Both parties could face mayoral primaries in Wallingford as Dickinson steps aside

WALLINGFORD — With the town’s top seat open for the first time in four decades, both politcal parties could potentially face primaries to determine their candidates for mayor, and voters registered with a party who want to change their party affiliation to vote in a primary have only until Monday to do so.

Longtime incumbent Mayor William Dickinson Jr.’s name won’t be on the ballot after he announced he would not be seeking re-election. So far the Republican and Democratic parties each have at least two candidates who have filed the paperwork to run for mayor. The town committees will hold caucuses in July to endorse candidates for town offices, and those not endorsed can petition to be on the ballot for a Sept. 12 primary. Any registered Republican or Democrat who wants to change parties to vote in the opposing primary has until Monday to switch their affiliation.

Both the Republican and Democratic town committees will be holding their caucuses the week of July 18 through July 25. The day after the caucuses, petitions for primaries will be available and candidates wishing to run in a primary must return the petitions by Aug. 9.

Absentee ballots will be available starting Aug. 22. New voter registrations by mail must be received by Sept. 7, and the deadline to register in person is Sept. 11. The primary will be held Sept. 12 from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.

For the Democrats, Dickinson’s 2021 opponent will be back. Riley O’Connell lost that election by only several hundred votes.

Also vying for the Democratic nomination is Councilor Vincent Testa, who also has served on the Board of Education and the Inland Wetlands and Watercourses Commission.

Another member of the Town Council, Republican Chairman Vincent Cervoni, announced in January that he would be seeking the Republican nomination for mayor, and last month Republican Perry Palmer announced that he too is a candidate for the nomination. Palmer said he will pursue running in a primary if he doesn’t get the Republican nod.

Palmer is a newcomer to Wallingford politics after retiring from a career at Pratt and Whitney.

“I’m not a politician. I told the Republican Party that my position is representation of we the people,” Palmer said. While this is his first foray into politics, he grew up surrounded by it, he said. His father was involved with the Republican Party, he said. “You can imagine I had an overdose of politics, and what I see going on now, it’s crazy,” he said.

While he is running as a Republican, as an elected official he would represent everyone, he said, “from the cradle to the grave.

“This is where politics has gone astray,” he said. “Politics should be your resume, your education and then your interview process. Once you’re elected, your job is representation, not affiliation to a party or anything else.”

He describes himself as a moderate with conservative ideals. “So I can work with the other side,” he said. “The main thing is representing the people. The politics has to stay out of it once you’re elected as far as I’m concerned and I feel that this whole nation has gone away from that. We are the best nation in the world, why are we fighting like that?”

Palmer said he has lived most of his life in Wallingford, but has spent time in other towns including Meriden. “I always kiss the ground when I come back to Wallingford. It’s a great town,” he said.


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