After Democratic Victory, Opposing Parties Discuss Future
WETHERSFIELD - Wethersfield Democrats held both the Town Council and Board of Education Tuesday night, taking a commanding 6-3 supermajority in their first election in 12 years without current Mayor Paul Montinieri on the ticket.

       They were also missing Deputy Mayor Steve Barry, who opted not to seek reelection as well. With that in mind, Gallivan had admitted during the weeks prior, that it was a tough one to call.

       “I’m always surprised when things work out exactly the way you want it to,” Gallivan said. “We won all 10 [seats]. I couldn’t be happier.”

       Rising to the top of all vote getters was Amy Bello, a first term incumbent and former Town Clerk. Joining her will be sitting Councilors Tony Martino and Anthony Spinella, former Board member Matt Forrest, and newcomers Ken Lesser and Mary Bretton.

       “I was ecstatic that we won 6-3,” Bello said from the Wood ‘N Tap eatery, where candidates and their supporters were celebrating the results. “It’s wonderful for our party and wonderful for our town.”

       And as for her own totals-a ballot topping 2,924-Bello admits it was a total shock.

       “I was really surprised,” she said. “It wasn’t a scenario I was playing in my mind. I was just working hard to get reelected.”

       The only one who seemed to expect the outcome was Martino. During the Democratic caucus this past summer, he went public with a 6-3 promise.

       “I predicted it. I’m glad it turned out that way,” Martino said Tuesday night.

       He quickly turned to the issues, pointing to his party’s track record on economic development-over 90 new businesses brought to town over the past four years. In the interest of curbing tax increases under unprecedented fiscal strain trickling down from the state level, growing a town’s Grand List has never been more important, he said.

       “That’s still my number one priority, because the more we increase our commercial tax base, the less we rely on our residents,” Martino said.

       Returning to the Council on the Republican side will be Mike Hurley, Jodi Latina, and Mike Rell.

       “I thought we did what we had to do,” Hurley said Wednesday. “I thought we had the better team.”

       When reached Wednesday morning, Republican Town Committee Chair Rich Roberts stated that the 6-3 tally doesn’t tell the whole story. He pointed, for instance, to the 23 vote margin between Lesser and Republican newcomer Tom Mazzarella-a differential that may or may not trigger a recount.

       “Overall, I’m hopeful we can maintain that 5-4, but if we don’t, I think we have a good group that wants what’s best for Wethersfield, so we will work together like we always do,” Latina said Wednesday morning.

       She too, expressed that the 6-3 margin should not be confused for a mandate, given what she feels was the impact of third party candidates Paul Copp and John Console, who, collectively, split less than a thousand votes.

       “I think it’s unfortunate that they have, once again, thwarted the efforts of the Republicans,” she said.

       Roberts thinks that there were a lot of factors, including the fact that Democratic voters outnumber Republicans in Wethersfield, that affected the outcome, but he says that Console’s third party run was certainly among them.

       “I’m not trying to make excuses, but the two of them got almost a thousand votes between them,” he said. “If all we needed was 150 votes to have the majority, it could have made a difference.”

       Hurley had similar thoughts.

       “We already knew that [would be the case] going in, so we just had to work harder,” he said.

       Republican candidate Stathis Manousos, who fell short in his bid to reclaim the Council seat he lost during the last election, said that third party candidates in town have a history of taking votes that might have otherwise gone to the GOP.

       Console, a former Republican deputy mayor, ran as a petitioning candidate in 2013 when he was not re-nominated by his party, and made a failed attempt to join Copp’s Independence Party two years ago.

       “I think it started out with good intentions, trying to bring new ideas,” Manousos said. “Now they’ve become counterproductive to the objective of trying to bring new leadership to Wethersfield.”

       When reached Wednesday, Console disagreed with the assessment, stating that his appeal was across party lines.

       “A lot of those voters were Democrats,” Console said. “I have a lot of family members in town who are Democrats. People are tired of both parties in general.”

       And he says he doesn’t intend to stop running one way or another.

       “As long as I live in Wethersfield, I am going to run every two years,” Console said.

       As for the future, he, Roberts, and Latina, have expressed a desire to find a way to meet in between.

       “We need, as a party, to build a bridge with them so we’re not in this position two years from now,” Latina said.

       “I would have gladly been a Republican again,” said Console, who expressed this past spring that he had hoped to run with the GOP. “I would be willing to sit down with them tomorrow.”

      
STORY BY MARK DIPAOLA   |  Nov 10 2017  |  COMMENTS?