NEWINGTON - Republicans are enthusiastic about their slate for the November election, with strong ambitions for the town’s future.
The Newington Republican Town Committee recently endorsed Deputy Mayor Beth DelBuono for the mayoral candidacy, after Mayor Roy Zartarian announced he will not run for reelection. She joins Town Council incumbents Tim Manke and Gail Budrejko on the GOP ticket, along with former Councilor Dave Nagel and newcomers John Donahue, president of Newington Community Television; and Michael Camillo, a longtime business owner in town.
Zartarian called DelBuono “an absolutely sterling candidate” when he discussed his departure with the Town Crier a few weeks ago. “She’d make a great mayor,” he added.
RTC Chairman Dominic Pane is looking forward to a good campaign season.
“I am so pleased and excited with our entire slate for the November election,” Pane said this week. “The outpouring of positive support from the public has been overwhelming.”
For the Board of Education, Republicans nominated incumbents Bob Tofeldt, Paul Vessella and Steven Silvia, along with newcomers Beth Manke and Bruce Fletcher. For Fire Commissioner, they’ve endorsed Wally Brideaux and for Constable, Jay Bottalico.
“We’re at a big turning point in town,” DelBuono pointed out. “There have been a lot of questions about protocol and procedure and how we do business. If I can take control of that it would be one of my first priorities.”
She’d like for the council to reexamine the Town Charter and funding for the Town Hall/Community Center Project.
This past winter DelBuono voted against increasing the project’s budget by $2.8 million, surpassing the $28.8 million approved by voters in a 2017 referendum. She and fellow Republicans - currently in the council minority - were defeated. A group of residents are now suing the town over the issue in state Superior Court.
“I’m very much in favor of the project,” DelBuono said, “but my concern lies with if we’re handling it the right way. We’re here to represent the public and listen to residents and I feel like we’ve lost sight of that.”
If elected, she plans to open up the lines of communication around the council table and increase transparency.
“I’d like for us to do more business at the table in front of the people we represent,” DelBuono explained.
Before joining the council she served eight years on the Board of Education. She works as a speech and language pathologist for the Capital Region Education Council.
“In terms of our budget the biggest focus needs to be continuing a good working relationship between the council and Board of Ed,” said DelBuono, who considers herself a fiscal conservative. “A zero percent increase is always my goal, but I’ll never promise something I don’t know I can keep. It might not be realistic. We have to keep services in place, meet the needs of our residents and our students while being as fiscally responsible as we can. We have a lot of double services and by merging those we could really see some savings.”
In terms of capital improvement needs going into the future, DelBuono plans to establish a town committee to prioritize building projects. She’d also like to work on filling vacant properties to raise Newington’s tax base.
“Newington is a great town,” she said. “We need to do a better job of marketing it.”
Erica Drzewiecki can be reached at 860-801-5097 or firstname.lastname@example.org.