Wilton finance board names Democrat to fill vacancy, shifting political majority

Sandra Arkell, the principal accounting officer for the Mastercard Corporation, was appointed to fill a vacancy on the Wilton Board of Finance on Sept. 16. Sandra Arkell, the principal accounting officer for the Mastercard Corporation, was appointed to fill a vacancy on the Wilton Board of Finance on Sept. 16. […]

WILTON — A woman with a depth of experience in finance and accounting has been appointed to fill a vacancy on the Board of Finance.

Out of 13 applicants, the board unanimously voted for Sandra Arkell to fill the seat, at a special meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 16.

“I voted for her based on her strong credentials and professional experience. She has the skill set and senior executive judgment we need on the Board of Finance,” chair Jeff Rutishauser said after the meeting.

Arkell, a Democrat, will fill the spot on the six-member board that opened up when Republican Peter Balderston resigned on Aug. 18, to move out of state. The move shifts the Republican majority on the board to Democratic.

The board had 30 days to fill the vacancy or by Town Charter, it would fall to the Board of Selectmen to make the decision. So, finance members acted quickly to meet the deadline and put out a call to all interested Republicans, Democrats, or unaffiliated voters to apply.

The board received 13 letters of interest and held executive session interviews with the applicants. In addition to Arkell, residents who applied were Perry H. Beaumont, Frank Bria, Tamara Conway, Jed Englund, Robert Gibney, Daniel Hickey, Jung Soo Kim, John Macken, Bruce Martin, John Ragazzini, Richard Alan Rosenthal, and Simon Wong.

Beaumont and Wong withdrew their applications during the process, Rutishauser said.

Arkell’s financial experience was detailed in a résumé she sent to the board.

She is the principal accounting officer for the Mastercard Corporation where she oversees accounting and finances. Her responsibilities include budgeting, forecasting, financial analysis, pension plan accounting and employee benefit finances.

Before Mastercard, Arkell served as chief accounting officer for the Dover Corporation, a global portfolio company, where she supported more than 40 acquisitions valued at nearly $4 billion.

Her other business experience spans across Fortune 500 consumer goods and manufacturing companies, including Sears, Kmart, Wendy’s, Arby’s, Delphi Automotive and Pulte Homes.

A native of Pennsylvania, Arkell holds a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Pennsylvania State University, where she currently serves on its accounting advisory board for the Smeal College of Business. She began her career with PricewaterhouseCoopers as a certified public accountant.

“I welcome this potential opportunity to serve my community, and sincerely appreciate your consideration,” she wrote in a letter of interest to the board when she applied for the seat.

Following Arkell’s appointment, Rutishauser said the board was “surprised and humbled” by the quantity and quality of candidates who submitted their résumés and qualifications for the position.

“It was a very talented pool of candidates,” he said. “I encourage those who did not get selected to please run for the Board of Finance. There will be four seats coming up in future municipal elections.”

Arkell’s appointment now gives the Democrats a majority on the six-member finance board. She joins Democrats Michael Kaelin and Kevin Gardner, for three Democratic spots.

Two members, Rutishauser and Stewart Koenigsberg, are Republicans. One member, Chris Stroup, is unaffiliated.

“We really try to be as non-partisan as we can be, so party affiliation was downplayed in the interview and selection process,” Rutishauser said. “We are trying to get the best talent and capability to the Board of Finance regardless of party affiliation.”

The finance board exercises oversight of the town’s finances and recommends a budget and mill rate to the Annual Town Meeting. The board also has the power to designate an external auditor, approve town and school supplemental appropriations, and review bonding proposals.

Arkell will serve until the next town-wide election in November 2021.

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