Political mailer stirs anger

Philips, Manus, Raguskus targeted in item mailed to voters

The gloves are apparently off just days before Stratford voters head to the polls as a campaign mailer criticizing three Stratford Democrats, including Councilwoman Stephanie Philips, was sent to Stratford homes on Thursday.

The targets of the mailer, all vocal opponents of the town’s plan to sell the town’s Water Pollution Control Authority to the Greater New Haven Water Pollution Control Authority, said Friday that they were disappointed in those who approved it being sent out.

The mailer refers to Raguskus as “leading the charge against regionalizing” the sewer plant and references that he had not paid taxes in seven years.

“Maybe if he paid his taxes and sewer fees, we would all pay less,” the mailer reads.

Philips is described as being married to a town employee who “voted on [her] spouse’s budget, including salary” and that she enjoys  “union benefits employee benefits at expense of taxpayers.”

Manus, a Town Council candidate, is quoted on the flyer as saying Stratford politics is “stunted because people lack education and foresight” and that she is “quietly waiting for everyone to move away and/or die.”

Philips, a candidate for the Zoning Commission, said in an email Friday that she is “so disappointed” in the flyer sent by a political action committee supporting the plant’s sale to the GNHWPCA. Residents will vote in a referendum next Tuesday to decide if the sale should go through.

“Many of those who received this mailer are my colleagues, friends, and fellow volunteers from across the political spectrum. This was a donor-funded mailer whose only purpose was to make malicious personal attacks, and it did not even try to address the issues,” Philips said. “Such tactics are divisive and only create a negative reputation for Stratford.”

Philips also said that several Republicans who support the Yes campaign, including Mayor John Harkins, council members Jason Santi, Ken Poisson, and Paul Hoydick, know the accusations made against her are false as she has never voted on her spouse’s union contract or salary.

Philips said neither Manus or Raguskus deserved to be attacked, especially Raguskus since he is not a candidate. “To target an ordinary citizen for working on a cause he believes in is appalling,” she said.

In an email to the Star on Friday, Raguskus called the mailer “a dirty, desperate piece of politics by people who don’t deserve to get a single vote on Tuesday,” adding that “This mailer says a lot more about them than it does about Stephanie, Tina and myself.”

Raguskus said he did not know what his financial difficulties had to do with the potential WPCA sale and it is “wrong to be amused by my difficulties and to use them for political purposes.” Raguskus said that his situation with the town should be resolved very soon.

Manus said in an interview Friday that she was told about the flyer on Thursday from friend and that they were “disgusted” by it. Manus said she is not that hurt by it, though she feels badly for Philips and Raguskus.

She also said her being the subject of a political attack signals she and others are making a difference in Stratford and “that I had a lot more to do with the WPCA movement than I figured.”

“I knew I’d make a difference, but I didn’t know how important it would be to attack me,” Manus said. “Someone feels that’s the most important thing.”

Tom Malloy, treasurer of the Vote Yes Pay Less political action committee, could not be reached for comment on Friday.

Republican Town Committee Chairman Louis DeCilio said Friday that the town’s RTC has not taken a position on the WPCA sale and was not responsible for the mailer. But DeCilio, a supporter of the plant sale, says everything in it is true  and those taking umbrage are only upset because the information is being publicized.

“If I said and did those things and it became public, I’d be upset, too,” he said.

DeCilio added that people who oppose the sale of the plant have attacked sale supporters  online through social media and in comment sections and would mail out similar attacks if they had the money to do so.  He also referenced someone criticizing Harkins during his appearance on a radio show earlier this week.

“They don’t hesitate to pull the trigger when it comes to [posting] something online,” he said. “Anytime someone has an opposing view, they attack.”

DeCilio also denounced Philips’ claim of not voting on matters affecting her spouse and said Raguskus is a public official as an elected member of the Stratford Democratic Town Committee.

About author
Editor for the Stratford Star. Former reporter for the Darien Times.

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