Local Figures Come to Hotchkiss for Discussion

The Hotchkiss Democrats and Hotchkiss Republicans recently focused on issues local to Salisbury, Connecticut. On April 8, 2019, a Small Government Symposium was held here at Hotchkiss, in which politicians and citizens involved in local politics participated in panel discussions on the impact of population decline on jobs and school services, as well as the drug crisis. Panel members included Salisbury First Selectman Curtis Rand and Salisbury Selectman Don Mayland; Superintendent of Regional Schools Pam Vogel; Member of the Salisbury School Board Jacquie Rice; School Board Vice-Chair David Bayersdorfer; 64th District State Representative Maria Horn; members of the Cornwall EMT and Fire Department; recovered addict Skip Kosciusko; and Vice President of Harney and Sons Mike Harney.

The event was inspired by both student interest and the community wanting a discussion on these topics. “Many students had gone to local debates for the election earlier this fall,” said Priyanka Kumar ’19, one of the event’s organizers. The Democrat and Republican clubs at Hotchkiss rallied support for the event and made sure of student turn out. Kumar, as well as other organizers, additionally credit Mr. Ryan Perrenoud, the Republican Faculty Advisor, for helping organize.“Mr. Perrenoud, with the Republican Town Committee, did work inviting the guests and local townspeople” praised Priyanka.

The symposium focused on the effects of a declining population in Northeast Connecticut. Many speakers, including Mr. Rand, Mr. Harney, Ms. Rice, and Mr. Mayland attributed the drop in population to expensive real estate, which is a barrier to many families’ ability to move into the area.

Skip Kosciusko, a recovered addict and local resident, shared his personal hardships and shed light on the problem of addiction. Skip closed the evening with an open-ended question leaving a lingering thought in the mind of the audience. “What can we do as a community to help people that are dangerous and unstable,” started Skip “and how can we get that person to get to a point to raise public awareness?”

All in all, the event was a success by the organizers. The crowd was engrossed by the interesting information, and most left with a newfound sense of the local situation. Most of the insights of the evening key statements can be summed up by into a sentence spoken by Mr. Rand: “[Let’s] keep Salisbury a good place to live.”

“The students who came got great insight into the workings of local government and our town’s community,” said Leo Poggi, one of the co-heads of Hotchkiss Republicans and an event organizer. “The Salisbury Republicans had a great venue to stage their event, publicize their opinions, and spark interest in young people.”