A campaign event in support for Representative Brenda Kupchick, Republican candidate for First Selectman of the town of Fairfield, will be held at the Seagrape Cafe on Thursday, September 19 at 5:30 p.m.
The event will be hosted by real estate agent Elizabeth Altobelli and landlord Antonio Guillard. Suggested contribution is $50 for attendees but only $20 for students. The motivation behind this event, however, has been a point of concern for students.
A recent Facebook post made by a student living at the beach claimed that Representative Kupchick’s opponent for First Selectman, current incumbent Mike Tetreau, is actively working to end the leasing of beach residences to Fairfield students. The post also named landlord Antonio Guillaro as a supporter of Kupchick and her wish to protect the beach for students; Guillaro did not respond to The Mirror’s request for comment.
Tetreau, who is the Democratic incumbent, denied this claim. “I have worked with student organizations and Fairfield University to build an inclusive community at the beach where everyone can live together,” he told The Mirror. “I want to thank the University and student leadership for working with me on initiatives between students and long-term residents of the Fairfield Beach community. There are certainly challenges, but everyone has the right to live there.”
The Mirror reached out to Kupchick, who was in agreement with Tetreau and said via email, “I wasn’t aware of anyone was posting this or have I made any such statements. The two organizers are hosting a fundraiser for me, similar to any of the fundraisers I’ve hosted for my campaign that are to support my race for first Selectwoman. The current first selectman and I have both be at annual beach residents meetings and support harmony with the residents and students.”
Kupchick also denied the statement about the purpose of the event, saying, “The event is simply just a fundraiser for some supporters. One of them is Janine [Alianiello] who is running for the local representative town meeting on my ticket and the other one is a supporter who is hosting part of the fundraiser. So there’s nothing more than that, just a fundraiser.” This contradicts what the general belief seems to be among students. This idea is not confined just to one Facebook post; students are afraid that their rights to live on the beach will be slowly taken away.
State and federal law does not allow discrimination in rental housing based on age in accordance with the Age Discrimination Law of 1975. Leasing on the beach is also a zoning issue, which means that it would be incredibly difficult to “ban” students from living on the beach. However, many students were under the impression that Tetreau was planning to stop students from living on the beach due to a meeting that he held for all beach residents at the Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts on Sept. 5.
As attested to by Erica Christiansen ‘20 via electronic message, the selectman, “came and spoke to us at the Quick Center [and] is working to ban Fairfield students from renting in the future…They held a meeting [on September 5] for students living at the beach that we were required to go to and they had Mike Tetreau come in along with the Police Chief and beach committee members. Mr. Tetreau gave us a speech about how much the town loves us and how we bring so much to Fairfield but he’s actively trying to ban us.”
A number of students have also reported hearing of plans to do away with student leases. Senior Ryan Hopkins stated via electronic message that he had seen the post for Representative Kupchick’s event on Facebook, and suggested that the issue lies with Fairfield residents. “I mean if they have a problem with college kids in a college town they need to seriously ask themselves why they moved here,” he said. He went on to add, “I know one landlord who has a few houses and makes his living renting to students, he’s trying to stop the town from like voting on it or something like that.” Selectman Tetreau’s stance was also commented on by Caitlin Teeking ‘20, saying via electronic message that she had “heard a rumor that the first selectman…does not like students on the beach. Also our landlord [Jay Liptak] said that students will probably not be on the beach in 5-10 years because Fairfield (both the university and town) just doesn’t like it.”
While Tetreau did not discuss his speaking engagement at the Quick Center, he maintains that he values the connection between Fairfield Beach residents and the students leasing homes alongside them. “Promoting communication is very important,” he stated. “This includes communication between long-term residents and students, including landlords.”