NEWINGTON - Listening to taxpayers and protecting their interests is what Beth DelBuono had in mind when she stepped onto the campaign trail earlier this year.
The Republican candidate for mayor still holds this priority closest, as Election Day draws near.
Her conservative approach aligns with the Newington Republican Town Committee, which endorsed her and fellow Council incumbents Tim Manke and Gail Budrejko, along with former Councilor Dave Nagel and newcomers John Donahue, president of Newington Community Television; and Michael Camillo, a longtime business owner in town.
Current Mayor Roy Zartarian, departing the post to address health issues that took a back seat the last four years, called DelBuono “an absolutely sterling candidate” for mayor.
She’s served on the council for four terms, at different times as Deputy Mayor, Majority and Minority Leader. Prior to that she served on the Board of Education for a total of eight years, as Vice Chairperson for some of that time.
“I think my record speaks for itself,” DelBuono said. “I have a concrete and good understanding of how business on both the town and schools’ side and I think my experience would make me the better candidate.”
The GOP fell into minority on the council in 2017. Reestablishing a majority would be a step toward lowering the tax burden inflicted through recent budgets, according to DelBuono.
“When we had majority from 2015 to 2017 the increase was 1.9 percent; in the Democratic majority the increase has been nearly seven percent,” she explained. “In general, the way we approach spending and do business in town we are much more fiscally responsible.”
The Town Hall/Community Center Project is an example of how the parties differ on their financial approaches.
Over the winter DelBuono opposed a $2.8 million increase to the project’s budget, which moved forward despite GOP concerns. A group of residents are now suing the town over the issue and a resolution is expected soon.
“Right now the project scope has moved ahead to a point where it’s difficult to turn back or change significantly, but a big priority of mine is being back under the $28.8 million approved by referendum in 2017,” DelBuono said. “The people voted for that and it needs to be a priority.”
Most of the concerns she’s received while campaigning have been related to spending, taxes and this project.
If elected mayor, she plans to increase transparency between councilors and the citizens who elected them. Too much business takes place behind closed doors, according to DelBuono.
The Newington native works as a speech and language pathologist for the Capital Region Education Council. She and her husband, a veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces, have two children.
Another issue that divided councilors this last term is an approach to economic development. DelBuono and fellow Republicans generally favor working with the town’s largely developed property base while Democrats tend to favor building new.
“We’re very mindful and responsible about how we approach infrastructure,” DelBuono said. “I feel pretty strongly that we need a full-time economic development director who can address our needs, be more in touch with the Newington Chamber of Commerce and existing businesses while actively working to bring in new businesses and new opportunities to town,” she added. “We need someone to do that in a full-time manner and market Newington as the great place it is for business.”
Erica Drzewiecki can be reached at 860-801-5097 or email@example.com.