner

Kathleen Zandi— Board of Education

Joan Gay

Candidate for Planning and Zoning Commission

I have served on the P&Z Commission for the past 4 years.  I enjoy being on the Planning and Zoning Commission where I can contribute to balancing Killingworth’s rural character with the growth in population, buildings and businesses as well as planning for Killingworth’s future.  A Killingworth resident for 49 years, I value our rural atmosphere, open spaces, wonderful people, school system, library, recreation areas, great organizations that provide valued contributions to town and help to those who need it, and our volunteers on Boards and Commissions.

I also am Vice-President on the Conservation Commission, a member on the Killingworth  Community Fund Committee (formerly the Killingworth Foundation), a member of the Refugee Resettlement Coalition Group besides being a volunteer at the Killingworth Library.  I represent Killingworth on the 9 Town Estuary Board of Directors.

In past years, I have served on the Board of Finance, was Co-Chair of the first Killingworth Charter Commission and Co-Chair of the first Killingworth Charter Revision Commission, and was on the Killingworth Ambulance Association’s Board of Directors.

I value living in Killingworth and I believe in giving back to the community that has provided quality life for my family and for all residents of Killingworth. 


Questions for the Candidate

What do you love about Killingworth?  

Everything – the rural atmosphere, open spaces, wonderful people, great organizations providing valued contributions to town and help to those who need it, the school system, the recreation areas.  A great place to live in and bring up children.

Why are you running for this position?   

Because I care about Killingworth and I believe in giving back to the community that has provided quality living for my family and for all residents of Killingworth

What are your qualifications for this position?  

Have served on Planning and Zoning Commission as an Alternate for the past 4 years.  Have knowledge of the regulations and have contributed to the Killingworth Plan of Conservation and Development to be effective in 2018

What is your favorite Killingworth town landmark/business?  

Killingworth Library

Who is an influential person in your life?  

My mother who instilled in my sister and me a disciplined approach to life and who stressed being good to others

Can you share the story of a community project you were involved in that was both meaningful for you and helped the town?  

Representing Killingworth on 9 Town Transit and being instrumental in facilitating the Route 81 bus service that has received federal funding but still needs the 20& match from CT DOT.

What organizations in town—or out of town—do you belong to?  

9 Town Transit, Director on Killingworth Foundation, Vice-chair of Conservation Commission, Library Volunteer, American Association of University Women

Any fun facts about yourself?  

I enjoy playing duplicate bridge.

Claudette Lagasse

Candidate for Treasurer

Claudette has served the town as Treasurer for five terms (10 years) with impeccable integrity and reliability. She has a great deal of experience both in and out of local government. She is a long time resident of Killingworth and is active in our community. Claudette and her husband Donald have been married for almost 57 years and have lived in Killingworth for 48 years. Donald has been a Killingworth Volunteer Fireman for 42 years. They have four children – Daphne, Mark, Dorothy and Marie, and two granddaughters.

In addition to her twelve years working as our Treasurer, Claudette has held the following positions:

• Regional School District 4 – Fourteen years as an Administrative Assistant in charge of personnel where she was responsible for salary data for 400 employees, tracking teacher’s certification, completion of State of Connecticut reports and providing budget assistance in a five town school district’s budget system;

• Aetna – Two years as an Administrative Assistant for nine Insurance Analysts;

• Regional School District 17 – Twelve years working as Assistant Secretary, Library and Teacher Assistant.

• Bookkeeper – Five years managing finances for my husband’s business.

Claudette is an avid volunteer in Killingworth. She serves on the Board of Directors, is the archivist, and served several terms as Treasurer for the Killingworth Historical Society. She is an active participant in society events, and serves as co-chair of their annual Tag Sale. She and Donald have been members of St. Lawrence Catholic Church since moving to Killingworth. Claudette has also been involved with the Killingworth Library Association.

Questions for the Candidate

Why are you running for the Treasurer’s position?

I’ve been doing the job for 12 years and because of my experience working with town hall employees, the staff at TD Bank, and the Board of Finance, I know I can continue to serve the town in this capacity.

What inspired you to go into public service?

I was asked years ago if I wanted to serve. I’ve been involved in quite a few volunteer organizations over the past 47 years and felt I wanted to continue to serve the town as long as possible.

Stephanie Warren

Candidate for Planning and Zoning

I moved to Killingworth just over twenty years ago, attracted by its rural nature and the general  friendly and positive feel of the Killingworth community. My (adult) kids are amazed that I have lived  in Killingworth for so long, as previously I have lived all over the country, partially related to work positions.

Killingworth has proven to be a wonderful community to live in, with all of the country and rural features that make it so beautiful and peaceful, and neighbors and local friends who make the meaning of “community” so lovely. In order to give back to Killingworth and to help it retain its character, I have been serving on the Killingworth Conservation Commission since 2001. Based on my work in that group, I was then appointed to the CT. River Estuary Board (CREPA) and remained on that board until CREPA evolved into the RiverCOG and the Lower Connecticut River Valley Regional Planning and Development Committee, of which I have been an active member since it started over 5 years ago. My service continues and so far I have logged in over 10 years. The focus of these services is to ensure that Killingworth town needs are appropriately incorporated into regional planning and development projects.

Four years ago, I was asked to run for a seat on the Killingworth Planning and Zoning Commission and to my surprise, I got voted in. Now I am up for re-election and really, really want to continue to be able to work toward providing and insuring that Killingworth Residents’ needs, and wishes for our community get addressed and honored. That is one reason why I agreed to spearhead the Town Survey that you all received last year. We have analyzed all of the responses from that survey and the data will be available in the Killingworth Town Plan of Conservation and Development.

It would be a great privilege to be able to continue to work on that, by continuing on the Planning and Zoning Commission. Hopefully, I will get YOUR VOTE!

Ben Charney

Candidate for Zoning Board of Appeals Alternate

I am a lifelong  resident of Connecticut, a  graduate of UConn and a native of Guilford.

I’ve been fascinated with cars, engines and construction for my entire life.  A love of drawing and photography led me to pursue a degree in fine arts and then to work as a graphic designer at a large architectural firm. I ultimately combined my mechanical and technical curiosities with my interest in buildings and presently in the field of HVAC and Building Automation.  

My wife and I have been proud to call Killingworth home since 2016 and look forward to giving back to the community for years to come.  


Questions for the Candidate

Why are you running for zoning board of appeals alternate?

With a lifelong interest in building, professional experience in architecture, and HVAC as well as a desire to help others I feel that this position is a great fit for me.  The Zoning Board of Appeals serves a necessary service, especially in a small town.  Studying art taught me to keep an open mind and my career in HVAC and Building Automation has prepared me to seek creative solutions to unique problems.

What inspired you to go into public service? 

Neighbors helping neighbors is what small town life is all about.  Killingworth is a special place and giving back to this community is very important to me.

What’s your favorite KW business? 

It has to be a tie between La Foresta and the Cooking Company; great towns attract great food!

Favorite KW landmark?

Definitely Parmelee Farm.  I’ve lived most of my life in the area and watching the transformation of the Farm over the past several years has been remarkable.

Favorite day to go the transfer station?   

Thursday evening; the line is shorter and it’s the perfect way to prepare to end the week.

Any other fun facts or anything you care to add? 

I enjoy night photography, mostly landscape and architectural themes.  Taking photographs with little to no light has always fascinated me and it’s one of my favorite ways to relax on vacation.

Brian Mahoney

Candidate for Fire Commissioner

For many years I volunteered with the Killingworth Ambulance. During that time I developed a good working relationship with the fire company, and I’m eager to continue my association with them.

Gwenne Celmer

Candidate for Board of Finance

Gwenne Celmer has served on the Board of Finance for the past 12 years, currently as Vice Chair. She has also served on town commissions and committees – often as Chair – including the Conservation Commission, Field Study Committee and Town Hall Building Committee, and served as Acting Chair of the Killingworth Democratic Town Committee.

In her professional career, Gwenne has managed creative departments at major advertising agencies in New York and Philadelphia, overseeing budgets ranging from multimillion-dollar global accounts to small local projects. 

Her current business, Gwenne Celmer Marketing Services, provides medical and strategic content for pharmaceutical sales training and marketing communications for life sciences and technology companies.




Questions for the Candidate

What do you love about Killingworth?

Its privacy and natural beauty – a uniquely small town setting so close to suburban conveniences and urban centers.

Why are you running for this position?

Commitment to help safeguard the fiscal vitality of the town and its residents.

What are your qualifications for this position?

I have served on the Board of Finance for the past 12 years. During that time I’ve grown to understand the needs of the many stakeholders Killingworth depends on to support our infrastructure, ensure our well-being and safety, and provide the rich variety of cultural and recreational opportunities we all enjoy. My experience has also taught me how essential it is to anticipate change, forecast developments, and plan for them over the long term.

In the course of my professional career, I’ve managed creative departments at major advertising agencies in NYC and Philadelphia, overseeing budgets ranging from multimillion dollar global accounts to small local projects.

What inspired you to go into public service?

My firm belief that public participation is the bedrock of a democratic society.

What is your favorite Killingworth town landmark/business?

The Killingworth Library, Parmelee Farm, and the thriving businesses near the traffic circle are among the many places that help define Killingworth.

What would you like to improve in Killingworth?  To change?  

I would like to see a better informed, more active community, with greater civic involvement at all levels – from attendance at town meetings to volunteer efforts and service on committees and commissions. In addition, I have long advocated for state legislation that would give towns in regional school districts like ours the opportunity for direct oversight of school budgets. It may be surprising to some of our residents, but under current state law that is not an option for us.

Can you share the story of a community project you were involved in that was both meaningful for you and helped the town?

As a past Chair of the Field Study Committee I was privileged to have played a part in making both Bethke Field and the Eric W. Auer Killingworth Recreational Park a reality.

What organizations in town—or out of town—do you belong to?

In my 14 years in Killingworth I’ve served on numerous town committees and commissions.

Lou Annino Jr.

Candidate for Selectman

I’m Lou Annino, Jr., and I’m running for the Board of Selectman. I’m a fourth generation resident of Killingworth, and have had the privilege for the past six years to serve as selectman. I hope for re-election to continue to serve responsibly so that all of us will have the opportunity to thrive in Killingworth.

My pledge if re-elected includes: managing our tax dollars responsibly, keeping our roads and town safe, maintaining its rural character, ensuring quality education from our schools, providing commercial opportunities that support the needs of the town, and making available balanced and varied housing opportunities.

I’ve spent better than half my life serving this community as a volunteer. During my tenure as selectman, I’ve played a leadership role in fiscal responsibility. I led the charge for development of a strategic capital plan while carefully managing our precious operating dollars. This has led to nearly flat operating budgets and responsible capital planning. In addition, I’ve worked to strengthen municipal services through staff accountability and improvements in interdepartmental communication and cooperation.

As a Planning & Zoning Commission member for more than 20 years, my record of balancing the growth needs of Killingworth along with maintaining its rural character speaks to my commitment to our town.

My experience as a registered professional engineer with nearly 30 years of facilities management experience including at Yale University, Bayer Corporation, and currently as the chief facilities officer at the University of New Haven, combined with my public service experience, make me uniquely qualified for the position of selectman. This experience includes budget and staff management, strategic planning, road, facility and infrastructure planning and maintenance, emergency management, and a track record of creativity, leadership, and integrity.

I encourage you to vote for me, Louis Annino, Jr., for selectman on Nov. 7.

Cathy Iino

Candidate for First Selectwoman

Most Killingworthies know that I am their first selectman, so I won’t introduce myself. But people ask me why I am running again, so let me say a little about that.

The more I do in this, the more I see what could be done to make Killingworth an even better place to live. Residents come forward with their own ideas—such as a backpack program to alleviate child hunger or a way to honor veterans—and I mobilize to support their efforts. New enterprises that suit our town’s character—say, La Foresta or Bishop’s cranberry bog—want to come to town, and I work hard to help them navigate the local, state, and even federal approval processes. I link up local groups with shared interests to make them even more effective. Increasingly, I have taken a leadership role in local and state organizations that advocate in behalf of small towns like ours.

We have accomplished a lot since I’ve been in office, and I don’t want to lose momentum. My priorities for the next two years are to find ways to make our small commercial district vibrant and prevent Route 81 from succumbing to suburban sprawl; to plan for the demographic changes that are coming—specifically, the aging of our population; and to seek out funding to relieve the tax burden on individual property owners.

I have described myself as a drum major for Killingworth. The music comes from a fabulous marching band of volunteers—musicians who know how to play their instruments, read the music, and create rhythm and harmony. I make sure they are all marching in the same direction and have the instruments they need to perform well.

Together, we keep the beat lively and the parade moving forward.

First Selectman Catherine Iino