NEWINGTON - Republican Mayor Roy Zartarian celebrated a win at the polls this week, beginning his second term with a democrat-led Town Council.
The party took a 5-4 majority of the both council and the Board of Education on Election Day.
Zartarian defeated Democrat Terry Borjeson for the chief spot by more than 570 votes, with 54 percent. He joins fellow GOP incumbents Tim Manke, Gail Budrejko and Beth DelBuono on the council, along with Democratic newcomers Chris Miner and Nicholas Arace, and party incumbents Diana Casasanta Serra, Jim Marocchini and vote leader Carol Anest.
Democrats also carried the school board, with Sharon Braverman, Cindy Stamm, Emily Guion, and Joshua Shulman, along with newcomer Michael Branda all winning seats. GOP winners were Paul Vessella, Danielle Drozd, Robert Tofeldt and Steven Silvia. Republican Jeremy Whetzel was the only candidate who did not collect enough votes to earn a seat. Stamm led the pack, earning 11.6 percent of the vote.
Zartarian said he was both happy and relieved after hearing the results Tuesday night.
“I’m looking forward to the challenges in the future,” the mayor said.
The next year will be a balancing act between the state’s $876,000 cut to Newington and the town’s needs.
“I want to see the grand list expanded and definitely want to see substantial progress on a new Town Hall and community center,” Zartarian said, adding, “It’s definitely going to be a sobering impact. Our revenues are obviously not going to be what they once were and everyone at the table is going to have to accept that reality.”
A mixed bag
Transitioning from a Republican-led body to a mixed bag of leaders, decision-making around the table is expected to develop its own structure.
“We seem to have followed a trend throughout the region of Democrats regaining control,” Zartar-ian said. “We made a deliberate effort during our first term to maintain good relations with the minority party and I hope that feeling continues into the new term.”
Receiving 10.7 percent of the votes - the highest of any councilor - Anest is also committed to a bipartisan effort.
“As long as we keep the lines of communication open I think we’ll be fine,” she said. We’ve had a lot of stability over the last two years. We need to work jointly with the Board of Ed to discuss the town’s goals and how we need to move forward in the next five to ten years. We need to be more transparent to the public and bring that trust back between elected officials.”
Council newcomer Chris Miner said his priorities, in order, are moving the Town Hall renovation along, building a better relationship with the school board and putting bipartisanship over politics.
“I appreciate the support from so many people and look forward to the opportunity to move Newington forward,” Miner added.
Despite not reaching the top spot, Borjeson was glad to have had the opportunity to share his priorities for the town while on the campaign trail.
“I was trying to change the dialogue and move us forward,” he said Tuesday. “We need to address economic development, fund the STEM academies and education, and learn how to treat each other better.”
Erica Schmitt can be reached at 860-801-5097, or firstname.lastname@example.org.