A portion of Shelton’s Republican party is looking to change the dynamics of the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission, starting with who’s elected and re-elected come November.
Last week it was announced that a new candidate had earned a spot on the November ballot for one of the three available four-year terms on the P&Z commission. Mark Widomski, a Republican that ran as an independent candidate for mayor back in 2009, collected 418 signatures from residents to qualify him for a spot on the Nov. 7 ballot.
“The community support shows that the town is a little unhappy with the way things are,” said Widomski.
There was an attempt to nominate Widomski from the floor at this year’s Republican Town Committee meeting, where the party’s slate of candidates was announced, but it fell through because he failed to provide 24 hours notice.
In a final effort to get his name on the ballot, Widomski was faced with the challenge of collecting 359 verified signatures from residents. With the help of Save Our Shelton (SOS), a community group known for its opposition to spot zoning and “over-development,” Widomski collected even more signatures than was required.
406 of Widomski’s 418 signatures were accepted. The remaining 12 were written in illegible handwriting or included an error where the political party should have been stated, according to campaign supporter Gregory Tetro, who also works closely with Widomski as a part of SOS.
“We know him from SOS and we know he shares our same concern that we are over-developing our city, too fast and some of the decisions being made are not in the best interest of Shelton residents,” said Tetro. “We feel that he shares that vision on how to best help Shelton.”
Widomski will be one of five candidates competing for a spot on the city’s P&Z Commission in the Nov. 7 election. He will face-off against P&Z Chair Ruth Parkins and incumbent Anthony Pagoda on the Republican side. The city’s Democratic party endorsed incumbent Jimmy Tickey and former Alderman Lud Spinelli.
Rules limit two of the three candidates that receive the most votes to come from the same political party.
Widomski said he was confident that he would collect enough signatures to lock in a spot on the November ballot.
“We only had a 3% rejection rate.” said Widomski in regard to the collecting of his signatures.
He plans to do the door-to-door outreach come September.
Widomski said he stands for the people of Shelton’s best interest.
“Responsible development. No more spot zoning, we’re going to maintain the neighborhoods as they should be,” said Widomski.
Tetro said Widomski is not the only person that SOS will be standing behind come this year’s election.
“We’re supporting all of the candidates that we believe are running to see the best for the people of Shelton,” said Tetro. “It’s not just Mark Widomski. Jimmy Tickey has been tremendous, as well as Anthony Pagoda. We’re going to be looking to get the people who we think can help to save what’s left of Shelton from over development or bad developments.”
In a “perfect scenario,” Tetro said he would like to see Widomski, Pagoda and Tickey win this year’s election for spots on the city’s P&Z Commission.
“They would be great to fill those positions,” said Tetro. “We feel that her [P&Z Commissioner Ruth Parkins] vision is the same as the mayor’s vision and we don’t 100% percent agree with their vision of what Shelton should be. I don’t think we need 400,000 square feet of retail, I don’t think we need to tear every part of this town and sell it off.”
Tetro said he is hopeful that new P&Z commissioners will equal to more of a public opinion being considered during the approval process of developments. He referenced the first Shelter Ridge public hearing that took place last year, where hundreds of residents showed up to oppose the project, only to have it approved after a year-long decision process.
When asked if he would run for commission chair should be be voted in for one of the available spots, Widomski said his focus at this point is getting elected.
“That’s my goal at this point,” said Widomski. “We accomplished the goal of getting on the ballot, now we have to accomplish the win.”