With approximately three weeks until voters will make their way to the polls to decide who will serve on their local boards and commissions, candidates are continuing their door-to-door efforts in hope of gaining as much support from residents as possible.
Incumbent 1st Ward Alderman Anthony Simonetti (R) said that although many members of his party are taking part in the door-to-door campaigns, not every candidate has the Republican Party’s support.
“They should vote for the candidates that the Republican party has endorsed,” said Simonetti. “Ruth Parkins, Tony Pogoda and Ned Miller for Planning and Zoning. They’ve been there, know their jobs and vetted these people years ago. These candidates know the work they have to do and the amount of time it requires to do the job well. It can be exhausting, but it’s important.
“P&Z is one of those boards that means so much to the city. It brings the city the taxes that it needs to run and is a group that needs to run very coherently together. We feel that Parkins, Pogoda, and Miller are the people for the job.”
One candidate running for a spot on the Planning and Zoning Commission that the city’s Republican Party didn’t endorse is Mark Widomski. Despite Widomski having proven himself in many people’s eyes by earning a spot on the ballot after collecting more than 400 signatures from residents, Simonetti said he doesn’t have the support of his party.
“He’s not endorsed. We endorsed the people we wanted and he decided to go another route without any discussion with the persons like myself or anyone else that are out here every day,” said Simonetti. “There’s no reason for him to be running, we don’t appreciate people who do something like that, because we have our people who we wanted to run and are the best for the positions. Mark has no experience on the board at all and he hasn’t come to me about it.”
Simonetti said in order for Widomski to receive support from the city’s Republican Party, should he be elected, he would need to “follow in the party line and continue the work that the P&Z has been doing right along.”
Widomski said regardless of the support he does or does not receive from his own party, he plans to do what’s best for the residents of Shelton.
“I am not going to get involved in petty politics that people are so tired of,” said Widomski. “I am here to work for and listen to all the residents of Shelton while still encouraging growth and development where it is most appropriate.”
Establishing a rapport with voters
Incumbent 1st Ward Alderman Adam Heller, who assumed the place of Jack Finn after he announced his resignation, and incumbent Planning and Zoning Commissioner Jimmy Tickey have also been consistently hitting the campaign trail.
With no opponent for Mayor Mark Lauretti in the 2017 election, some residents have speculated that there will be a decrease in voter turnout.
Some candidates think that a decrease in voter turnout could ultimately affect the outcome of the election in a positive way.
“I think in this case it’s OK because Democrats notoriously stay home, so I think we’re going to get them to come out with this big effort we’re all doing,” said Heller. “But I think on the Republican side it could be a factor for them. They think they don’t have to worry about it, so more of them may stay home.”
Heller added that the endorsement from Finn has boosted his confidence but hasn’t made him lose focus on the work he still has to put in for himself.
“It’s been very helpful that Jack Finn has been walking with me a lot. He’s opened some doors for me that otherwise may not have opened,” said Heller.
Tickey, who’s focused on getting re-elected to the city’s P&Z, said his campaign is different from that of an alderman because he’s forced to visit all parts of the city.
“I love it,” said Tickey. “It gives me a chance to meet with more people — every vote counts.”
The incumbent P&Z commissioner added that the Democratic Party is still recruiting volunteers to help with the campaigns, and anyone interested in getting involved may visit sheltondemocrats.com/ to get more information.
While discussing the possible outcome of the election, in terms of potential occupants of the city’s boards and commissions, Tickey said he believes the work the Democratic candidates are putting in will benefit the party.
With this being the first time in more than three decades that Finn isn’t seeking re-election, Heller explained how he’s handling the responsibility that comes with potentially being the only Democrat on the city’s Board of Aldermen.
“I don’t feel any pressure at all. I don’t really feel as though I’m in opposition to them just because I’m a Democrat. We should all be in this for the same or similar reasons, we’re all serving the residents and should be able to discuss that,” said Heller. “[Finn’s endorsement] has been immensely helpful and means a lot. It’s encouraging that someone who’s weathered the storm for so long feels confident and comfortable endorsing me.”
As the only Democrat running for alderman in the 1st Ward, Heller is opposed by Simonetti and David Gidwani, who lost in a close race to Finn back in 2015.
Simonetti said he feels Gidwani would be a good addition to the board.
He acknowledged Finn’s departure by saying that anytime someone leaves a position they’ve held for a long time, there will be an adjustment period, but he believes the change will be positive.
“David is a big community guy, he’s got two kids in the school system, he’s a wonderful, smart gentleman who thinks outside the box and isn’t controlled by anybody,” said Simonetti. “I’ve liked him since I met him and he’s very on top of the issues that people care about, which is very important when running to be alderman. Either way, I’m going to run my race and continue doing what I’m doing.
“Some people think that just because the mayor is running unopposed they don’t need to vote, so I make sure to tell them that the people who actually make a lot of the decisions on things like the budget are the aldermen, No. 1, and also people on the other boards and commissions. These are all very important positions that are responsible for making the city run properly.”
Gidwani was unavailable for comment as of Wednesday, Oct. 18.
Simonetti has also been busy with the door-knocking portion of his campaign and said visiting parts of town that he grew up in is very nostalgic.
“I used to live on Rocky Rest Road. It’s amazing to be able to come back here and go door to door on streets that I have memories of riding my bike down,” said Simonetti.
Despite the mayor not having an opponent for the first time in his 26 years in office, his presence during campaign season has remained, as he still has put up signs all over the community.
“We’re not going to change our approach in the Republican Party. We know our strengths and we know what we’re doing,” said Simonetti. “As Mayor Lauretti always says, you have to do what’s right for the people of Shelton. The right thing is to let the residents know that he’s still running and fighting for them every day of the week. Every day he’s helping the city to grow and get better.”