Despite falling short in his bid to become a Town Council member last November, Nicholas Kapoor has attended most council meetings and budget workshops ever since. Now that fellow Democrat Michele Mount has decided to step down, the party wants Kapoor to finish her term.
"I think public service is very important," said Kapoor, 21. "Public service and politics go hand-in-hand very well."
The Democratic Town Committee's Nominating Committee unanimously voted to nominate Kapoor, who was the highest vote-getter on the Democrats' slate not to make the council.
If his appointment is approved by the Town Council Monday night, Councilwoman Dee Dee Martin said Kapoor will be the youngest council member since her husband, Fred Martin, who was 26 or 27 when he was elected to the council years ago.
Kapoor had graduated from Sacred Heart University Summa Cum Laude with degrees in math and political science and he is currently pursuing an MBA in Finance there. He is working for his family's company I-Engineering, which provides software for the insurance industry.
While serving an internship at the state Capitol, Kapoor was fascinated with seeing a bill proposed to solve citizens' problems move through the legislative process toward approval — "from the bottom up."
Martin, a Democrat, and Town Council Chairwoman Enid Lipeles, a Republican, both serve on the council's Legislative & Administrative Committee. They interviewed Kapoor at Edith Wheeler Memorial Library on Friday afternoon and voted unanimously to move his name forward to the full council.
The Town Council will meet Monday at 8 p.m. in the Council Chambers of Town Hall.
Martin asked Kapoor if he could still work and go to school part-time and be able to attend Town Council meetings. Kapoor said he could.
Lipeles asked if the family business would pose any conflicts with serving on a town board, and Kapoor said it would not seek to do business with the town.
"I've known Nick since last election," Martin said. "He was probably the hardest working member of our team and he helped other candidates."
Martin said it is the Democratic party's tradition to nominate the next highest vote getter to finish the term of someone who resigns from a board or commission.
"I believe it will be a formality," Lipeles said of Monday night's vote on Kapoor.
Mount Moves On
Michele Mount, who is an attorney, was appointed as a human rights referee for the state Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities (CHRO). Commuting to Hartford, dedicating time to the new position and balancing family life influenced Mount's decision to step down as a Town Council member.
"I'm excited about the position," she said Friday. "It's a good fit and fulfilling as it deals with discrimination and human rights. I enjoy it."
However, Mount said she will miss serving on the council.
"I enjoyed it. There's a lot of satisfaction in knowing you helped," she said. "I think that was pretty evident in the AMEC situation. I think the town, for the most part, was united. It's those types of issues."
Republicans had criticized Mount for publicly questioning a zoning application by AMEC to operate a recycling facility at the former Stevenson Lumber property on Route 111, because it had not yet come before the Planning & Zoning Commission. The company later expressed an interest in trash hauling and has since withdrawn its application.
Democratic Town Committee Chairwoman Patricia Ulatowski said, "I think Michele was a wonderful representative during her service, and I think the little time she had with us made the community a better place. She wasn't afraid to speak up. She made stands on issues and I'm convinced, if not for her, we would have a garbage facility at Stevenson."
Susan Koneff, the Democratic registrar of voters, said of Mount, "I'm sad to see her step down. It's difficult to see her step down because I know how much she loves being on the Town Council and public service. I think she was a big contributor serving on the Town Council. She was courageous in the stands that she took on issues."
Mount did not rule out seeking to serve in town government again sometime in the future. But until then, she said, "I will remain an active and informed citizen. And I think that should be everybody's goal. Just because I won't be in public life, that doesn't mean I won't occasionally voice my opinion. But for now I need to take a break."
Lipeles said of Mount, "She had some good legal opinions. As a lawyer, she thought nothing of sharing them with everybody, which is fine. And I wish her well."
Hitting the Ground Running
"Nick has a lot of energy and is young and enthusiastic," Mount said of Kapoor. "It's really nice to see young people be involved and showing an interest in their town in any party. Our whole system is lacking involvement."
Koneff is a co-chair of the DTC Vacancy Committee.
"I think Nick will be excellent," she said. "He's very familiar with what is happening with the Town Council and can hit the ground running."
Ulatowski said, "Politics is in his blood, whether he starts at age 20 or age 50, he's devoted to community service. That's what he wants to do with his life. He has already shown how much he cares. He will be a wonderful representative."