By Elizabeth F. McNamara
When the five current Town Council members, all Democrats, ran for election two years ago, they forged an alliance and swept into office on Election Day, defeating two incumbents and three newcomers along the way. This week, all five signed up to run again and they appear to have no competition.
Here are the candidates, in alphabetical order:
Caryn Corenthal, 62, Democrat
Corenthal, a teacher, was elected for the first time in 2018. She is married and has two children.
She said she’s running for reelection because she loves the job. “It was gratifying to be part of a team that helped restore normalcy and respect to the taxpayers and municipal workers,” she said. “We worked as a team to hire outstanding people, such as, our town manager and finance director. We managed our finances in a conservative manner, while being respectful of the school’s needs. But now I want us to move forward. We were in the middle of discussing such things as our parking issues and how to improve our waterfront when the pandemic struck. That put a boulder in the road. I want to be part of the team that helps EG navigate our town through this rough period and into the future.”
Michael Donegan, 57, Democrat
Donegan, an environmental lawyer, will be running for a second term on the Town Council. He served on the EG Planning Board, including as chair, before running for Town Council in 2018. He has been vice president of the council during the current term. He is married and has five children who have gone through the EG school system.
He noted he and his fellow council members had “replaced the town manager, rebuilt our Finance Department, debunked the false-bankruptcy narrative, fully funded our schools, aggressively negotiated five taxpayer-friendly union contracts, saved millions of dollars in retirement expenses (OPEB), restored a balanced budget, replenished plundered reserves, put Council meetings online, restored services to our seniors and fully engaged the residents.”
“I am running for reelection because I believe that my experience, skills and commitment to doing the work can help us continue along our current positive path, while navigating this crisis,” he said, referring to the challenges faced by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Renu Englehart, 54, Democrat
Englehart is in her first term on the Town Council. Before running for council in 2018, she served on the EG Zoning Board of Review for several years. Englehart is married and has three sons who graduated from EG schools. She volunteers with wild animal rehabilitation.
“I am running because I feel that there is still work to do as well as to continue the work we’ve already started,” said Englehart. “I think it helps that we all work well together and we are respectful of each other even if we disagree. I have tried to do my best and be as responsive as possible.”
Mark Schwager, 63, Democrat
Schwager, a doctor, is running for a sixth term on the Town Council. He served on the council from 2006 to 2010, stepped off, then won again in 2014 and has served on the council since, including as president this term.
“I’ve been doing public service for a long time and I wanted to continue,” Schwager said about running again. “We have a really good team of counselors; we work well together.”
In the past six months, the picture of what another term would look like has changed a lot, Schwager said. “We were in a really good position to improve town services,” he said, noting the hiring of a new town manager, finance director, fire chief and town solicitor and plans to conduct a study of the waterfront and look at downtown parking problems. “The pandemic came in and changed everything,” he said. “That’s one reason why I’m running again. I’d like to stay and really work on getting the town through this.”
Schwager is married and had three children graduate from EGHS.
Michael Zarrella, 51, Democrat
Zarrella, a lawyer, was first elected in 2018 on his second try for the office. He is married and has three children, 2 EGHS alumni and one middle schooler.
He’s running for reelection to be able to expand on the work the council has already accomplished.
“The first term we needed to fix things. Now I want to build things,” he said. One of those things is a sports complex. Of course, because of the pandemic, he said such plans will have to wait, but he said he was eager to continue the good work he and his fellow councilors had already done. Zarrella said he is particularly proud with the people they have hired, including Town Manager Andrew Nota, Finance Director Trish Sunderland, and Fire Chief Bernie Patenaude.
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Nothing like a 1 party progressive town. Be still my heart! The taxes you will love.