With less than two months until Election Day, Shelton’s candidates for local boards have begun to expand their campaigns to voters‘ doorsteps.
For some it’s their first time running a campaign. For others, this is the first election season in decades that they’re not formally a part of.
Jack Finn, for a long time the lone Democratic alderman, is entering his first campaign season in more than 30 years where he won’t be seeking reelection. Though he’s not on a ballot in 2017, he’s still enjoying the road leading up to elections as he’s been assisting candidate for first ward Alderman, Adam Heller, with his campaign.
“Adam [Heller] and I have been doing to door-to-door campaigning and it’s been going well,” said Finn who admitted that he enjoys this part of the election process. “This is where candidates find out the issues that matter to the residents.”
Heller is opposed by incumbent first ward Alderman Anthony Simonetti and David Gidwani, who lost in a close race against Jack Finn for a spot on the board back in 2015.
With experienced party members like Finn nearby, some new faces have followed in his footsteps and begun to knock on doors.
“About 300 or so doors,” said Democratic candidate for Second Ward Alderman Kevin Kosty. “People said they appreciate the face-to-face interaction from candidates. Road conditions and development have proven to be the issues that are on everybody’s mind …”
Kosty said he and fellow Democratic candidate for Second Ward Alderman, Jason Jones, have spent multiple days knocking on voters doors.
“People are very excited to see new faces, and very excited to see young faces,” said Jones, who added that he and Kosty are both looking for volunteers to help share their names with voters in the community. “We just need the voter turnout to go up, we’ll all benefit from it.”
Jones and Kosty are opposed by Incumbents Stanley Kudej and Eric McPherson.
Democratic candidate for Third Ward Alderman Timothy Bristol also said he’s begun his door-to-door campaign. He’s opposed by Republican Incumbents Cris Balamaci, who recently was appointed to the board when Lynn Farrell resigned, and current Aldermen President John Anglace.
Mayor Mark Lauretti said although he welcomes the new perspectives that come along with new, young candidates, the younger generation must prove themselves.
“They’re from a different generation and it’s an unproven one,” said Lauretti. “It’s OK to have new and fresh ideas, but at the end of the day they have to work and serve the greater good.”
Democratic Town Chairman Dave Gioiello said he’s hoping these young candidates in his party can help to shift the majority Republican dynamics on both the P&Z and Board of Aldermen.
With Incumbents Jim Capra and Noreen McGorty running unopposed in the fourth ward, the Republican party looks to maintain their control.
“If we can get some people on the Board of Aldermen we can get some debate on some of these issues rather than decide on everything before they walk in the door,” said Gioiello. “For P&Z, if we can get it to three, three they’re going to have to share power and there’ll no deals behind doors, as Frank Osak said…”
Osak, who resigned from his position as alternate on the P&Z this year, has gained the reputation for being critical of how he thinks the commission’s dynamics have changed since when he first joined in 1962.
Gioiello said the Board of Education is one of the few boards where political affiliation falls by the wayside and the members are consistently able to focus on the main priority, which in this case is the wellbeing of the students.
Lauretti’s eyes are on P&Z election
In the midst of running his 2018 campaign for governor and his everyday campaign for mayor, despite being unopposed in the 2017 election, Lauretti said he’s been keeping an eye on the three spots up for grabs on the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission.
“I’ve been focused on S.O.S. (Save Our Shelton) and their plight because in my mind they’re very personal and want to shut down development,” said Lauretti.
The mayor of 26 years added that he opposes the community group’s effort to target P&Z Chairman Ruth Parkins, and said they’ve had some guidance in implementing that tactic. In an ideal situation, Lauretti said he would like for Parkins and incumbent P&Z Commissioner Tony Pagoda to be re-elected in the two possible Republican spots.
“I think Jason Perillo is out to get Ruth,” said Lauretti before explaining that he believes the Republican state representative of the 113 District talked Republican candidate for P&Z, Mark Widomski, into running. “Mark Widomski told someone that Jason talked to him about doing this.”
By doing “this,” the mayor is referring to Widomski seeking enough signatures to qualify as a candidate.
Widomski collected 406 signatures and a spot on the ballot. He admitted that he’s not fond of Parkins’ performance as P&Z chairman.
“She’s working for the developer and not the people that she’s voted in by,” said Widomski.
Lauretti said Widomski is simply opposed to development.
“He wasn’t nominated. He’s a petition candidate. [He] and his father have a history of being anti-development,” said Lauretti. “We have some people [on the P&Z Commission] that are anti-development. They want to call it ‘responsible development’, like the rest of us are just stupid and don’t get it.”
Both Widomski and Perillo said Lauretti’s assumptions are incorrect.
“It’s actually the other way around. I approached Jason first,” said Widomski. “It was a conversation about what do you think about this and he liked it, and I just happened to go forward with it and now we are where we are today.”
“I did not put up Mark Widomski to run. I believe wholeheartedly that the Planning & Zoning Commission should continue with majority Republicans, and I believe that the two best Republicans to continue and advance Planning & Zoning’s good work are Mark Widomski and Tony Pagoda. I served on the P&Z with Tony Pagoda, that man understands what he’s doing and truly has the best for Shelton at heart,” Perillo said.
“It’s quite the contrary actually. If you look at the foundation of Shelton’s success it has been because of development done in a thoughtful way,” Perillo added. “I support thoughtful development. I do not support development for the sake of development.”
Widomski said now that he’s earned a spot on the 2017 ballot, he’s now focused on winning a spot on the P&Z Commission and working toward finding solutions for issues that he’s heard from residents since he’s begun his door-to-door campaign.
“People are upset that there’s more developments taking place downtown with not enough parking and with the high density of developments as well,” said Widomski. “Let’s plan our town smartly and take care of the issues we are currently facing.”