Community News

You’re Invited! Join Us at the Bethel DTC Picnic: Sunday, July 24th, 12:00-4:00

Bethel DTC picnic-2022

The Bethel Democratic Town Committee

invite you to our

Annual Picnic

Sunday July 24th, 2022


 Great Picnic Menu ~ Children’s Activities ~ Door Prizes

Join the Fun!   Meet Our Local and State Officials

Join us for a fun outdoor afternoon for all family members while we raise some funds to support our slate of candidates running in this year’s election and beyond.


We have invited all the 2022 candidates for state and federal offices- join us to hear more about their platforms and what they can each do for us in Hartford or Washington.


We will not only have our amazing door prize (raffle) table, but we are offering a chance to pre-purchase the tickets! So, register below, buy your door prize (raffle) tickets or donate to the Town Committee to keep Democrats running in Bethel and beyond!


Please Call or Email If You Have Questions:

Nick Vitti, Chair: 203-297-3356,

Rob Stowell, Treasurer:

Alice Hutchinson, picnic committee:


You’re Invited! Join Us at the Bethel DTC Picnic: Sunday, July 25th

Please join us on July 25th from 12:00-4:00 for our Annual Picnic at Bennett Memorial Park! We will have a fun outdoor afternoon for all family members.

    • Great Picnic Menu
    • Children’s Activities
    • Door Prizes
    • Raffles
    • Meet Our Local and State Officials
    • Join the Fun!   

Would you or your business like to place an ad in the program book?

Here is the link to the AD FORM.

Here is the link to the Certification Form that must accompany the ad form.

See you there!


Love Bethel and Want to Help? We Need You!

Are you interested in volunteering for the benefit of Bethel? Consider running for office this year!

The Bethel Democrats are interested in hearing from and meeting folks who might wish to serve on one of the following boards or commissions:

  • Planning & Zoning
  • Zoning Board of Appeals
  • Inland Wetlands
  • Board of Assessment Appeals


If this sounds like something you’d like to learn more about, please contact Jon Menti at We will gladly be in touch with more about what’s involved, what’s expected of candidates, etc.

If you’re a registered Democrat, we’d love to hear from you!



YOU Have a Say in Bethel’s Future

Every Bethel resident can help shape Bethel’s future by participating in the budget process!


You may not realize it, but Bethel’s budget is shaped through community input and voted on by Bethel residents. This is sometimes referred to as a “Town Meeting” form of government, which is unique to the New England states. Do you want to have a say in the future of our town? Get involved! Here are the three important dates where you can have a say. Participation in all three events is critical:

  • Monday, March 22nd, 7:00pm: Public Hearing on the budget. This is where the public can comment on the budget as initially proposed by the Board of Finance (“BOF”). Due to CoVID restrictions, the Public Hearing will be via Zoom (the Zoom Meeting link and related materials can be found on the Town by clicking here). After the Public Hearing, the BOF will consider comments made by members of the public and will decide what budget should be presented at the Annual Town Meeting.
  • Monday, April 5th: Annual Town Meeting. This is a meeting where those Bethel taxpayers who are present can vote on both whether to reduce the BOF proposed budget (the proposal cannot be increased) and whether to send the BOF proposed budget to Town Referendum. As residents come into the venue, members of the Town Registrars’ team will check identification to confirm eligibility to vote at the Annual Town Meeting. If the majority of Bethel taxpayers present agree, the Budget moves on to a vote in a Town Referendum. If not, it goes back to the BOF to make changes.
  • Tuesday, April 20th: Town Referendum. This is where the town votes on a budget. Residents will vote in their regular polling places. If the budget passes, it goes into effect when the new fiscal year begins (i.e., July 1, 2021). If not, it goes back to the Board of Finance to make changes. For more information on voting districts and polling places in Bethel, visit our “Voter Info” page.


You can view the proposed 2021-2022 budget here.


As you think about how you will vote on the budget, here are some items to consider:

  • You will have the opportunity to vote both on the town budget AND the school budget. Often both budgets pass, but sometimes one passes and the other doesn’t, in which case the BOF will make changes to the budget that failed. That budget will again go through the Annual Town Meeting and Town Referendum process.
  • It’s important to know that parts of the town budget actually go to support our schools. If part of what motivates you to get involved in the budget process is wanting to support our schools, know that both parts of the budget are important for the functioning of our school system. For example, the cost of utilities, insurance and School Resource Officers are all included in the Town Budget.
  • Every vote matters! Turnout matters a lot in town referendums, so taking time to vote will make a big difference.


Finally, Bethel’s Board of Finance Chair, Bob Manfreda, explains why your participation is so important:

“There is a saying that ‘democracy is not easy.’ This is especially so when we have a Town Meeting form of government, where participation in each of the three events that comprise the Town of Bethel’s Budget process (the Public Hearing, the Annual Town Meeting and the Town Referendum) is critical.

I recall an exchange I had during one of my first budget seasons while on the Board of Finance. A resident stopped me in the Town Hall. He was confused, and more than a little upset, that there was not going to be a Turf Field in Bethel. He was adamant. He was at the meeting where the Turf Field was approved and he wanted to know why the BOF was ignoring the wishes of the Public! As it turned out, this individual had attended the Annual Town Meeting, where the Budget, including the Capital Plan with the Turf Field, was approved to go to Town Referendum. He confided that he did not vote during the Town Referendum, where the Capital Plan, including the Turf Field, was voted down.

So, please, participate in all 3 events!”


You’re Invited! 2019 Bethel DTC Dinner – April 6th.

Join us on April 6th at Michael’s at the Grove as we celebrate with a dinner honoring Alice Hutchinson with the Bill & Jane Shannon Community Service Award and Cyndie McGuire with the Clifford J Hurgin Democrat of the Year Award!

Reserve Online Today!

Would you or your business like to place an ad in the program book?

Here is the link to the AD FORM.

Here is the link to the Certification Form that must accompany the ad form.


Bethel Democrats Nominate Strong Slate for November

Rich Straiton (left) and Matt Knickerbocker are excited to lead Bethel for another term.

At a caucus on July 19, Bethel Democrats unanimously nominated First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker and Selectman Richard Straiton for a fifth term. In addition, a highly qualified slate of candidates was chosen for the rest of the ticket for this November’s municipal election.

“Rich and I are delighted to be a part of a dynamic team of candidates who are eager to serve our town,” Knickerbocker said after the caucus. “We have a blend of experienced public servants with terrific track records as well as newcomers who bring fresh ideas to help further strengthen this wonderful community. ”

This election is a chance to build on the progress in Bethel that Matt and Rich have led since their election in 2009. Recent accomplishments include starting construction on a voter-approved plan to replace Bethel’s outdated police station, breaking ground on the area’s first municipal solar farm, launching a much-needed renovation of the town’s aging water works to improve fire safety and water quality, and completion of the revamped Plumtrees-Whittlesey intersection.

The Democratic candidates are as follows. Those currently serving in these positions and seeking reelection are marked with an (I) for “incumbent”:

  • First Selectman: Matthew S. Knickerbocker (I)
  • Selectman: Richard C. Straiton (I)
  • Town Clerk: Lisa Bergh (I)
  • Treasurer: Pat Smithwick
  • Board of Finance: Bob Manfreda (I), Robert J. Palmer, Wendy Smith, and Dalene Masi Foster
  • Board of Finance (Two-Year Vacancy): Claudia Stephan
  • Board of Education: Jen Ackerman (I), Rick Magee, Jenn Larsen, and Lawrence Bocchiere III
  • Board of Assessment Appeals: Gary Passineau (I) and Fern Blair Hart
  • Planning and Zoning: Tom Borysiewicz, Silvano Senzamici, and Robert Stowell
  • Planning and Zoning (Alternate): Penny Kessler
  • Zoning Board of Appeals: Richard E. Lawlor Jr. (I), Rebecca Hussey, and Eileen Freebairn
  • Zoning Board of Appeals (Alternate): Cynthia Behrens McGuire
  • Inland Wetlands: Laura V. Collins
  • Inland Wetlands (Alternate): Lou David (I)
  • Police Commission: Patrick M. Perrefort and Christopher C. McCollam
  • Police Commission (Two-Year Vacancy): Sandi Richards Forman

Bethel Democrats will be campaigning hard for these candidates in coming months. Please contact BDTC chairman Nick Vitti ( if you’d like to join us!



Matt Knickerbocker Unanimously Nominated For Fourth Term

On July 23, 2015, Bethel Democrats unanimously nominated First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker and Selectman Richard Straiton for a fourth term. A well-qualified and enthusiastic slate of candidates for the rest of the ticket was also nominated. We are excited and energized about the November elections. We are especially looking forward to making real changes through additional participation on Planning and Zoning, Inlands Wetlands, and Zoning Board of Appeals, to help preserve the rural character of Bethel, while continuing growth in historic downtown.

The Democratic Candidates are as follows:

  • Treasurer: Whitney Vitti
  • Board of Education: Robin Renner, Jen Larsen, Penny Kessler, Carrie Sirois and Michelle Conderino
  • Board of Assessment Appeals: Diana Carlino, Esq. and Robert F. Pitt Jr., Esq.
  • Board of Finance: Claudia Stephan, Eileen Freebairn and Patricia Smithwick
  • Inland Wetlands Comm’n: Don Goodrich and Pat Perrefort
  • Inland Wetlands Comm’n(Alt): Louis David
  • Planning & Zoning: Sandi Richards Forman, Donald Brown, Kim Lemone and Rich Tibbits
  • Planning & Zoning (Alt): Louis Valenti and James Naddeo
  • Police Commission: Christopher McCollam, Richard Thode and Amy Mannion
  • Zoning Board of Appeals: Justin Hurgin and Victor Holomakoff
  • Zoning Board of Appeals (Alt): Gary Passineau and Greg Menti


If you are interested in volunteering on the campaign, please contact Chairman Nicholas Vitti at


Bethel Awarded $800,000 In Grants For Reynolds Ridge Senior Housing

Bethel has been awarded $800,000 in funds from the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Small Cities Program to renovate and update the Reynolds Ridge Senior Housing Complex.  Renovations are to include the creation of two handicapped accessible units, replacement of interior and exterior doors, replacement of windows, and improving energy efficiencies in 80 units of housing.

Reynolds Ridge was completed in 1979 to provide elderly and disabled housing for the low income elderly (62+) and self-sufficient persons of disability, it is subsidized through HUD’s Section 8 program. Located on a hilltop in the country, with bus service to downtown Bethel and surrounding towns, there are 26 efficiency apartments and 14 one bedroom apartments for qualified low income senior citizens, age 62 and older and self-sufficient persons of disability.

The Reynolds Ridge Complex serves an integral part in this community by ensuring that seniors and disabled persons have a safe place to live.  Thank you to our First Selectman and members of the Bethel Housing authority who helped to secure these much needed funds!

Read more on the Bethel Bulletin: