Here’s a look at the five candidates running for Ridgefield’s Board of Police Commissioners

RIDGEFIELD — The race for a seat on the Board of Police Commissioners features an incumbent, two appointees and two residents who are new to the board but familiar with public service.

Current Chairwoman Marcie Coffin is seeking re-election alongside appointees John Frey, a Republican, and Ralph Money, a Democrat.

Rounding out the Republicans’ slate is former Planning and Zoning Commissioner Patrick Walsh. Sharon Dornfeld, a parking violations appeals hearing officer and juvenile review board member, joins Money on the Democrats’ slate.

Hearst Connecticut Media had a chance to speak with each candidate regarding their stance on the most pressing issues facing Ridgefield voters.

Note: Some responses have been shortened for space.

Question: What is the top issue you plan to address if elected?

Coffin: Ridgefield’s police and fire departments are in need of new headquarters. After careful planning and review, I would like to assist the town in the construction of a new public safety building. Planning considerations should include location, size, cost and ensure the facility will support the needs of the officers and the town for many years to come.

Money: One critical area of public safety where the town has under-invested is in our facilities. As they stand now, our fire and police headquarters are outdated, costly to maintain and no longer serve the needs of our town. Ridgefield needs to take a strategic and practical approach for addressing these shortfalls, (and) a combined public safety facility needs to advance. There are operational synergies and economic advantages of a combined police/dire/911 headquarters.

Frey: The facilities of both the Police and Fire Departments are 100-plus years old. A modern facility is long overdue. (Also), fully integrate body and vehicle cameras’ usage and continue addressing traffic situations.

Dornfeld: Keeping Ridgefield one of the safest towns in the country with a police department strongly grounded in service, integrity, fairness, caring, justice and accountability.

Walsh: The commission will oversee the design and construction of the new (public safety) facility, (which will) allow the police department to continue to best serve our community. The department is also now issuing body cameras ... and dashboard cameras (for which) the commission will play a very important role in (implementing). Traffic is such a critical issue. If elected, these issues will be my priority.

Question: What is your stance on allowing marijuana retailers to operate in town?

Coffin: Given the infancy of the market in Connecticut, there is not currently enough information available regarding its impact on communities. An evaluation of such data should be considered before (deciding) on whether or not to allow retailers in town.

Money: This is not (within) the purview of the Board of Police Commissioners.

Frey: The town was wise to implement a moratorium while the state determines the regulations. In the meanwhile, possession is legal. Should the town choose to permit a retail establishment, consideration must be given to location due to the traffic that these outlets generate.

Dornfeld: This issue is not within the purview of the Police Commission.

Walsh: … As a private citizen I do not support the sale marijuana in Ridgefield. As a practicing attorney, I see firsthand the profound effects marijuana has on individuals and families. Simply because the state has decriminalized the retail sale of marijuana doesn't mean Ridgefield should permit the sale of marijuana.

Question: What projects or initiatives would you like to see fulfilled using the town's American Rescue Plan monies?

Coffin: Ridgefield should engage members from many different viewpoints in town, Including for-profits, nonprofits and government agencies to discuss appropriate usage of funds. The members should work together in devising a plan to use the monies in a manner that will benefit the townspeople of Ridgefield. Supporting grassroots efforts of for-profits and nonprofits will ultimately benefit the town.

Money: Our town can benefit from ARPA funding to support frontline and essential workers particularly as it relates to training, equipment and facilities. Of particular importance would be additional training for our first responders in the areas of both physical and mental healthcare. In addition, funding should be requested to support the economic stabilization needs of our local businesses, (as) they are an important part of the fabric of Ridgefield.

Frey: The town should seek broad input via the taxpayers since this is a one-time opportunity. Ideally, projects that have a lasting impact. One public safety item may be a pedestrian crossing signal at Adam Broderick on Route 35.

Dornfeld: I would support using a portion of it for the new public safety facility.

Walsh: As an elected police commissioner, I believe the best use of Ridgefield's American Rescue Plan monies includes money spent on our deteriorating roads, upgrading traffic control devices, COVID testing and vaccinations and mental health initiatives to curb substance abuse.

Election Day is Nov. 2.

alyssa.seidman@hearstmediact.com