As published in the Record Journal, Thursday July 21, 2011
By Robert Cyr
WALLINGFORD — The Republican Party caucus Wednesday night was filled with poetry and poetic speeches and performances, as the town committee formed its slate of candidates for the Board of Education, Town Council and mayor’s office.
The night started with a procession of players from the Yalesville Fife and Drum Corps and the U.S. Naval Sea Cadet Corps, followed by a formal set of nominations and seconds for candidates.
Wallingford native Jerry Labriola Jr. was recently elected state party chairman. He said local leaders like state Sen. Len Fasano, R-North Haven, helped him on the way to the chairmanship while he was seeking other spots in the party. He then lauded Mayor William W. Dickinson Jr., joking that he had taken office not long after the astronauts of Apollo 11 walked on the moon in 1969.
“We are so lucky to have a leader that just does a consistent good job and is rewarded every two years with re-election,” he said. Support in the auditorium of Dag Hammarskjold Middle School was strong on an oppressively humid July evening, with 65 registered Republicans in the audience and nine guests, said party notable and school board member Chet Miller. Miller was nominated to run for his seat again.
The party nominated Miller, Roxane McKay, Joseph Marrone, Michael Brooder, Tanya Bachand and political newcomer Christine Mansfield for the Board of Education.
As for the nine-member Town Council, it is Republican controlled, with six members including Chairman Robert Parisi. Planning and Zoning Board member Patrick Birney nominated Parisi in his speech, citing Parisi’s quote in a 2009 Record-Journal article as one of his favorite all-time quotes on politics.
In the article, Parisi was asked how his party came to be in the majority after a long stretch of Democratic control on the council.
“Wallingford needed stability and reassurance at time when both were scarce,” Birney quoted.
Jerry Farrell Jr., former commissioner of consumer protection and council vice chairman, announced earlier this year that he would not seek a 17th term on the council. He stepped forward to nominate local business owner John Le Tourneau to a third term.
Farrell said Le-Tourneau was the best man at his wedding seven years ago, and has shown the same altruistic qualities while serving the town.
“He’s the best man for the job because he stands up for the people of Wallingford,” he said.
The party nominated all five incumbents, including Le-Tourneau, Parisi, Rosemary Rascati, Vincent Cervoni and Craig Fishbein. Tom Laffin, a 31-year-old businessman, was chosen to replace Farrell.
Rascati, who admitted to being normally reserved, composed a poem to nominate Dickinson to another term. Dickinson, who has been in office 28 years, is the second longest-serving mayor in the state.
“ ’Twas the middle of April in ’83 / when a fine young man came up to me / said he: I’ve been asked to run for mayor this year / and an honest opinion I’d like to hear,” she read. “He’s guided us through thick and thin / and made sure at all times that we could swim. / So let’s return him to the helm to steer the ship forward once again.”
After the slate endorsements, the 13 candidates made their acceptance speeches. Fishbein, revealing a bit of a theatrical side, also read an original poem aloud.
“With two years in the past / the sail’s always at full mast / attacking the budget with pencil,” he read. “But in these uncertain times / it is best to dispel with rhymes / and to avoid at all costs idle gossip.”
Dickinson, long known for his penchant for dramatic presentations, did not disappoint his party after accepting its nomination. His speech bordered on avant-garde theater, as he spoke rousingly over the snare drums and fifes playing old patriot themes.
“There are drums of assembly because the winds of change are blowing all around us,” he said. “Just look at state level or national level. Our country, our state, must begin to adapt to a new reality. It’s not going to be the way it’s always been. The winds of change are requiring us to reassess what we do and how we do it.”