By JEN CARDINES
For eight years, the Democratic headquarters has been a tough event, so it’s no surprise that they gathered quietly in the Mason Hall downtown as Democratic Town Committee members began plugging the election numbers into a spreadsheet.
Squinting eyes and pointing fingers were directed at the big screen. Suddenly, cheers filled the halls. Hands flew into the air in triumph as candidates witnessed a 5-4 Town Council victory unfold before them.
Preliminary numbers have been counted. Democrats will continue to serve as the minority party on every town board, but for the next two years, Democrats are in control of the council. DTC chair Bob Berkmoes said it’s been at least eight years since his party reigned on the council, but he said that Southington voters favored them this Election Day.
“We had the most energetic candidates I’ve seen in a while, and I am so proud of the effort and the commitment they put into this campaign,” said Berkmoes.
The preliminary numbers indicate that incumbents Chris Palmieri (D), Dawn Miceli (D), John Barry (D), Michael Riccio (R), Tom Lombardi (R), and Victoria Triano (R) were all re-elected to the council, and they’ll be joined by three newcomers Christopher Poulos (D), Kelly Morrissey (D), and William Dziedzic (R).
Once again, Palmieri led all candidates on the Town Council election.
“We had a phenomenal team running for council,” Palmieri said. “I also want to congratulate [Futtner] who was outstanding and would have been an excellent addition.”
Incumbent Paul Champagne (R) lost his seat. Peter Santago (R) and Carolyn Futtner (D) fell short. Petitioning candidate Jack Perry came closest, falling fewer than 50 votes from gaining a seat in the preliminary count. There is no word on whether a recount will be called for.
While Republicans maintained their majority on the Board of Education, Board of Finance, and Planning and Zoning Commission, Democrats found silver linings in this year’s race.
Newcomer Lisa Cammuso won a seat on the BOE, giving the Democrats one more representative than the previous term. Incumbents Brian Goralski (R), Terri Carmody (R), Colleen Clark (R), Patricia Queen (R) and newcomer Joseph Baczewski (R) will form the majority, while Cammuso joins incumbents Zaya Oshana (D), Bob Brown (D), David Derynoski (D) in the minority.
The 2015 municipal election gave Republicans a supermajority on nearly every board, but the 2017 numbers put Democrats in charge of the council and a 5-4 Republican simple majority on BOE.
Only the BOF will continue to operate with a Republican supermajority. Newcomer Tony Morrison (R) will join incumbents John Leary (R), Edward Pocock Jr. (R), and Joseph Labieniec (R). Democrat incumbent Kevin Beaudoin regained his seat, but newcomer Susan Zoni edged John Moise for the other Democratic seat.
Southington’s PZC members hold four-year terms, so voters only chose four candidates to join those currently in mid-term. Democratic incumbent Susan Locks was re-elected, along with Republican incumbents Michael DelSanto, Paul Chaplinsky Jr., and Robert Hammersley.
All three candidates for the Water Commission, Rudolph Cabata (D), Thomas Murphy (D), and Ralph Warner (R) were elected.
After the numbers came in, Berkmoes thanked DTC officials Jim Sinclair and Ryan Rogers for organizing the successful campaign. Current minority leader Palmieri, who hopes to be appointed majority leader on the council, said he thinks this election sets the town in a new direction.
“We all did a phenomenal job connecting with the voters and hearing the issues that they have concerns about,” Palmieri said. “We’re going to take those issues and move the town in the direction that the voters want.”
Official results are still being tallied and are expected to be verified by the town clerk on Wednesday. Certified results will be posted at www.SouthingtonObserver.com as soon as they are released.