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Friday, November 4, 2011

Record Journal - Area races: 2011

As published in the Record Journal, Thursday November 3, 2011

Local mayoral races in Wallingford and Meriden are high profile and will be discussed in an editorial devoted to this subject and these candidates.
Meanwhile, though, local voters have to cope and sift through a welter of candidates for other offices, notably town and city councils and school boards. Many of these races do not pit individual candidates against each other but invite voters to choose 6 of 9, or 4 of 5, or some similar arrangement. We try, today, therefore, to select some candidates who appear vote-worthy or who might add particular skills to the body to which they seek election.

Cheshire — Democrats on this Town Council are presently there by virtue of minority representation rules, since Republicans won impressively two years ago; hence, 7 of the 8 GOP council candidates are incumbents. Two major issues have arisen and will go forward: that artificial turf field for Cheshire High School and a replacement bubble for the Community Pool. On both issues, there was some division, but as much among Republicans as between them and Democrats. Board of Education contests this year are low key, and voters may choose any 4 of 5 candidates.

The most interesting outcome will be on a ballot question approving a $30 million bond authorization for a water treatment plant upgrade. This is a non-optional project, ultimately, but questions have been raised by Democrats about what level of state contribution can be expected, and lack of answers here could affect the outcome.

Southington — On the council, 8 of 9 members are seeking reelection, among them John Barry (who has not been afraid to speak out on difficult issues), Christopher Palmieri (who has successfully combined two leadership jobs in town) and Edward Pocock III (who has emerged as a strong leader). Among those who would be valuable assets on the council are Cheryl Lounsbury, a well-known and veteran player in Southington public life, and John Moise, who has worked hard for a number of years on town fiscal integrity.

Similarly, 7 of 9 incumbents are seeking new terms on the Board of Education, among them David Derynoski and Pat Johnson (who both have impressive veteran status on the board with an invaluable leadership and institutional memory), and Jill Notar-Francesco, Brian Goralski and Terri Carmody who has demonstrated solid guidance during this term. More important than individual members, who have generally proceeded with unity, will be voter choice on an $85 million bond authorization (less state contributions) for improvements to both middle schools. This work, virtually everyone in town agrees, is long overdue, so the question will be whether the commitment is too fiscally frightening to pass. We hope not, as it needs to be done.

Wallingford — Wallingford’s council election of nine members allows voters to choose any nine of the 12 running. Of nine incumbents, eight are seeking reelection: six Republicans and two Democrats, and they’ve been a reliable crowd. With Bob Parisi and Rosemary Rascati there is strong continuity, and with Craig Fishbein and Nick Economopoulos there is generally strong controversy, as both men are willing to stand up and be counted for their principles. Among those challenging incumbents this year are Don Harwood, a veteran public servant who did yeoman work as chairman of the School Building Committee during the extensive remodeling district-wide a few years ago, and Jason Zandri, whose enduring commitment to the community has led him to establish the “save the fireworks” fund with Fishbein, and to offer his commentary on these editorial pages for several years until his decision to run for council.

Wallingford’s Board of Education needs few words. The last two years have seen a strongly supportive group behind several major changes in the school system made by Superintendent Salvatore Menzo. Any of these changes could easily have proved damagingly controversial and divisive; that none did is due to Menzo’s abilities, of course, but also to the steadiness of board members. It’s significant that none of those challenging currently attack these changes, and so, in choosing which 9 of the 12 candidates to choose, we’d go strongly with incumbents.

Meriden — City Council elections offer a variety of candidates this year with three-way contests in three of the four council areas.
Highlights would be in Area 1, where Steve Iovanna has a lot to offer to Meriden. He is fully supportive of the new high school project, which needs to be supported strongly, and he is committed to improving downtown. Iovanna and Al Pronovost are vying for the seat being left by George McGoldrick. In Area 2, Matthew Dominello, a nineterm veteran on the council, is a man who knows how Meriden works and easily merits another four years in preference to his opposition, Josh Broekstra and Darnell Moss. In Area 3, incumbent Brian Daniels has done excellent work during his four-year term, especially in controlling the budget and committing to actions which improve Meriden’s financial position. In Area 4, Catharine Battista has excellent credentials to serve on the council which should make her a choice over her rivals Liz Whitney and Larry Kibner.

There are four candidates for the two at-large seats, foremost among them Kevin Scarpati, whose candidacy we are happy to support. He has youth going for him, of course, but he has done well in his two years on the Board of Education and his ideas will enliven the city council. The other three candidates are incumbents John Thorp and Walter Shamock and electoral newcomer David Lowell Meriden’s school board will elect four of five candidates, three of five incumbents: from the quality of them, the city cannot lose.

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