WILTON — The Connecticut Council of Small Towns has recognized state Rep. Gail Lavielle (R-143) for her work last year in helping to fend off efforts to regionalize school districts around the state as well as other work she did in advocating for public policies that benefit Connecticut’s small towns.

Bethel First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker, the council’s secretary, presented its Town Crier Award Wednesday morning, Feb. 19, during the group’s 2020 Connecticut Town Meeting at the Aqua Turf Club in Plantsville. Lavielle also participated in a legislative issues forum there.

“Rep. Lavielle was chosen as a recipient due to her outstanding leadership on legislation affecting Connecticut's small towns — in particular, her efforts to defeat legislation that would have forced the consolidation of small school districts throughout Connecticut,” said Elizabeth Gara, the council’s executive director. “In addition, the award recognizes her efforts to support fair-share funding for small towns, enact meaningful mandate relief, and address the need for a statewide fracking ban.”

“I am very grateful for this recognition and I thank the Connecticut Council of Small Towns for all it does on behalf of our local governments,” Lavielle said. “Its stewardship and continued support help municipalities maintain a strong voice on issues directly affecting their residents. It’s important that we continue to protect their autonomy because, as we saw last year in the debate on mandated school regionalization, people in Connecticut hold very dear their ability to make local decisions about matters like education, zoning, and how their property taxes are spent. Congratulations to my fellow COST award recipients and thanks for everything they do for Connecticut’s towns."

Lavielle, who is ranking member of the legislature’s Appropriations Committee, played a leadership role in the successful opposition against proposed legislation during the 2019 session that would have opened the door to mandated consolidation and redistricting of school districts across Connecticut. She has also worked to reduce unfunded mandates on Connecticut municipalities, and has been widely recognized as a strong advocate for environmental protection.

The other award recipients included state Reps. Cristin McCarthy Vahey and Tami Zawistowski and state Sens. Paul Formica and Christine Cohen.