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Author: Don Obrien

Six candidates vying for four seats on Stamford Board of Finance


STAMFORD — There are six candidates running for four open seats on the Stamford Board of Finance this year, but only one seat is truly up for grabs.

The two Republicans currently on the board are up for re-election this year, but neither is running. Frank Cerasoli is seeking a seat in District 15 on the Board of Representatives, while Kieran Ryan is not competing in any local races.

The Board of Finance operates under a minority representation rule, which stipulates no more than four of the six members may belong to the same party.

And with only two Republicans running in the November election — current Board of Representative members Dennis Mahoney and J.R. McMullen — each is guaranteed a spot on the board, to replace the two outgoing Republicans.

So that leaves one spot available, and the winner will come out of a field of three Democrats: Current board chairperson Richard Freedman, and challengers Robert Barocas and Leo Zygelman.

Freedman, 57, is the president of Garden Homes Management, a family real estate investment business based in Stamford. In an emailed message, he said the Board of Finance has been “an excellent steward” of the city’s finances, particularly during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic when the board decided to not raise taxes.

“I would like to continue my service on the Board of Finance to help ensure continued sound governance under a new mayor,” he wrote.

Barocas, 63, is a senior director with General Electric.

When asked through email why he is running for the board, Barocas wrote that he would be a leader on the Board of Finance and “work seamlessly across and within all agencies both locally in Stamford and at the state-level.”

He said he would “foster new thinking and instill appropriate change to rebuild the fiscal policy needed to modernize critical infrastructures and make marked improvements in the public school system,” where both his children attended.

Zygelman did not respond to requests for comment.

McMullen, 61, retired from IBM after 30 years as a financial analyst. He currently works seasonally for H&R Block.

“I have been concerned with the City’s approach to the budget and spending process since my first experience with the process in 2013,” he wrote, in an emailed statement.

He said he can have more of an impact on the six-member Board of Finance, as opposed to the 40-member Board of Representatives.

“The city should be expected to budget the same way our residents have to,” he wrote. “Establish the budget’s bottom-line up front then build the detail around that budget.”

Mahoney, 58, is retired.

When asked why he is running for the finance board, his response was brief: “To ensure Stamford is a viable and successful place to live and raise a family.”

Mannis, 74, is a retired government relations executive, having worked for the mayor of New York City and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Previously, he also served on the Stamford Board of Education.

“If elected my hope is to continue the work I have done for the last two years,” he wrote, in an emailed message. “We have had success containing taxes during the time I have been on the board and been a cohesive voice for fiscal integrity but also for forward-looking policy in preparing the city’s budget.”

ignacio.laguarda@stamfordadvocate.com



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