Groton Democrats Reverse Course, Unanimously Endorse Bordelon for Town Council


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GROTON — In a notable reversal, the Groton Democratic Town Committee endorsed – unanimously –  incumbent Portia Bordelon as a candidate for town council Thursday night after dropping her from the slate in 2021. 

Bordelon, a Democrat, petitioned for and secured a slot on the 2021 primary ballot and went on to win as the top vote-getter in the primary, pushing former Town Councilor Conrad Heede, who was chair of the Democratic Town Committee, off the ticket. In Sept. 2019 she was appointed to fill David Atwater’s council seat and earned the second-highest number of votes in the election two months later. 

“It is an honor and a privilege to receive the nomination to run for a third term on the Town Council and a fourth term as an elected representative since starting on the Representative Town Meeting in 2017. I feel validated and encouraged by the Groton Democratic Town Committee’s unanimous vote for the Town Council slate,” Bordelon told CT Examiner in a text on Friday. 

Bordelon has been known for a “loud and aggressive” style during town council meetings, including her numerous point of order calls. She made waves in 2021 when, after learning of developer Jeffrey Respler’s criminal record, she withdrew her support for the council’s unanimous decision in 2020 to engage Respler Homes LLC to redevelop the vacant Mystic Education Center property, known as Mystic Oral School. The town’s agreement became a significant issue among voters in the 2021 election even though candidates were given legal advice not to speak about it.  

In her text, Bordelon wrote, “Despite the committee having diverged from our common cause and shared purpose in the previous election cycle, I appreciate the efforts our current leaders have made thus far to mend fences, heal divides and operate this year’s caucus with a conciliatory intent.”

Bordelon said that while she felt the work is far from complete, the endorsement by the committee is “a  strong step forward and a public declaration that the Democratic party in Groton has the potential to mature in a genuinely positive fashion. I anticipate that we will all strive to communicate in a more constructive and collaborative manner. Rather than being distracted by what divides us, I look forward to focusing on developing strong policies and procedures for the betterment of Groton.”

In a phone call on Friday with Natalie Burfoot Billing, chair of the Groton Democratic Town Committee, CT Examiner asked why the party decided to endorse Bordelon this year. 

“Like all the other candidates on the slate, Portia works hard and is dedicated, has supporters, and the town committee unanimously felt that it was a good thing to recommend candidates who represent the many diverse opinions in our community. They’re all Democrats. They’re all staunch supporters of openness and inclusiveness and embracing different points of view,” Billing said. 

When CT Examiner asked what had changed from 2021 to 2023 concerning the committee’s view of Bordelon, Billings answered, “I think I’m just gonna stick with the statement that I just made. We’re committed to running a full slate and giving voters maximum choice [of a full slate].” 

Later in the call, Billing circled back to CT Examiner’s inquiry.

“Back to your question about Portia Bordelon, the other thing I’m comfortable saying on record is the town committee was interested in unifying, coming together and not having the kind of internal conflict that was part of the campaign two years ago,” she said. 

For town council, the Democratic committee also endorsed incumbents Rachael Franco, Juliette Parker, Bruce Jones and David McBride. New on the Democratic slate for town council are Jill Rusk, Adam Puccino Sr., Roscoe Merritt and Dan Gaiewski, who is vice chair of the committee.