Election: Local parties gearing up for November



Even though Election Day is months away, political parties are scoping out the scene and preparing slates of candidates with members they feel will support and represent their parties best.

According to the secretary of the state’s 2019 election calendar, political parties must endorse their candidates during the week of July 16-23. Petition forms for persons desiring to oppose party-endorsed candidates for municipal office must be available from the registrar of voters the day following the endorsements.

July 24 is the last day for certification by major political parties to the town clerk, at which time the town clerk will publish notice of certification and a list of candidates on file.

Four boards will be on the ballot in November: town council (nine seats, currently Democratic majority), board of finance (six seats, currently Republican majority), board of education (nine seats, currently Republican majority) and planning and zoning commission (seven seats, currently Republican majority).

All boards are two-year terms except for the PZC. The PZC has four-year, staggered terms. In 2019, three PZC seats will be up for election.

“I am feeling really good about the election in November,” said Southington Republican Town Committee chair Steve Kalkowski. “We are still in the process of filling out our slate, but the candidates that have committed already have great experience and are well known as effective leaders.”

In the 2017 municipal election, the Democrats took majority of the town council. Kalkowski said candidates will hold true to their principals in order to regain majority.

“Believe me when I tell you that we will stay true to our Republican principals,” he said, citing small government, economic development, support for teachers and minimization of tax burdens to senior citizens. “I believe that we have a very strong slate of candidates across the board who work hard every day to make things the best that they can be for all citizens of Southington.”

The Southington Democratic Town Committee is prepping its slate of candidates as well.

“We just began to sit down and discuss our strategies, but the key is to get strong leadership that listens, and is able to communicate well and make sound decisions,” said SDTC chair Bob Berkmoes. “In this term, the council leadership has done some pretty amazing things. We hope to continue that. We’re going to.”

Berkmoes said the 2017 election year went well, and in 2019, the committee will build on that. Berkmoes hopes to take majority on other town boards.

“We understand the needs of the town, what people are looking for, and what we need to do to make this community grow in a logical way,” he said. “I feel we’re the team to do that.”

In early 2018, the SRTC made headlines when a handful of members resigned from the committee. Several of those who resigned had just been elected or reelected to serve on town boards in the November 2017 election. Without membership to the SRTC, they may not be endorsed by the committee. The committee prefers candidates to be SRTC members or associates but does not require it.

“I have personally spoken to every person who left the SRTC back in January 2018 and, in fact, several of those people have come back as SRTC members,” said Kalkowski. “Some of those who I spoke to have decided they are not interested in running again, and you may see others that might just appear in our slate.”

Kalkowski said he has welcomed back those members, and the committee has moved forward from and learned from the event. He declined to comment which members returned to the board, stating, “Let’s not focus on individuals. Let’s focus on the progress of coming back together.”

To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Sheridan Roy, email her at SRoy@SouthingtonObserver.com.

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