This story has been modified to include comments by Selectman James Gaston, Sr.
Newtown's Democratic Town Committee announced its candidates for November's ballot following a caucus on July 23 at Edmond Town Hall. Former First Selectman Herb Rosenthal, the DTC’s candidates committee chair and an incumbent candidate for ZBA alternate, said after a challenging recruitment period, nearly two dozen “good people” stepped up to serve.
“We were fortunate that most incumbents said they would run again,” Mr Rosenthal said. “It was hard to find people to run this year, so we needed these good people.”
First and foremost, Mr Rosenthal said the DTC was not planning to recruit a candidate to oppose Republican First Selectman Pat Llodra.
“We are not cross-endorsing, we just opted not to run anyone against her,” he said.
The former top local official said that in order to win against an average incumbent in any election cycle requires “aggressive campaigning.”
“The town is still in healing mode, and Pat has led us through all this,” Mr Rosenthal said, referring to the 12/14 tragedy. “So once we had a good idea she was running again, we made no effort to find a candidate, and no one came forward to run against her.”
Incumbent Selectman James O. Gaston, Sr, who also serves as the Borough of Newtown Warden, was nominated for another term at Tuesday's caucus. Mr Gaston and his Republican counterpart, incumbent Selectman Will Rodgers are so far facing no opposition.
Mr Gaston told The Bee, “It’s again a great honor and privilege to be unanimously nominated as a candidate for the Board of Selectmen. The past two years have seen trying times, but together we will move forward.”
The Democratic Selectman said he believes the coming years will be a critical time for Newtown.
“We will see new leadership in our schools, and experience continued economic pressures. In order to meet these challenges we must not be one dimensional in our thinking,” he said, “we must be inclusive, not exclusive in the process and restore balance to our town government.”
Mr Gaston said when taxes were lower, and when Newtown had a Blue Ribbon high school, the Republican-Democratic split was three to three on the Board of Education and Board of Finance. And the balance was also relatively even on the Legislative Counci.
“This balance of ideas and representation made us better,” Mr Gaston said.“Over the next two years we need to not only be better, but we need to be our best to fully address education, taxes, economic development, preservation of our core community treasures, healing, and cultural arts.”
For Town Clerk, the DTC is fielding former Assistant Town Clerk Ann M. LoBosco-Benore, Mr Rosenthal said. Ms Benore currently serves as case manager in the town Social Services Department.
Former Board of Finance member Michael Portnoy has been nominated to run again for a seat on that panel, along with Michael P. Kelly.
For two open four-year seats on the Board of Education, the DTC has nominated former Charter Revision Commissioner Michelle Embree Ku and Laura F. Main.
Former Board of Ed member Anna Wiedemann will stand for election to a two-year school board term, Mr Rosenthal said.
Borough Zoning Attorney Don Mitchell will run for the Planning and Zoning commission, looking to retain the seat of retiring long-time P&Z Chair Lila Dean, according to Mr Rosenthal.
Incumbent P&Z Alternate Rudolph Pozek will also seek re-election, along with Zoning Board of Appeals incumbent Alan Clavette.
Incumbent Andrew Sachs will seek to retain his seat on the Police Commission, and incumbent Mary Fellows was endorsed for the Edmond Town Hall Board of Managers.
In District 1 for the Legislative Council, the DTC has endorsed incumbent Paul Lundquist, along with Paul J. Dwyer and Ross P. Carley, who is a current ZBA and Fairfield Hills Authority member.
Incumbent Daniel Honan plans to seek re-election in Council District 2 along with Eric Paradis and former 106th District contender Lisa Romano.
In District 3, incumbent Daniel Amaral will seek re-election along with Jane Bojnowski and Nancy Juliano.
Mr Rosenthal said like his GOP counterparts, the Town Committee can opt to fill any vacancies on their respective tickets. The ballot will not become official until the deadline to file to primary has passed.
Local elections will be held this year on November 5.