SOUTHINGTON — Republicans are looking to keep their majority on the Town Council, Democrats are hoping to mount a comeback and a political newcomer is working to win over voters as an unaffiliated candidate this November.
Republicans hold six of the nine Town Council seats and have held a majority on the council and other town boards and commissions for the past four elections. Republican Town Chairman Brian Callahan said residents are happy with infrastructure improvements, new schools and “modest” tax increases that have occurred over the past eight years.
“I feel we’ve done a great job,” he said. “We’ve done a lot.”
Robert Berkmoes, Democratic Town Chairman, said a reaction to national politics might help Democrats locally. There are also local issues that need to be addressed.
“We’re concerned about our school system, we’re concerned about public safety, we’re concerned about public transportation in our town,” he said. “Democrats, if you look at the history of Southington, helped build this town. We’re ready to continue our voyage.”
Jack Perry, 27, owner of HQ Dumpsters and Recycling, is running as an unaffiliated candidate for Town Council. He said there’s dissatisfaction with both parties and that he can bridge that divide for the betterment of the town.
“I think there’s a big void between the two parties,” Perry said. “I’ve gotten that from the residents of town, they don’t believe in either one.”
Republican Town Council incumbents Michael Riccio, Paul Champagne, Tom Lombardi and Victoria Triano are running in November. They’re joined by newcomers William Dziedzic and Peter Santago.
Santago, an IT professional, served on the Board of Education in the 1980’s but didn’t pursue politics further at the time due to work obligations. Dziedzic, an attorney with a firm in Farmington, is new to politics but his family is well-known in town, according to Callahan.
Incumbent Town Council Democrats Chris Palmieri, John Barry and Dawn Miceli will be running again. They’re joined by Kelly Morrissey, Chris Poulas and Carolyn Futtner to complete the party’s council slate.
Morrissey is associate director of security and facilities operations at ESPN. Poulas was recognized as Connecticut Teacher of the Year. Futtner is a local attorney with a practice on North Summit Street.
Berkmoes said he’s optimistic about his slate and the party’s chances this year.
“This is us. This is our turn,” he said.
Some of those who have joined the party recently have been motivated by national events.
“It’s amazing the amount of people who have contacted us because of the national election,” Berkmoes said. “(They realize) if they want to get somebody elected, they have to get out there and work and vote for them.”
Due to minority representation rules, a party can only hold up to six seats on the council.
Perry said if elected he hopes to implement a 20 to 30-year plan for the town to better fund major projects. He’s heard complaints from residents about rising taxes.
“They don’t think their dollars are being spent wisely,” he said.
Perry was at odds with the town about a year ago over its bidding procedure. HQ does trash for some town buildings including Town Hall, but Perry said his decision to run doesn’t have anything to do with business interests.
During his disagreement with the town, Perry started attending council meetings and has done so regularly for the past year.
”It enlightened me to a lot of the issues in Southington.” he said.
Perry said if elected he’d be willing to give up his contracts with the town to avoid a potential conflict of interest.
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