Three Fairfield University students elected to town's legislative body

Three Fairfield University students were elected on Nov. 4 to the town of Fairfield's legislative body, the Representative Town Meeting (RTM). Republican Jerald Schlichting, a sophomore from Warwick, N.Y., received 699 votes, Democrat Domenic Paniccia, a senior from Monroe, Conn., received 607 votes, and Michael Franz, a junior from Bradford, Mass., got 604 votes to represent the university in the town's 4th legislative district.

Republican Henry Humphreys, a director in the university's Residence Life Office who lives on campus, also was elected to a seat in the 4th district, garnering 637 votes.

During the campaign, the students cited relations with year-round residents at Fairfield Beach, where several hundred students live during the academic year, as the most important issue concerning students.

"The school needs leadership, especially at the beach," said Michael Franz, a political science major and vice president of the university's College Democrats.

"Dealing with student concerns and the beach will be top priority," said Jerald Schlichting, co-director of major dances and special events for the student association.

"There needs to be more communication between students and year-round residents at the beach," said Dom Paniccia, a marketing major.

Franz, an admirer of the late Robert F. Kennedy, said the obligation of residents of his district to the community does not stop at the Fairfield border. "I think wealthy Fairfield has an obligation to its neighbor, Bridgeport," he said.

Franz is an residence advisor in Gonzaga Hall, a weight room monitor in the Recreation Complex, hosts a current events show on the student radio station, WVOF-88.5 FM, on Tuesdays, and is a member of the Honors Program and the Multicultural Task Force. He thought running for the RTM would be a "fun thing to do and to help the school."

Schlichting, whose uncle was once mayor of Cranford, N.J., said it is not enough to complain about politics if you really want to effect change. "It is so easy to sit back and watch. I hate to sit back and watch others do things," he said.

A sophomore, Schlichting, who received a Fairfield University Achievement Scholarship and Carl and Dorothy Bennett Scholarship to attend the university, plays JV soccer, and has served meals at Prospect House in Bridgeport with faculty, administrators and students of the School of Business. "I have a conscious and am honest to a fault. I want to get involved in things I can have an impact on."

His political philosophy is derived, he said, from his late grandfather, an Irish immigrant who worked tirelessly as a fruit peddler in New Jersey during the Depression and emerged from it well off. Jerry remembers working in his grandfather's nursery as a young boy, and was instilled with the "value of hard work."

Paniccia, who worked as a volunteer on Bill Finch's unsuccessful campaign against Connecticut Congressman Christopher Shays, said students "can rely on him."

He said he would like to have Fairfield First Selectman Ken Flatto visit the campus so students know who is running the town and have an opportunity to express their opinions.

As a high school sophomore in Monroe (Conn.), Paniccia was a delegate for the Connecticut Youth Congress at the State Capitol in Hartford, worked as a volunteer on the campaign Tom Ganim, a Fairfield alumnus who ran unsuccessfully for a State Senate seat.

He currently is a residence advisor in Dolan Hall and holds a job as an assistant to the information specialist for the marketing company, MCA of Westport. He's looking for a job and a place to live in Fairfield so that when he graduates in May he can retain his RTM seat.

The reason he ran for office? "In politics, one person can make a difference and I want to be a voice for people who are not participants in the political process."

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Media Contact: Nancy Habetz, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2647,

Posted on November 1, 1997

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