Election Night 2019: Voters Again Support Democratic Majorities On Most Boards, Commissions
UPDATE (November 6, 2019): This story has been updated with the latest registrars' vote counts, corrections to candidates' names, and details about a Council District 3 recount.
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By the time polls closed on a relatively quiet Election Day, nearly 6,000 — or just over 33 percent of Newtown's eligible voters — had cast ballots that would frame the makeup of Newtown's government leadership for the next two years.
And with no top of ticket contest for First Selectman, and a somewhat historic lack of competition on the Board of Selectmen, local races were all about which party would either retain or reclaim majority status on the various boards and commissions that have been almost exclusively controlled by Newtown Democrats since 2017.
Ballot counts reported back to The Newtown Bee that were tallied by local registrars verified that Democrats will retain majorities on all but one of the elected panels they had previously held.
The Board of Finance ended up losing a Democratic seat, which evened the party makeup on that panel 3-3, while Republicans gained additional seats on the council.
Democratic Council Chairman Paul Lundquist said, “I’m excited the Democrats retained the majority,” but regrets that “some great candidates,” who lost the race Tuesday night, “did not get a chance to serve.”
On the GOP side, former school board member Andrew Clure won his first seat on the council in District 3, as did newcomer Cathy Reiss in District 1. Mr Clure told The Bee he was “super excited” to be voted on to the Council.
“I want to say a huge thank you for the support and I will serve the best I can," he added. "I am happy to be joining Phil [Carroll] and the members of the Legislative Council.”
District 3 Recount
In another unique twist, a rare tie for the final council seat in District 3 occurred between Democratic newcomers Carol Walsh and Alison Plante.
Democratic Registrar of Voters LeReine Frampton contacted The Bee just before midnight Tuesday confirming a recount in that single council district would occur the following morning at 9 am in the registrars' utility room at Town Hall South.
That recount outcome saw Ms Plante winning the seat by a single vote 949-948.
In Board of Education balloting, Democratic incumbents came out ahead with Rebekah Harriman-Stites and John Vouros being re-elected to four-year terms. Ms Harriman-Stites said she was glad to see her party “kept a majority on all major boards," and added that she was "excited to move forward.”
On the Republican side, newcomer Deborra Zukowski — the second highest vote-getter in the race — said she was feeling “extremely grateful” for being voted onto the school board.
As the numbers rolled in, Ms Zukowski said, “I tried to make sure that the voters would know who it was they were voting for and the types of things I could do, and it looks like they understood.”
Victorious incumbent Council member Ryan Knapp spoke to GOP candidates and supporters, saying, “I think tonight was a win. Congratulations to everyone who won tonight.”
Mr Paradis closed out the night at Democratic headquarters saying, “I’m proud of the race our team ran. A lot of new people stepped up to volunteer service to the town. It shows that the community matters to all of us. We’ll work together to make Newtown a better place for all of us.”
Next addressing those crowded into the headquarters on Church Hill Road, he said, “You all care about the town more than yourselves.”
'All About Newtown'
First Selectman Dan Rosenthal, who was also at the Democratic location to support the local party, said his race was “the least anticipated,” but his first thoughts were to congratulate the people “who put themselves out there for the community."
He said he has been in the losing position, “which hurts,” but to those who did not win a seat Tuesday night, he said, “I hope people don’t give up and keep trying.”
Mr Rosenthal added, “As the first Tuesday of November comes,” the town sees its division of political parties.
“But after that it’s all about Newtown and doing the right thing for the community. We all have to work together — that’s Newtown,” the first selectman said.
The Town Clerk informed The Bee late Wednesday that verified ballot counts may not be available for another day or more. The registrars' latest vote counts are as follows — unverified winners are designated by *:
Legislative Council Dist 1
William DeRosa (R) 923 / Paul Lundquist (D) 1,166*
Charles Gardner (R) 942 / Chris Eide (D) 1,004*
Cathy Reiss (R) 1,081* / Judit DeStefano (D) 1,095*
Legislative Council Dist 2
Dan Wiedemann (R) 1,091* / Clinton DePaolo (D)1,003
Ryan Knapp (R) 1,154* / Jordana Bloom (D) 1,072*
David Schill (R) 930 / Daniel Honan (D) 1,212*
Legislative Council Dist 3
Phil Carroll (R) 1,002* / Carol Walsh (D) 948 (after recount)
Rance Thompson (R) 927 / Alison Plante* (D) 949 (after recount)
Andrew Clure (R) 1,014* / Chris Smith (D) 965*
Board of Finance
John Madzula II (R) 3,086* / Chris Gardner (D) 3,373*
Sandy Roussas (R) 3,462* / Steve Hinden (D) 3,070
Joseph Girgasky (R) 2,865 / Ned Simpson (D) 3,092*
Matthew Mihalcik (R) 3,140* / Keith Alexander (D) 3,313*
Board of Education
Dennis Brestovansky (R) 2,871 / Rebekah Harriman-Stites (D) 3,356*
Deborra Zukowski (R) 3,513* / John Vouros (D) 3,549*
Board Assessment Appeals
James McFarland (R) 2,807 / Alex Villamil (D) 2,797*
Seth G. Cohen (R) 2,692 / Brynn Cullen (D) 2,841* (To fill a 2 year vacancy)
Planning & Zoning Commission
Dennis Bloom (R) 2,904* / Corrine Cox (D) 3,039*
Roy Meadows (R) 2,782 / Benjamin Toby (D) 2,881
Jim Swift (R) 2,990*
Planning & Zoning Alternates
David Ruhs (R) 2,975 / David Rosen (D) 3,206*
Nick Cabral (R) 3,126* / Andrew Marone (D) 3,172*
Zoning Board of Appeals
Jane Sharp (R) 3,500* / Ross Carley (D) 3,334*
Andrew T. Garthwait (R) 2,886 / Prerna Rao (D) 2,928*
Zoning Board of Appeals Alternates
Rachel Rowan (R) 3,244* / Christina Paradis (D) 3,205*
Robin Buchanan (R) 2,968 / Joe Bojnowski (D) 3,127*
Neil Chaudhary (R) 3,493* / Joan Plouffe (D) 3,209*
Brian Budd (R) 2,983 / Joel Faxon (D) 3,208*
ETH Board of Managers
Margot Hall (R) 2,530* / Herb Rosenthal (D) 3,181*
Lisa Schwartz* (D) 3,879 (To fill a 2 year vacancy)
Board of Selectmen (All unopposed)
Jeff Capeci (R) 2,590
Maureen CrickOwen (D) 3,092
First Selectman Dan Rosenthal (D) 4,279