Fortuna to Run Unopposed in Fall Election as Parties Announce Slates

OLD SAYBROOK — First Selectman Carl Fortuna will be running for re-election unopposed in November, according to the candidate rosters that Old Saybrook Democrats and Republicans released earlier this week.

John O’Brien, chair of the Old Saybrook Democratic Town Committee, said it was difficult to find someone to challenge Fortuna because of the current first selectman’s record for keeping taxes low in the town. 

“It’s a very difficult preposition … running against someone who has maintained taxes at a pretty level base,” said O’Brien. 

Mark Caldarella, chair of the Republican Town Committee, said Fortuna had brought the town into “strong financial and professional shape.” 

“Obviously, we feel Carl Fortuna has been doing an excellent job for the last couple of terms,” he said. 

Democrat Matthew Pugliese and Republican Scott Giegerich are also running for re-election to the remaining two selectmen slots. They are the only contenders. 

Pugliese said he wanted to focus on supporting businesses as the pandemic continues to impact the area. 

“We have a great opportunity in this next term with the American Rescue Act funds to really make some strategic investments in the way we support our community,” he said. 

The race for seats on the town’s Police Commission comes with a significant turnover of members.

Of the three Republicans with terms expiring in November, only one, Susan Quish, is seeking re-election. Frank Keeney and Kenneth Reid, will be stepping down at the end of their terms in office.

Caldarella said that one of the Republican candidates, Jeff Jordan, was fourth runner-up in the previous elections for the Police Commission. Katie Toolan is a member of the town’s Architectural Review Board. Eric Dussault, who is running for a two-year term, is a manager of Marine Operations at American Cruise Lines.   

Democrats Alfred Wilcox and Renee Root Shippee will both be seeking re-election to the commission. 

“[The Police Commission] seems to be a lightning rod in town,” said O’Brien, adding that they have five “very strong candidates.” They include former town selectwoman Carol Manning, who is running for a two-year term, Jessica Calle and Jill Notar-Francesco, who formerly served on the Southington Board of Education as a Republican. 

O’Brien said the Democrats were also hoping to secure more seats on the Board of Education. The board currently holds a 6-3 Republican majority. Democratic candidates include incumbents Eileen Baker and Karen Brodeur, along with newcomers Patricia O’Brien and Dorothy O’Nell. O’Brien was named Old Saybrook’s Poet Laureate for Life in January 2020. 

Republican candidates are current chair Tara Barros and newcomers Trevor Nichols and Steven Beeler. Nichols is a financial analyst and Beeler is an insurance adjuster. 

Caldarella said they’d received more interested candidates that they had spaces available. 

“We were fortunate to be able to pick from a strong group of individuals,” he said. “We are looking to continue the success of the town on each board and commission.”

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