Mix of Incumbents, Newcomers Look to Hold Republican Majority
NEWINGTON - The Roy Zartarian led Republican Town Committee nominated slate was made official last Thursday night, sending a mix of incumbents and newcomers on both the Town Council and Board of Education side into the November elections.

       Council incumbents Zartarian, Beth DelBuono, Dave Nagel, Gail Budrejko, and Tim Manke are joined by current Town Planning and Zoning commissioner Mike Camillo, while Danielle Drozd and Jeremy Whetzel will run with Steve Silvia, Robert Tofeldt Jr., and Paul Vessella for Board.

       “We have a balanced team that has an excellent track record of working together, along with some new faces that will bring their perspective,” wrote RTC Chair Dominic Pane in a press release.

       When Zartarian announced several months ago that he would be seeking a second mayoral term, he highlighted the completion of the Town Hall renovation project as one of his core objectives. That priority was restated after the Republican caucus.

       “We are optimistic about the new town hall/community center, which will be brought to referendum in November,” Zartarian said in the press release. “Newington has forward momentum, and this slate will continue to keep it going.”

       The project-currently priced at $28.8 million-saw widespread support at a recent Council meeting due mainly to the inclusion of a double gymnasium in the enlarged Mortensen Community Center. The price tag remained an issue-councilors had hoped to do the work for no more than $25 million-but the project team managed to reduce it from a $29 million estimate by moving a parking lot expansion to the CIP and eliminating cost duplication on insurance.

       Months ago, Zartarian also expressed a desire to keep budgets lean-something the Majority managed to do over the past two years, but not without some controversy, which has taken shape mostly on the school spending side of the discussion. The Republican Council Majority-citing a stagnant Grand List and uncertainty regarding the level of state aid towns will receive-voted to approve a 0.3 percent Board appropriation increase this year, as Board members and residents protested the move.

       Two years ago the Board got a 1.2 percent increase, but only with the inclusion of its own $515,000, which was retained in a non-lapsing surplus account established during negotiations that followed a proposed flat funding.

       To that note, Zartarian had expressed a desire to build better communication between the two bodies-something the Board and Council attempted through a joint meeting held during the fall preceding this year’s budget cycle.

       In last week’s statement, Zartarian reiterated his commitment to that process, and Silvia echoed the sentiment.

       “I intend to work towards greater collaboration with the Town Council as well as finding opportunities to consolidate functions and focus the BOE on education,” Silvia said.