Editor’s Note: In the print version and original on-line version, one name was left off of the list of Republican BOE members that were elected. Colleen Clark, Terri Carmody, Brian Goralski, Patricia Queen, and Joseph Baczewski won seats. Raeshelle Percival did not win.
By SHERIDAN CYR
As the first results were posted on the screen at Friends Cafe in Southington, the room fell into a silence so deep you could almost hear the nail biting. On Tuesday, Nov. 7, feelings were mixed at the GOP gathering as the crowd of candidates, families, and friends at the Southington Republican headquarters watched the votes get tallied.
After a long string of victories, the Republicans lost their 6-3 super majority on the Town Council. Democrats took majority of Town Council, 5-4.
Republicans still hold a majority across most of the town boards—Board of Education, Board of Finance, Planning and Zoning Committee and Water Commission—but their long string of victories on the Town Council came to an end.
Republicans seated include Victoria Triano, Tom Lombardi, Mike Riccio, and William Dziedzic. Unaffiliated candidate Jack Perry did not gain a seat on the council.
“These aren’t the results we were hoping for, that’s for sure,” said Southington Republican Town Committee chair Brian Callahan. “I’m shocked that we lost the Town Council majority, but it looks like we kept a majority on the other boards.”
After unofficial results were presented on the screen at Friends Cafe, about 350 absentee ballots were still being counted in the Town Clerk’s office, according to Callahan.
Callahan noted that this was a difficult election with a lot of negativity, but he felt confident that the Republicans “covered all the bases” as far as campaigning and preparing.
Mike Riccio spoke to the room after the preliminary numbers came back.
“I want to say thank you to all of our candidates we ran with, and a special thank you to Peter Santago and Paul Champagne,” said Riccio.
The two Republicans did not make the cut for the Town Council. Champagne narrowly missed the cut in the 2015 municipal elections, but the incumbent didn’t finish in the top nine in 2017. Santago was new to the GOP slate.
“We had an incredible eight years running the town,” said Riccio. “We got a lot accomplished, and it’s unfortunate that the taxpayers didn’t see that.”
The former council chair added that he and the other Republicans will continue to fight for what they believe in, and that they “look forward to working with the Democrats to continue the forward momentum here in Southington.”
After his first campaign Perry remained positive about his run as an unaffiliated candidate, and he said that he believes he still made a difference in the way Southington elections will go in the future.
“There has never been another independent candidate with so many votes. It shows that Southington people are tired of the two-party system,” said Perry. “I came very close—just down by 63 votes in the unofficial results—which just goes to show that every vote counts.”
Perry insisted that he isn’t going anywhere. “I’ll still be at every Town Council meeting,” he said.
On the Board of Finance, Republicans Edward Pocock Jr., Tony Morrison, Joseph Labieniec and John Leary won. All Republican candidates won a seat.
On the Board of Education, Republicans Colleen Clark, Terri Carmody, Brian Goralski, Patricia Queen, and Joseph Baczewski won seats. Raeshelle Percival did not win.
On the Planning and Zoning Committee, Republicans Robert Hammersley, Paul Chaplinski Jr., and Michael DelSanto won. All Republican candidates won a seat.
On Water Commission, all three candidates—Ralph Warner (R), Thomas Murphy (D) and Rudolph Cabata (D) earned a seat.
The Republicans lost a majority in Town Council, but hold majority across Board of Education, Board of Finance, Planning and Zoning Committee and Water Commission, although their super majority (6-3) on the BOE was pared to a simple majority (5-4).
The results are unofficial until certified by the town clerk. Official results are expected by Wednesday. It is unclear whether there will be any recounts at this time.
Official results will be posted at www.SouthingtonObserver.com as soon as they are announced.
To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Sheridan Cyr, email her at SCyr@SouthingtonObserver.com.