Shelton GOP facing competition for control of Board of Aldermen

Photo of Brian Gioiele

SHELTON — The battle for control of the Board of Aldermen has a new competitor in the mix — Envision Shelton, built as a bipartisan political action committee to oppose last year’s charter revision proposal.

Earlier this year, the group stepped up its political push, forming a slate as its members seek to wrest power from local Republicans, who have all seats on the eight-person board, on Election Day, Nov. 2.

Six Republican incumbents — Anthony Simonetti in the 1st Ward, Eric McPhearson and Joanna Carloni in the 2nd Ward, board President John Anglace, Jr., and Cris Balamaci in the 3rd Ward and Bernie Simons in the 4th Ward — are running for reelection on the Republican ticket.

The Republicans also offered two new faces: Porter McKinnon, known for his years leading the Shelton Quarterback Club, is running for David Gidwani’s seat in the 1st Ward, and Lorenzo Durante is running in the 4th Ward, replacing longtime Alderman Noreen McGorty who chose not to run for reelection.

One of the Republicans seeking reelection, however, is not on the GOP ticket — Gidwani.

Gidwani, a registered Republican and vocal critic of Mayor Mark Lauretti and the GOP-controlled aldermen, is running in the 1st Ward under the Envision Shelton banner.

“I think that the biggest issue in Shelton is that the citizens have lost their voices with my colleagues currently on the BOA,” Gidwani said. “My constituents are concerned about the direction of our city. They feel like developers’ wants are more important than their own needs, needs we should be addressing like quality of life, growing our grand list in a way that preserves the character of our town, and economic development. We all have a chance to change that in this election.”

He is joined by Michelle Bialek in the 2nd Ward, Matt McGee and Chris Jones in the 3rd Ward, and Michelle Laubin and Amanda Kilmartin in the 4th Ward on the Envision Shelton ticket.

Shelton Democrats — after endorsing David Gioiello, Jr., and Wayne Bragg in the 1st Ward, Kevin Kosty in the 2nd Ward, and Michael Duncan in the 3rd Ward —

then gave their support to fellow Democrats Bialek, McGee, Laubin and Kilmartin in their challenges for aldermen seats.

While the two groups hold different lines on the November ballot, candidates from both groups said the time has come to bring transparency to City Hall, with more open discussions on annual budgets, operation of the city-run student transportation company and downtown development.

“There is a need for fresh representation at City Hall,” Kosty said, adding that residents need “elected officials who can listen when the people they represent bring issues that need to be addressed, such as the lack of parking downtown, and develop a plan for addressing those concerns.”

Kosty and the other challengers agreed that the Board of Alderman must be able to work together with both private and public interests but prioritize the needs of residents.

Laubin said the city government as currently configured “does not do an adequate job of planning for the future, saving for a rainy day, holding itself accountable for meeting basic objectives of municipal government, or inviting citizens to participate in shaping the future of Shelton in any meaningful way.

“We need people at the table who are willing to do the work and speak up on behalf of the people that they represent,” Laubin added.

Anglace, who has been on the board since Lauretti’s first day in office 30 years ago, said simply, “why change it if it isn’t broken.

“Our fiscal focus should be on the future ... leave the politics at the door and it will work,” Anglace said. “Shelton is the envy of our neighboring communities. We are growing in a balanced way that ensures continuation of our values and our quality of life.

“There have been many new people who recently made the decision to move to Shelton who reinforce the notion that Shelton is a community of choice,” Anglace added. “They know why life in Shelton was so attractive to them. Whatever the reason, I urge them to remember it when they enter the polling place.”

Kilmartin, a Democrat and current Board of Education member, said she has watched as Lauretti has not, in her opinion, funded the school system properly while engaging in lawsuits against the board.

“Unfortunately, we also have a Board of Aldermen who are more interested in being Lauretti’s ‘yes men and women’ than in having any discussion about how to more effectively spend the hard-earned dollars we entrust them with every year,” Kilmartin said. “As alderman, I will fight to have those long overdue conversations and to explore ways to more effectively use our tax dollars to continue strengthening and improving this community.”

Carloni, who was appointed eight months ago after the death of then-2nd Ward Alderman Stanley Kudej, said her focus remains that of her Republican colleagues.

“I have focused on, and will continue to be vigilant, on reviewing each department’s budget to assure all departments are staying within their approved spending limits,” Carloni said. “I also intend to make sure that downtown redevelopment, any blighted property, safety issues and road repair are being addressed by the appropriate department in City Hall.

“I especially look forward to continuing the newly established cooperation between the BOA and the BOE with regard to the BOE budget and student needs,” she added.