Meet our 2017 Candidates


[toggle title=”Payton Turpin – Candidate for First Selectman” state=”opened”]

Payton is a retired medical doctor who began his career as an emergency physician and has been on staff at St Vincent’s in Bridgeport and Charlotte-Hungerford Hospital in Torrington. For the past six years he worked for ProHealth Physicians as their Clinical Director for Walk-In Center operations across Connecticut. He has supervised and written policies for hundreds of physicians, nurse practitioners, and medical assistants. Payton attended Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, Georgia.

Early in life Payton learned the happiness that can come from helping others. When he was 10, the family moved to Hong Kong to form what would become Project Concern International. The goal was to provide health care in areas where there were no medical services. Payton’s father, James W. Turpin MD, PCI’s founder, is a renowned humanitarian. PCI now provides maternal/childcare, food/water security, and AIDS care around the world with 19 million served last year.

Payton is a member of the Litchfield County Opiate Task Force. He also serves on the Board of The Workman, an affordable congregate living facility for the elderly in Torrington. Payton is a member of Trinity Episcopal Church, sings tenor in their choir, and is a registered Lay Eucharistic Visitor. He enjoys playing Tournament Bridge, is a frequent performer in community theater productions, and is now rehearsing “And Then There Were None” at the Warner. Payton enjoys playing folk music on guitar and also plays in a Johnny Cash tribute band.

Harwinton is a beautiful, historic town, and Payton wants to keep the character of the town intact. He believes that the board of selectmen system was designed to make local government inclusive, transparent, and collaborative.

Payton’s life experiences will allow him to bring a fresh perspective to the job. He has the ability to understand and grasp complex issues quickly. Payton is confident he can meet challenges such as the state budget crisis and the opioid epidemic with firm leadership and new ideas.


[toggle title=”J. Richard ‘Rick’ Fowler – Candidate for Selectman”]

J. Richard Fowler (Rick) is an ordained UCC Minister and Hospital Chaplain, having retired in 2014. He earned a BGS from UConn in Government Studies and Communication (Political Science and English), and a Master’s Degree in Divinity from Andover-Newton Theological School in 1990.
Rick has three adult children. His wife, Holly Hassett, who was active in the Harwinton Library and Hearthside Quilters, predeceased him in 2013.

A resident of Harwinton since 1998, his daughter Emma is a 2008 graduate of Lewis S. Mills, Jacksonville University, and is presently a fisheries monitor in New Bedford, MA.

Rick’s hobbies include world and ethnic music, humor, short stories, all politics, and keeping well-informed about world events.

He has been a lifelong Democrat, supporting progressive causes such as women’s health, education, voting rights, and equal rights.

Rick seeks to add a discerning ear and transparency to the business of town leadership, especially in the areas of ethics and full-disclosure public proceedings. He seeks to work collaboratively with divergent viewpoints.

[toggle title=”Paul Honig – Board of Education”]

Paul has lived in Harwinton since 2012 with his wife, Diane and their two sons. Jake, a 2017 graduate of Lewis S. Mills, is a freshman at George Washington University, and Harry is presently a sophomore at Mills.

Paul graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 1985 after earning a Bachelor of Science in Finance from the Wharton School of Business and a Bachelor of Applied Science in Computer Science from the School of Engineering and Applied Science. He worked for 22 years in the financial services industry writing analytical software and working on a fixed income trading desk. He is currently retired.

Paul has always had an interest in education. After leaving the financial services industry, he earned an Alternative Route Certificate to teach middle and high school math in Connecticut. Paul taught middle school math at the Cornwall Consolidated School and subsequently spent 4 years as a volunteer math tutor at the Gilbert School in Winsted where he is currently coaching Boys Varsity Tennis.

As a board member, Paul will pay careful attention to issues presented to the Board. He is willing and able to spend the time it takes to thoroughly research these issues in order to build consensus and make informed decisions. His experience in finance and education are ideally suited to contribute to meeting the goal of providing a high quality education to the children of Region 10 in a fiscally responsible way.

[toggle title=”Wendy Darasz – Board of Education”]

Wendy has lived in Harwinton for 18 years.  She and her husband, Paul Darasz, raised one son who is a 2011 graduate of Lewis Mills.
Their son, Jack, is a graduate of the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS).  Jack also earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Sustainable Agriculture from Green Mountain College.

Wendy has worked in the field of education for over 30 years. Currently, she is a Reading Specialist in Simsbury, CT working to improve the reading skills of fragile readers in grades K-6.  Wendy has also served as treasurer, co-president, and building representative within the local teachers’ union.  She has served on several hiring committees as well as many curriculum committees and was instrumental in writing the K-1 Word Study Curriculum for the Simsbury School District.

Wendy earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology, Summa cum Laude, from the University of Hartford.  She furthered her studies at the University of Hartford, earning her Master’s in Education.  Most recently, Wendy earned an advanced certification as a Reading Specialist from Albertus Magnus in New Haven, CT.

A statement from Wendy:
As a parent and a teacher, I am passionate about education and believe that public education is the key to a strong community and a vital democracy.  We have a duty to provide the best educational experience possible for the children of Harwinton, while remaining fiscally responsible.
My extensive background in education and as a Region 10 parent allows me the opportunity to view the educational system from several perspectives.
It is essential that we work across the aisles, Republican-Democrat and parent-teacher, to achieve the educational goals of the community.  Harwinton has treated my family well, and I look forward to giving back to the citizens of our town.


[toggle title=”Peter Thierry – Board of Finance”]

Peter is a life long resident of Harwinton. His many years of service to the town include: 28 years on the Board of Finance with 20 years as Chairman, 4 years on the Planning Committee, 4 years on the Water Pollution Control Authority, 8 years on the Board of Selectmen.

Peter also served on the original Town Hall/Library Building project, the Town Pension study, the Town Garage building, the Ambulance building, Recreation Fields’ building, and the Computer Study Committees.

He has been employed for the last 45 years as the Shop Foreman at Crowley Chrysler in Bristol. Peter has been married for 38 years to his wife, Maureen and has 3 children. He is a graduate of the Region #10 School system.

Peter is a past recipient of the Harwinton Outstanding Citizen Award, and is committed to working to keep our taxes low, while providing needed services to Harwinton residents. He continues to work for the long-term fiscal health of the Town.

[toggle title=”Celeste Echlin – Board of Finance”]

Celeste brings a variety of financial experience and leadership skills to her candidacy for the Harwinton Board of Finance.
She enjoyed a long 35-year career in financial services as a commercial lender and investment banker in national, regional and community banks, including 16 years with Connecticut National Bank and FleetBoston Financial, 5 years with First National Bank of Litchfield and 4 years with Savings Bank of Danbury.
Celeste retired in 2011 and became a full-time volunteer serving on boards and as president of the Railroad Museum of New England in Thomaston and as treasurer of the Northwest Conservation District in Torrington. She also served on the board of the Northwest CT Economic Development Corporation and has been a member of the Northwest CT Chamber of Commerce, Director of RMA-New England Chapter, RMA-Women In Banking, Waterbury Foundation’s Non-Profit Assistance Initiative and volunteers with other area non-profits including currently with Democracy Awakens CT.
Celeste has been a resident and homeowner with her husband Sam Walker in Harwinton since 1994. She holds an MBA in Finance from Thunderbird School of Global Management, and a BA in History from the University of Texas.
My career as a trusted financial advisor to businesses large and small and my financial analysis skills required expertise in reviewing information from several viewpoints in order to make the best decisions for a positive outcome.  This is the same experience I will bring to the Harwinton Board of Finance.
[toggle title=”Anne Marie Buonocore – Zoning Commission”]

Anne Marie Buonocore, PhD., RN, believes that whenever possible she needs to provide service to her community. Some of her past service is as a Zoning Commissioner for 3- terms, following previously being appointed as an alternate Zoning Commissioner.

She sought out and completed courses in the legal responsibility and role of Zoning Commissioners. She was voted Secretary for the Commission during her tenure, and led several meetings as the senior member of the Commission.

She is quoted as saying, “Most of us including me want to keep Harwinton – Harwinton – but that is easier said than done.”

During her last term she had to rally support from Harwinton residents to halt new regulations from being passed that were not in alignment with the Harwinton Planning Commission. The proposed regulations would have dramatically changed the face of, and quality of life in Harwinton. Buonocore strongly believes in working collaboratively with the Planning Commission.

[toggle title=”Cynthia Kasey – Zoning Commission”]

Cynthia Kasey is originally from the Whigville section of Burlington (5th generation). She moved to Harwinton five years ago with her husband and young daughter.

“I wanted my daughter to grow up as I did, in the country and able to look up at the stars at night. Although I am very proud of my family heritage in Burlington, the town has changed so much over the years that the agricultural and country feel has gotten lost, whereas Harwinton has managed to keep its agricultural integrity in tact, which is extremely comforting.”

She attended CCSU majoring in Psychology as well as Tunxis Community College for her undergraduate degree in Visual Fine Arts. Being an artist, she opened Local Lore Gallery and Studio here in Harwinton in 2015.

She joined the Zoning Commission in 2016 in hopes of helping to preserve and protect Harwinton’s Agricultural heritage for future generations.


[toggle title=”Nancy Shanley Schnyer – Zoning Commission Alternate”]

Nancy Shanley Schnyer has been a lifelong resident of Harwinton. She is currently completing her 4th year on the Board of Selectmen. She had also served for over twenty years on the Zoning Board of Appeals. She is active in many local organizations and has always been dedicated to the wellbeing of all aspects of life in Harwinton. She is a retired Director of Pupil Services.

[toggle title=”Sandy Sulek – Board of Assessment Appeals”]

Sandy has been a lifelong resident of Harwinton for 45 years where she resides with her husband Kevin. She is a mother of 2 children, Matthew and Kaitlin.
Sandy has been in the medical field for over 25 years.
She has been recently elected as a Justice of the Peace for the town of Harwinton, and is also a dedicated Eucharistic Minister at our Lady of Hope Parish in Harwinton.
Sandy has only the Town of Harwinton best interest at heart.
[toggle title=”Franci Knight – Board of Assessment Appeals”]

Franci started A Healing Trail Wellness Center in 1997 and moved the business, and her home, to Harwinton in 2003. The office has since grown to a staff of 23 Therapists with over 15,000 clients.

Her background includes a BS degree, CT Licensed Medical Massage Therapist, Certified Medical Support Hypnotherapist, Safety Director for large contractors, work as an OSHA safety trainer, Construction Risk Management for a large insurer, worker’s compensation injury management, on-site worker’s safety, construction rescue boat operator and EMS, along with years of working in a hospital setting.

Franci publishes the Harwinton e-newsletter every 2 weeks and is the editor of the Harwinton Gazette Facebook page for local news.

She spent her teens living and working on a dairy farm and has a strong connection to agricultural issues.

She is currently a member of the Harwinton Lions Club, the CT Farm Bureau, the Lake Harwinton Association and several professional associations. Franci lives in Harwinton with her two dogs – Venus and Cooper.

[toggle title=”Leslie Kelly – Zoning Board of Appeals”]

Leslie, a dedicated educator of 22 years is committed to preserving our small town appeal.

[toggle title=”Peter J. Y. Brazaitis – Zoning Board of Appeals”]

Peter J. Y. Brazaitis IV has been a resident of Harwinton since 1998 and is a current member of the Zoning Board of Appeals. He graduated from Drexel University with a Bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering, holds a Master of Science in Engineering and Operations Management degree from the University of New Haven and is a licensed Professional Engineer.

Peter has been a Justice of the Peace in Harwinton twice since 2009, and is currently the Vice Chair of the Harwinton Historic District Commission. He has extensive experience working with residents, developers and businesses on solving various types of zoning concerns, while also ensuring that all local, state and federal requirements are met.

If elected, Peter will work to preserve Harwinton’s beauty and rural character, while finding a balance with the town’s future needs.

[toggle title=”Debra Freidus – Planning Commission”]

Debra Freidus, DVM, is a graduate of Mount Holyoke College and Purdue Veterinary School and has lived in Connecticut and practiced Veterinary Medicine since 1984. She is a member of the Connecticut Veterinary Medical Association and the American Veterinary Medical Association.

Dr. Freidus moved to Harwinton ten years ago. She is running for the Planning Board to contribute to the civic life in her community. Currently, she is serving on the Planning Commission as an alternate. She is interested in land use as it relates to the character of Harwinton, conservation and the town plan for development. She wants to participate in deciding whether an application is in compliance with regulations.

Dr. Freidus has served on the Board and as an Officer for the following organizations: American Pointer Club, Pointer Club of Central New Jersey, and Pointer Assoc. of New England. She has been a member of the American Pointer Club National Field Trial Standing Committee for twelve years and has served as event Secretary for six years. She has served as a delegate to the Dr. John Flaherty Field Trial Clubs Assn. for fourteen years. She has volunteered for many micro chipping and rabies clinics for pets to support various animal rescue efforts and has raised money for the Alzheimer’s Association.

Dr. Freidus maintains an active interest in her hobbies, which include her dogs, antiques, and collectibles.

[toggle title=”Roland Perreault – Planning Commission”]

As a longtime resident in Harwinton, Roland is an active member of the Planning Commission and a strong and powerful advocate for the residents of Harwinton. When away from town, he works in hospital administration at Yale-New Haven Hospital.

[toggle title=”Nancy Eldridge – Town Clerk”]

Nancy is cross endorsed by both parties and has been Harwinton Town Clerk since March 2012.

[toggle title=”Town Treasurer – Robin Ruwet Turpin”]

Robin Ruwet Turpin has over thirty years of diverse financial experience. She has worked as a financial analyst, cost accountant, systems analyst and project manager for the integration of complex financial and manufacturing systems.

Robin is a UCONN Honors Graduate and earned her M.B.A. from Santa Clara University while working full-time for Hewlett-Packard in California.

She has been the treasurer at Trinity Episcopal Church in Torrington for three years and previously, the assistant treasurer for one year. She has served on the Church Vestry for four years.

Robin has been a Front Desk Reception Volunteer for 6 ½ years at Charlotte Hungerford Hospital. Prior to living in Harwinton, she was very active with Torrington Schools and their sports’ groups. Robin has been the Harwinton Democratic Town Committee Treasurer for four years.

She is the proud mother of three grown children and grandmother to one.



Harwinton Zoning Committee looking at potential changes to zoning

Please Attend Zoning Meeting, Tuesday, Oct. 10, 7 PM Town Hall

Your Property Values Will Be Affected by Proposed Changes.
110 People Attended Last Week’s Zoning Commission Open Hearing on Proposed Zoning Regulation Changes.

Many Testified to Concerns With:
Vague regulations
Negative effect on residential property values
Lack of current enforcement that will only get worse
Changes will allow any business at any home with parking lots, outbuildings, tarp-covered storage, employees, big trucks. Zoning can close the Open Hearing and vote these changes in. Please testify and be heard.


Harwinton Residents: We live in Harwinton because it’s a quiet family town.

The Zoning Commission plans to allow businesses in any home.

These changes will allow:

  •  Parking lots on residential property
  •  Full-time employees in the home
  •  “Service areas” on the property
  •  19,499 pound trucks (maximum weight of a medium-sized truck)
    Zoning Commission Public Hearing, Monday, Sept. 25 at 7 PM, Town Hall

Tell the Zoning Commission where you stand.

Please attend the Zoning Commission Public Hearing
Monday, Sept. 25, 7 PM, Town Hall
Let Your Voices Be Heard!

Read the proposed changes: (Home Occupation changes are on pages 6&7)


Download the proposed changes document: Zoning Changes (Home Occupation changes are on pages 6&7)