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Rosenthal Likely To Run Unopposed



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Rosenthal Likely To Run Unopposed

By John Voket

Saying he plans to formally announce his intention sometime in early July, First Selectman Herb Rosenthal acknowledged that he will seek reelection to the town’s top political post. Mr Rosenthal, who is a Democrat, told The Bee on Monday that he will campaign to keep his job for another term, even though it seems likely that he will run unopposed.

Marie Sturdevant, chairman of the local GOP’s nominating committee, said that Republicans will support their incumbent selectman, William Brimmer, Jr, but will not endorse a party candidate to run against Mr Rosenthal.

“We will have a pretty full slate nominated,” Ms Sturdevant said, “but no one is interested in the first selectman’s seat.”

Conceding that it would be marvelous to have another capable candidate on the ballot for the town’s top job, the GOP party leader believes there are several reasons why she suspects no contender came forward for the nomination.

“First and foremost, Herb is doing a good job,” Ms Sturdevant said. “But I’m sure some of it has to do with the money. It’s hard to give up job security for a two-year term.”

She also blamed recent political scandals, particularly involving former governor John Rowland who is currently serving prison time after pleading guilty to a felony involving the acceptance of gifts and gratuities from political supporters and those courting state contracts.

“A lot more people are disillusioned about the political system today,” Ms Sturdevant said. “The [scandal] involving John Rowland was like a punch in the stomach. It left a lot of people besides the party faithful wondering who can you trust?”

She said while some new candidates have come forward, and would likely be seen on the ballot come November, it takes a unique home environment to adjust to the demands of even small town political service.

“With the increased workload on most families, it’s pretty hard for a spouse or a parent to say, ‘I’m going to be out at meetings three or four times each month, maybe a lot more during the budget process,’” she said.

While neither Democratic nominating chairman David Nanavaty nor Democratic Town Committee chairman Earl Smith returned calls seeking their comments on behalf of their party, Ms Sturdevant said it may be a ho-hum year as far as local politics is concerned.

“That hasn’t always been the case, but this time around it looks like things will be pretty straightforward,” she said. Ms Sturdevant said that as of midweek, the Republicans had all but completed their party ticket, which will be officially nominated during the GOP caucus, scheduled for Monday, July 25, at the Senior Center meeting room.

“We just have one more interview for the Third District Legislative Council seat and I think we’ll be all set,” she said.

Saying she could not remember more than a few times first selectman candidates engaged in a primary over the past few decades, she did note that in 2003, the Board of Education had three candidates vying for a single seat.

“Our town committee and I made a motion that we needed more than one candidate for the open seat,” Ms Sturdevant said. “And we endorsed the same concept this year.”

Early on in the process, however, only one potential candidate tendered an interest in running for the only open seat on the school board in 2005. According to Ms Sturdevant, Republican George Caracciolo said he would seek the nomination for the Board of Education’s chairman’s seat.

“Typically we don’t support primaries except for first selectman,” she said. “And since we were committed to supporting Elaine McClure for reelection to that position, he told us he was not interested.”

Ms Sturdevant said Mr Caracciolo told the nominating committee that if Elaine and he were both endorsed, he would go as far as the caucus process, but if he did not receive the sole party nomination there, “he did not want to run a townwide [primary]campaign for the seat.”

Even though the Republican Party in Newtown seems to have its candidates all but lined up for the November race, it remains to be seen if Democratic nominations will be similarly structured.

And although it happens very infrequently on the local level, Town Clerk Cynthia Simon said that any independent or unaffiliated voter who wishes to seek a spot on any position of the November ballot can do so relatively easily.

“A petitioning candidate would only need to get enough qualified signatures of support to equal one percent of the total votes cast for the same seat in the last local election,” the town clerk confirmed.

Ms Simon said that in the last election, the total number of votes cast for the office of first selectman, for example, was 6,341. That means a prospective candidate would only need to get 63 qualifying signatures on a petition to get on the ballot as an independent candidate.

Or, Ms Simon explained, if they are registered with a party, they just have to show up at a caucus with enough people to nominate them and second the nomination.

“The slate of nominees are generally only the candidates the town committees recommend to the caucus, but the caucus is open to all registered party members in town,” she said. “While the town committees votes on recommendation from their nominating committees, any registered party member can get another member to nominate them.”

While that opportunity has always been available, Ms Simon admitted that she could not remember the last time there was an active challenger within the same party for the same seat.

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