Recanvassing of Board of Aldermen Fourth Ward votes Friday, Sept. 13, not only verified Bernie Simons’ victory but also increased his margin by one vote.

After more than two hours, the registrars of voters office, under the guidance of longtime Republican Registrar Peter Pavone, determined that Simons edged the incumbent Jim Capra, 324-318, in the Republican primary Tuesday, Sept. 10. The recanvassing was ordered after unofficial totals showed Simons winning by a mere five votes, with that margin leading to an automatic recanvassing.

“Everything went very smooth ... we have a good team,” said Pavone after the recanvassing was completed just before noon. “Through visually inspecting the absentee ballots, we discovered one voter intent changed, and that is what brought the count down for (Capra) by one.”

Simons, with the backing of Mayor Mark Lauretti and other Republican Town Committee members, had forced a primary in the Fourth Ward against Capra, who was originally endorsed by the RTC in July but fell out of favor with top Republicans only days later. Now the Fourth Ward will be represented by Simons and incumbent Noreen McGorty (475 votes), both of whom are running unopposed in November.

“It has been an honor serving the Fourth Ward and the city of Shelton the past four years,” said Capra after hearing the official results. “I wish Bernie the best as alderman. I will be keeping my options open for the future.”

Unofficial tallies Tuesday, Sept. 10, showed that those GOP candidates backed by Lauretti and the RTC swept the city’s primary against the newly formed Here for Shelton group, which included Capra as well as Save Our Shelton members Greg Tetro and Peter Squitieri (Board of Aldermen, Third Ward), Mike Gaydos (Board of Aldermen, Second Ward) and Chris Jones (Planning & Zoning) and incumbent Board of Education members Mark Holden, Anne Gaydos and Tom Minotti.

“It is hard to imagine after 28 years that our own would challenge us,” said Lauretti after learning the results with the winning candidates and supporters at the Czech Club Tuesday. “We did a great job in 1991, and we did a great job today, in 2019. This shows how important the team concept is. People say to me all the time what a wonderful job I have done. I could not do such a wonderful job without the supporting cast I’ve had for 28 years.”

“I tried. We tried,” said Holden. “They had more money, and they had some good lies. People on our team didn't want to raise your taxes. We thought money could be freed up by avoiding frivolous lawsuits against ourselves and cooperating like reasonable people. I'll remain active in community service, but I'll also devote some time to growing my insurance business.”

In Ward Three, longtime Board of Aldermen President John Anglace, Jr., finished with 471 votes and fellow incumbent Cris Balamaci earned 411, while Tetro had 238, Squitieri 215.

“This is a real affirmation of the Lauretti team” said Anglace. “This was done by the entire Republican party. Now I expect everyone to get back on the team for the general election.”

Longtime Board of Aldermen Second Ward incumbents Eric McPhearson (379 votes) and Stanley Kudej (363 votes) each made it to the November ballot, easily topping Mike Gaydos (156 votes), presently on the city’s Board of Apportionment & Taxation.

In the end, Lauretti’s quest to reshape the Board of Education took its next step, as incumbents Dr. Darlisa Ritter (1,774 votes) and Kathy Yolish (1,814 votes), along with RTC-endorsed Carl Rizzo (1,781 votes), Jim Orazietti (1,752 votes), Ben Perry (1,739 votes), Don Stanziale, Jr. (1,725 votes), Ruth Parkins (1,581 votes), John Fitzgerald (1,686 votes) and Amy Romano (1,819 votes) all topped present board Chair Mark Holden, Minotti and Gaydos. Minotti had 973 votes, Gaydos 925 and Holden 890.

“The Republican voters have spoken,” said Anne Gaydos, “and while I'm disappointed that I was not re-elected, I am proud of the time I served on the board, and stand by the fiscally responsible votes I made that supported what was best for our students and our school system.

“I plan on volunteering my time in other ways in our community. I wish the nine Board of Education candidates well, and I look forward to seeing what they will do for our students, and hope that they work well with and support our superintendent and his vision for the future of Shelton public schools,” added Gaydos.

RTC-endorsed Planning & Zoning Commission candidates also swept in for the November election, as primary hopeful Jones, the longtime Democrat who recently joined the Republican party, finished behind present P&Z Chair Virginia Harger (1,603 votes) and fellow incumbents Charles Kelly III (1,775 votes) and Ned Miller (1,794 votes). Jones finished with 1,050 votes.

brian.gioiele@hearstmediact.com