Despite incumbent Mark Lauretti not having an opponent for the first time in his 26 years as mayor of Shelton, he said it’s as important as ever for residents to get out and vote.
The Shelton Republican said he has no way of knowing whether the lack of an opponent on the top line of the ballot will affect overall voter turnout, but he plans to do his part in making sure people do visit the polls.
“There’s no question I will be doing that [encouraging residents to vote] because I know the Democrats are out there will be doing that,” said Lauretti in regard to Democratic candidates encouraging residents to vote.
Mark Widomski, a Republican candidate who earned a spot on the ballot for the Planning & Zoning Commission after he collected more than 400 verified signatures from residents on a petition, said he expects a lower total voter turnout in this year’s election, but doesn’t anticipate any impact on his race.
“I think that the people who are going to come out to vote are coming specifically for Planning and Zoning,” said Widomski.
There are three candidates for Planning and Zoning on the Republican side. In addition to Widomski, Chairman Ruth Parkins and Commissioner Tony Pagoda are running for reelection.
On the Democratic side, incumbent Jimmy Tickey is running for reelection and Lud Spinelli is running in hopes of helping his party cause a 3-3 split on the commission.
The commission currently consists of four Republican members and two Democrats.
Factions among Republican party?
Lauretti said he supports most Republican candidates on the ticket for the 2017 municipal elections, and plans to “expose” the ones who he doesn’t support.
“We’ve got another full month to go so I’m going to put together a campaign that exposes people like S.O.S, Widomski and Perillo,” said Lauretti. “These guys are trying to turn back the hands of development, the hands of time.
“We as Republicans have defeated the enemy, now the enemy is us. It’s not a secret, Jason Perillo is in a different place. Despite what he said, nobody believes that. No one.”
Lauretti is referring to Perillo’s claim that he had no influence on Widomski choosing to run for a spot on the P&Z.
Perillo kept his comments regarding Lauretti’s claims brief.
“This has become juvenile and I’m done talking about it,” said Perillo who has already denied these allegations.
Lauretti said he was told Widomski was speaking with other leaders in the city’s Republican party when he admitted that Perillo was an influence on him choosing to run.
“He went and told John Anglace and two other people, so who’s he kidding? Who’s he being disingenuous to?,” said Lauretti of Widomski. “This is the nature of this guy, he’s very divisive. He ran against me as for mayor back in 2009. Everyone that knows what’s going on doesn’t buy it.
“His goal is to be divisive and shut down development. His father was like that and he’s like that and Perillo is trying to help them. He just wants to get even with Ruth Parkins and me.”
Parkins primaried Perillo for State Representative of the 113th District in 2016 but lost.
Widomski also denied Lauretti’s claims. He said that Anglace, and an undisclosed source in the Republican party, met with him and tried to convince him not to run for a spot on P&Z.
“That’s between Mark, Jason and her,” said Widomski. “I’m running because I don’t like the direction the city’s going, simple as that. It has nothing to do with Ruth Parkins running against Perillo and has nothing to do with Mark Lauretti endorsing Parkins last year. I am looking out for the best interest of the city and Ruth Parkins is not that best interest.
“They were afraid they would lose a seat and lose the majority on the Planning and Zoning Commission. But they can’t because the worst that would happen in this election is that it would end up three, three.”
Anglace said he doesn’t recall having a conversation with Widomski about him running for P&Z.
“It isn’t a big deal to me but I don’t remember. There’s so much going on,” said Anglace.
Widomski added that the undisclosed source present for the conversation he allegedly had with Anglace told him that by running, he could potentially steal votes from incumbents Parkins and Pagoda.
He added that if elected he plans to work with the entire commission and his reason for running is for the greater good of the city.
Shelton’s mayor shot down Widomski and other candidates campaigns that push for “responsible development.”
“That’s nonsense. That sounds good, but we’ve never had more developments in the downtown area in 50 years,” said Lauretti. “When people say things like that that means they’re struggling with the truth. Like we can pick and choose where people invest their money. It doesn’t work that way.”
Tickey, who’s also running for a spot on P&Z, gives Widomski credit for collecting more than 400 signatures from electors and said he, too, is advocating for “balanced development.”
“That was no easy feat. He did it and it happens not only because he put in the work, but also because people are responding to him,” said Tickey. “I think that the issues that are at stake in town are of the utmost importance when it comes to P&Z. We have seen over the last few years massive developments come before the commission and I have time and time again been the leading voice on balanced development and thoughtful planning. I don’t think you need to develop every inch of land for the sake of development, I think that we need to be thoughtful about what works best for Shelton and I think we need to be very cautious about high-density residential proposals. I have fought against them and I think people are taking note of that and are with me because they too want to maintain the character of their neighborhoods and if there’s development they want the kind that brings good jobs and maintains the tax base. That isn’t a sprawl of high density apartments. That’s why I’m running again because I feel my voice is most effective on the P&Z Commission right now.”