SOUTHINGTON — Party slates for November’s local elections include many incumbents but also some newcomers and the switch of a long-time Republican Board of Education member to the Democratic ticket.
Republicans hold six of the nine Town Council seats and all six incumbents are running for reelection in November. They are Victoria Triano, chairwoman, Tom Lombardi, vice chairman, Paul Chaplinsky, William Dziedzic, James Morelli and Michael DelSanto.
Steve Kalkowski, Republican town chairman, said the council has done good work in managing budgets, preserving open space and protecting the interests of groups from seniors to students.
“I think they’ve built a really great team. They’ve gelled well together, they’re making great decisions for the town and all citizens,” Kalkowski said.
He cited the use of federal pandemic money in keeping down budget costs for the current fiscal year. Council Republicans directed the Board of Education to use the funds for operating expenses. The move was opposed by Democrats and some education board Republicans who wanted the pandemic funds for the schools on top of a town-funded increase in education spending.
Kalkowski said Republican councilors understood how the money could be spent.
“They took a pretty bold action with the budget and adjusting the Board of Education budget but they did it for the right reasons,” he said.Dems drop incumbent
Democrats hold three of the nine council seats. Due to minority representation laws, no more than six members of the same party can hold a seat.
Chris Palmieri, minority leader, and Val Depaolo are incumbents and will be running for reelection in November. Chris Poulos, an incumbent, was not nominated.
Poulos was nominated from the floor during Tuesday’s Democratic convention but didn’t receive enough votes to get on the ticket.
“None of my votes on the Town Council have ever contradicted the published (Southington Town Democratic Committee) platform. I have served with integrity in an open and transparent manner,” he said.
Poulos said he hasn’t gotten an answer as to why he wasn’t nominated.
Erica Byrne, Democratic town chairwoman, said the committee doesn’t comment on nominating decisions.
“The nominating committee took on the huge task of identifying candidates who will do just that - represent the Democratic Party's values of standing up for all of our residents, not just the well-connected, and pushing back on attempts to divide us. Change is never easy, and although some difficult decisions needed to be made, the DTC membership voted to endorse the candidates who were recommended by the Nominating Committee,” Byrne wrote in a statement.
Poulos said he was considering a petition for a Democratic council primary.
Democrats endorsed four candidates who are looking to take spots on the council for the first time.
Jack Perry will run again for council in November, his second run for the position but his first as a Democrat. He nearly took a council seat as an independent in 2017. Perry also ran unsuccessfully for state Senate as a Democrat against Republican Rob Sampson last year.
Christina Volpe, a Planning and Zoning Commission member, is also on the Democratic council ticket. Two former STEPS members, Kristen Guida, a former STEPS president, and Kelly Leppard, the town’s former youth prevention coordinator, will be running for council. STEPS, or the Southington Town-wide Effort to Promote Success, is the local substance abuse prevention coalition.
"The nominating committee worked hard to put together a team of candidates who will work together effectively on behalf of all Southington residents. Democrats are a big tent party and appreciate healthy, civil debate that is focused on building a better community,” Byrne wrote.BOE chair switches parties
Terri Carmody, the board chairwoman, a 14-year board veteran and Republican, will run again in November but this time as a Democrat.
Republicans declined to nominate her, saying she hadn’t shown good leadership over the past two years. Carmody said she wants to continue her work on the board.
Byrne said Carmody has put the health and safety of the district’s children first.
“We welcome Terri with open arms as we seek to invest in healthy, successful futures for our youth and families,” Byrne wrote.
Carmody said she would have remained in the Republican party if she’d been allowed to run again.
“The Republican party left me. I didn't leave them,” she said.
The district has a new superintendent and many new top leaders as of this summer. Carmody described it as a time of transition for the district which would require experienced board members to navigate.
Kalkowski said Carmody had planned on making the 2019 election her last but wasn’t willing to step down for this upcoming election. While she had experience as a teacher, Kalkowski said that experience was becoming dated and her leadership was lacking since becoming chairwoman two years ago. Other board members have been “stymied and stiffled” by Carmody, he said.
“Terri fell short in her leadership in the last two years,” he said. “(Republican board members) are disappointed in the way she led the board of education… She didn’t create a cohesive team.”
Three Democratic Board of Education incumbents will run in November, Bob Brown, Dave Derynoski and Zaya Oshana Jr.
Lisa Cammuso, a former board member, is also on the slate along with Katie Wade.
Republican board incumbents Joseph Baczewski, Colleen Clark and James Chrzanowski will run again in November. They’re joined by three newcomers, two with business and finance backgrounds that Kalkowski said will serve them well on the board.
Sean Carson works in finance at Yale University and Jasper Williams works in project management. Dawn Anastasio, who recently made the switch from Democrat to Republican, is looking to win her first seat for elected office. She’s the daughter of Derynoski, a board veteran.