Shelton Republicans face challenges from within
Several Republicans are planning to force primaries — and one seat in the crosshairs could be that of longtime Board of Aldermen President John Anglace, Jr.
The Republican Town Committee gathered Monday, July 22, to vote on its slate of candidates for the November election, and, at the time, the most visible conflicts appeared with the Board of Education, where three present members — board Chair Mark Holden, Anne Gaydos and Tom Minotti — were not put forth for vote by the RTC Steering Committee.
All three were nominated from the floor, but none was able to break the top nine of incumbents — Dr. Darlisa Ritter and Kathy Yolish and newcomers Carl Rizzo, Jim Ozaretti, Ben Perry, Don Stanziale, Ruth Parkins, John Fitzgerald and Amy Romano. After the vote, Holden, Minotti and Gaydos each stated their intentions to primary in September.
In all, eight Republicans have obtained paperwork from the registrars of voters office to gather signatures to force a primary. Signatures must be submitted by Aug. 7 to force a primary vote in September.
RTC Chair Anthony Simonetti said the slate was “chosen to continue providing the successful Lauretti Republican administration with stability and to inject new ideas, thoughts and processes to better review and tunnel our city resources for maximum utilization in support of all of our citizens.”
Greg Tetro and Peter Squitieri are gathering signatures to force a primary in the Board of Aldermen’s third ward, which is home to incumbents Anglace and Cris Balamaci.
Tetro helped found Save Our Shelton in response to the Shelter Ridge development and was a major player in the 2017 municipal elections, when he helped campaign for Planning & Zoning candidate Mark Widomski, who ended up winning election, replacing then-P&Z Chair Ruth Parkins.
“After that I made it my goal to run for aldermen,” said Tetro. “2017 was a big blip on the radar, which is why (Mayor Mark Lauretti) packed the (RTC candidates) with his yes-men. I don’t disagree with the mayor on everything. I don’t dislike the mayor. But I don’t think he is always working in the best interest of the city and its residents.”
Tetro said he will push for a more responsible government.
“I understand the mayor has the control, but as an alderman, I can help shape our future,” said Tetro.
Simonetti said recent difficulties regarding spending and other issues within the city, along with continued overspending by the Democratically controlled state legislature, have put an emphasis on doing even more detailed planning to control city spending.
“The Shelton voters are being provided with a team of talented, experienced and very hardworking individuals for each of the boards and commissions to choose from,” said Simonetti.
Squitieri, a longtime teacher and member of Save Our Shelton, said he plans to make education a priority again in Shelton.
“Education is not getting adequate funding,” said Squitieri. “I understand the need to keep taxes low, but at the same time we must invest more in our schools. We need a good balance, and I think I can be the voice of the people.”
Squitieri said the present third ward aldermen are “good people,” but “I feel it is time for some new blood … to pass the torch.”
As a member of the RTC, Squitieri said he was unnerved by many committee members “not voting as they wanted to vote” in Monday’s caucus. He said he nominated Tetro from the floor during the third ward nomination process but many were “persuaded” to stay with the party line.
“Why can’t people vote for who they want to vote for without being cohersed?” asked Squitieri, adding that one member congratulated him on putting forth Tetro and speaking his mind during the caucus.
Simonetti said the RTC members have made “good sound choices 14 times in the past to pick the Shelton citizens who will lead the city in a fashion that mirrors the voters’ request for less government, common sense thinking, while following accountable and frugal spending practices, and low taxes with the goal of doing the right thing and being right at the end of the day to paraphrase Mayor Lauretti. The Republican administration is always striving to meet the needs and goals of all its citizens.”
Squitieri moved to Shelton in 2012 and became involved with Save Our Shelton some four years ago when the Shelter Ridge development, which was near his property, was in the headlines.
“What stood out to me about Shelton was the beauty,” said Squitieri, who moved from New York, where he is a teacher in Mount Vernon, N.Y. “There is a winery, trails, country with the city feel. It is the best of both worlds. Then you hear about big buildings proposed in residential areas that are so invasive. When I read about (Shelter Ridge), I said I had to stand up and fight the good fight.
“It is not about ‘in my backyard,’ this is happening throughout the city,” added Squitieri. “A lot of people do not know what is going on until the trees come down. Then it is too late, and the buildings are going up. Save Our Shelton is here to let people know what is going on.”
Board of A&T
Board of Apportionment & Taxation member Mike Gaydos, who was nominated by the RTC Steering Committee for a return to that role but withdrew his name during Monday’s RTC caucus, is seeking support in forcing a primary in the aldermen’s second ward, where incumbents Stanley Kudej and Eric McPherson earned the RTC nod Monday.
Karen Battistelli, present Board of A&T chair, is seeking to primary for a place back on that board. The RTC Steering Committee left off Battistelli, and when Gaydos removed his name from consideration, RTC Chair Simonetti nominated John Boyko for Gaydos’ seat, RTC member and Board of Education Chair Holden nominated Battistelli. This forced a paper ballot, with John Belden, Jr., Jay Francino-Quinn and Boyko easily earning the nod.
Battistelli said she was “disappointed” she was left off the ballot and decided to take the step to primary “because I still feel I have a great deal to offer the city of Shelton.
“I think I was left off the ballot because I don’t always vote the party line,” added Battistelli. “Most significantly, I voted this year to increase the mill rate slightly above what (Lauretti) was already proposing. I did this to assist the Board of Education with their projected shortfall. With that shortfall there would be a layoff of 14 teachers. This was not all the Board of Education needed, but it was a compromise between what the Board of Education wanted and what the city was willing to provide.”
Battistelli, an accountant who has been in the financial field for more than 25 years, said she believes the board should have someone with a financial background serving.
“The other members of the board that are not in the finance field have a different view on the actions of the board, which is refreshing,” added Battistelli, “however, I feel that it is an asset for have someone familiar with the financial transactions that are used in transfers and budgets.”
Planning & Zoning
Former Democrat-now-Republican Chris Jones, known for running against Lauretti in the past, is seeking to primary to be placed on the GOP ballot for Planning & Zoning. Ginny Harger, Ned Miller and Charlie Kelly were put forth by the RTC Steering Committee, with Jones’ name nominated from the floor. In the paper ballot, Jones was not close to breaking into the top three.