As published in the Record Journal Thursday July 14, 2011
By Robert Cyr
WALLINGFORD — Two-term Board of Education member Thomas Laffin won the Republican Town Committee’s nomination Wednesday night to run for a seat on the Town Council that will be left open by the departure of longtime councilor and council Vice Chairman Jerry Farrell Jr.
Laffin, a 31-year-old father of two, graduated from Siena College in Loudonville, N.Y., with a degree in political science. He is the North American construction manager for Edible Arrangements.
Laffin, who ran unsuccessfully for office two years ago, said he learned a lot from his campaign and vowed to work harder this time and to raise $5,000.
“I’ll hit more doors, I’ll raise more money and attend more events,” he said. “I don’t like what the Democrats are saying about the mayor and I want to sit at that table and say something.”
Laffin attended his first town committee meeting fresh out of college at age 22, he said, and found himself sitting at a table with the men who would later become the council’s Republicans.
“I knew I wanted to get involved with a group of people that wanted to limit spending, limit government,” he said.
The other hopeful for the nomination, Christine Mansfield, a graduate of Villanova University and a mother of three, owns Discovery Training Services and has been active in volunteer work in the area for many years, she said. Her campaign would have focused on creating a “brand” for her party and her council running mates, using T-shirts, volunteer drives and other activities.
Councilor Craig Fishbein spoke in favor of Mansfield and said she was the better candidate based on her solid relationships in the community through her business and charity work.
“It’s hard to stand up here as a member of the Town Council, but I have to look at who the better candidate is,” he said. “I speak from the heart on this one.”
Mansfield is no stranger to dealing with politicians. She told lawmakers in February that the state suffers from an image problem that is being spread nationwide, and if it doesn’t start operating like a business, it risks losing more people and companies.
“Trying to safeguard this community without mortgaging our children is crucial,” she said. “If I do one thing well, I know how to rally people.”
Board of Education Chairman Thomas Hennessey told Mansfield she would be a perfect fit for a vacancy on his board, and ultimately voted for Laffin for a council run.
“Tom is a very staunch team player and he has innovative ideas,” Hennessey said. “He’s supportive of where the town wants to go in the next decade.”
Farrell, 43, said either candidate could have filled his shoes. The former state commissioner of consumer protection announced earlier this year that he would end his 16 years on the council to spend more time with his family.