Esposito Runs on Experience, Promises a ‘Hands-On’ Approach as Danbury Mayor

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Republican Dean Esposito is running for Mayor of Danbury, a seat left open for the first time in decades with the retirement of Mark Boughton, after he served ten consecutive terms. In 2019, Boughton won re-election with 8,598 votes to his Democratic opponent’s 7,372.  Esposito serves as chief of staff to the Mayor of Danbury, and previously served five terms as a Danbury City Councilman. He will face off against Democrat Roberto Alves, a technical sales engineer and Danbury City Councilman. The Connecticut Examiner spoke with Esposito about his campaign and policy priorities if elected. This interview has been edited

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New Haven Alder Darryl Brackeen Makes His Case for Secretary of the State

In June, Connecticut Secretary of the State Denise Merrill announced that she would not be running for election, opening the door for a slew of candidates to express interest in the position.  One of those candidates is New Haven Alder Darryl Brackeen Jr. Three other Democratic candidates, State Sen. Matt Lesser of Middletown, State Rep. Hilda Santiago of Meriden, and State Rep. Josh Elliott of Hamden, have also formed exploratory committees.  A Republican has not served as Secretary of the State since 1995, but two GOP candidates have thrown their hats in the ring: Dominic Rapini, a senior account manager

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Democrat Josh Elliott Makes a Case for Secretary of the State

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In June, Connecticut Secretary of the State Denise Merrill announced that she would not be running for election, opening the door for a slew of candidates to express interest in the position.  One of those candidates is Democratic State Rep. Josh Elliott of Hamden. Three other Democratic candidates, State Sen. Matt Lesser of Middletown, State Rep. Hilda Santiago of Meriden, and New Haven Alder Darryl Brackeen Jr., have also formed exploratory committees.  A Republican has not served as Secretary of the State since 1995, but two GOP candidates have thrown their hats in the ring: Brock Weber, an aide to

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Internal Report Warns of Staffing Shortfalls at Department of Correction

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Connecticut correctional facilities have 406 staffing vacancies — meaning the state Department of Correction only has 89 percent of the “bodies needed” to run the state’s prison systems — according to an internal Department of Correction report shared with CT Examiner.  Across Connecticut, there are currently 406 staffing vacancies, with nearly 400 correctional workers becoming eligible for retirement in 2022, a looming retirement cliff that officers warn could bring the prison system to a breaking point.   “This is a crisis waiting to happen,” said Mike Vargo, president of AFSCME Local 1565, a union representing correctional staff across the state. “Shortages

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Nonprofit Hopes to Raise $30,000 for Racial Justice Murals in 4 Towns

The towns of Old Lyme, East Lyme, New London and Norwich will soon be home to four murals highlighting diverse stories from each community’s history.  Public Art for Racial Justice Education, an all-volunteer organization in southeastern Connecticut aiming to combat racial inequity through community art programming, is planning the “Sister Murals” to tell previously overlooked stories from the four cities.  In Norwich, for example, the mural will feature David Ruggles, an abolitionist born in Norwich who helped hundreds of people, including Frederick Douglass, escape slavery via the Underground Railroad. Old Lyme’s mural, which will be painted in Old Lyme Middle

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Dominic Rapini Takes up Voter Trust as an Issue in his Bid for Secretary of the State

In June, Connecticut Secretary of the State Denise Merrill announced that she would not be running for election, opening the door for a slew of candidates to express interest in the position. A Republican has not served as Secretary of the State since 1995, but two GOP candidates hope to change that next fall. The two declared Republican candidates are Brock Weber, an aide to Mayor Erin Stewart of New Britain, and Dominic Rapini, a senior account manager at Apple.  Four Democratic candidates, State Rep. Josh Elliott of Hamden, State Sen. Matt Lesser of Middletown, Rep. Hilda Santiago of Meriden,

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State Rep. Hilda Santiago Discusses a Possible Bid for Secretary of the State

In June, Connecticut Secretary of the State Denise Merrill, a Democrat, announced that she would not be running for re-election, opening the door for a slew of candidates to express interest in the position. One of those is Democratic State Rep. Hilda Santiago, who announced the formation of an exploratory committee in late August. Santiago has represented Meriden in the General Assembly since 2012.  Three other possible Democratic candidates, State Sen. Matt Lesser of Middletown, Rep. Josh Elliott of Hamden, and New Haven Alderman Darryl Brackeen Jr., have also formed exploratory committees. A Republican has not served as Secretary of

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After Decades Under GOP, Democrat Roberto Alves Calls Danbury ‘Stagnant,’ in Run for Mayor

Democrat Roberto Alves is running for Mayor of Danbury, a seat left open for the first time in decades with the retirement of Republican Mark Boughton, who served ten consecutive terms. In 2019, Boughton won reelection with 8,598 votes to his Democratic opponent’s 7,372. Alves, a technical sales engineer and Danbury City Councilman, will face off against Republican Dean Esposito, who serves as chief of staff to the Mayor of Danbury.  The Connecticut Examiner spoke with Alves about his campaign and policy priorities if elected. This interview has been edited for clarity. What inspired you to run for mayor of

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Sean Donlan Talks Pro-Active Leadership in His Run for Haddam First Selectman

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Democrat Sean Donlan is challenging incumbent Republican Robert McGarry in the race for Haddam First Selectman. McGarry was first elected in 2019, with 62 percent of the vote. In the 2020 elections, the town voted for Democrats Joe Biden and Joe Courtney at the national level, and Republicans Brendan Saunders and Robert Siegrist for the state legislature.  The Connecticut Examiner spoke with Donlan about his priorities if elected. This interview has been edited for clarity. Why did you decide to run for Haddam First Selectman?  I’m very passionate about Haddam. My kids are who they are because they grew up

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State Official Suggests Slower Rollout for Marijuana, as Businesses Turn Out for Talk

Michelle Seagull, the state’s commissioner for the Department of Consumer Protection, told the assembled audience at a business breakfast hosted by the Chamber of Commerce of Eastern Connecticut that the state still has many details to iron out before opening up applications for marijuana licenses.  In comments to CT Examiner, Seagull suggested that a timeline originally anticipated by legislators for sales to begin next summer would likely be delayed until the end of next year.   “We’ve been suggesting that there will likely be sales by the end of 2022, and we’re still aspiring for that,” Seagull told CT Examiner. “Obviously,

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Robert McGarry Makes His Case for Reelection as Haddam First Selectman

Robert McGarry, the Republican First Selectman of Haddam, is running for reelection, and facing a challenge from Democrat Sean Donlan. McGarry was first elected in 2019, with 62 percent of the vote. In the 2020 elections, the town voted for Democrats Joe Biden and Joe Courtney at the national level, and Republicans Brendan Saunders and Robert Siegrist for the state legislature.  The Connecticut Examiner spoke with McGarry about his priorities for another term.  This interview has been edited for clarity. Why are you running for reelection?  There are still things I’d like to get done. First Selectman in Haddam is

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Democratic Chair Nancy DiNardo on the Fall Elections, the Public Option and Trump

Nancy DiNardo, a former teacher and administrator in Bridgeport, serves as chair of the Connecticut Democratic Party. DiNardo previously served as chair of the Democratic National Committee’s Eastern Regional Caucus.  The Connecticut Examiner spoke with DiNardo about her hopes for this fall’s elections.  This interview has been edited for clarity. How do you see your role as chair of the Connecticut Democratic Party?  My role is to provide campaign leadership to our elected officials, candidates, and town committees, and my job is to help candidates at all levels frame and deliver a message that will get voters to come out

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Dan Reale Talks Growth, ‘Unmask Our Kids,’ and the Libertarian Party of Connecticut

Dan Reale serves as chairman of the Libertarian Party of Connecticut, a statewide third party that seeks to elect candidates to local, state, and national office.  The Connecticut Examiner spoke with Reale about the identity of the Libertarian Party, and how he sees the party’s prospects for this fall’s municipal elections.  This interview has been edited for clarity. How do you see your role as chair of the Libertarian Party of Connecticut?  The main responsibility I have as chair of the party is obviously growing the party, which has been accomplished despite COVID. As a matter of fact, if anything,

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Hall Talks Taxes, Safety and Development in Run for Westbrook First Selectman

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Republican John Hall is running for First Selectman of Westbrook, a seat left vacant by the retirement of longtime Republican First Selectman Noel Bishop. Hall, who has served on the Board of Selectmen for 10 years, is running against Democrat Chet Bialicki, Westbrook High School’s teen leadership coordinator.  Why did you decide to run for Westbrook First Selectman?  I’ve been involved in Westbrook politics for most of my adult life. I was on the Zoning Board of Appeals for 27 years, and have spent the last 12 years on the Board of Selectmen. I knew I’d live my life in

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Chet Bialicki Makes His Case for Westbrook First Selectman

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Democrat Chet Bialicki is running for First Selectman of Westbrook, a seat left vacant by the retirement of longtime Republican First Selectman Noel Bishop. Bialicki, Westbrook High School’s teen leadership coordinator, is running against Republican nominee John Hall, who has served on the Board of Selectmen for 10 years.  Why did you decide to run for Westbrook First Selectman?  I’ve been a teacher in Westbrook for 44 years, and I have a passion for the town. I always have. My involvement in education has always been more than just work within the walls of the school itself. I write grants

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State Officials Debate Limits on Equity Licensing for Legal Marijuana

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When Connecticut legislators agreed this spring to legalize recreational marijuana, a number of lawmakers did so with the proviso that the change would also foster an equitable, diverse market, with meaningful benefits for people from communities disproportionately harmed by the criminalization of marijuana.  “There won’t be a cannabis bill in this state until we get equity right,” said State Sen. Gary Winfield, D-New Haven, at a press conference before the passage of the law.   Translating those goals into policy is the work of a 15-member social equity council appointed by Gov. Ned Lamont and state lawmakers to iron out the

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Mary Bylone Makes Her Case for a Second Term as Colchester First Selectman

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First Selectman Mary Bylone is running for a second term in office, facing off against Republican challenger Andreas Bisbikos, a member of the Colchester Board of Finance and high school social studies teacher. Bylone unseated two-term Republican First Selectman Art Shilosky in 2019, winning with 54 percent of the vote.  The Connecticut Examiner spoke with Bylone about her goals for a second term, and what she’s proudest of from her tenure so far.  This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.   Your opponent has said that Town Hall has been “toxic,” and described you as a “bully.” I’d like

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Long Aligned With the GOP, Connecticut’s Independent Party Tacks Left

Long perceived as simply a second ballot line for the Republican Party, Connecticut’s Independent Party has begun to shift its endorsements to include more Democrats and candidates not supported by either major party, a Connecticut Examiner analysis of state election data finds.  In state legislative elections in 2014, 2016, and 2018, the Independent Party cross-endorsed a total of just nine Democrats, while in 2020, they cross-endorsed 18. It’s still a far cry from 2020’s 87 Republican cross-endorsements, but is a demonstration of a trend noticed by party observers.  Carlos Moreno, state director of the Connecticut Working Families Party, said he’s

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Farmington Canal Trail Project Linking Temple St. and Long Wharf Kicks Off

After nearly ten years, the fourth phase of the Farmington Canal Greenway project has finally begun. When completed, the trail will connect New Haven all the way up to Massachusetts.  “This is a big moment for anyone who cares about having a robust bicycle pedestrian network in New Haven, and a big moment for anyone invested in making New Haven a vibrant place to live,” said Aaron Goode of New Haven Friends of the Farmington Canal Greenway. The trail currently ends at Temple Street. Phase four will extend the bicycle and pedestrian trail to Long Wharf.  Vincent Federico, vice president of

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Calling Town Hall ‘Toxic,’ Andreas Bisbikos Makes a Case for Colchester First Selectman

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Andreas Bisbikos, a member of the Colchester Board of Finance Member and high school social studies teacher, is the Republican candidate for First Selectman of Colchester. He is challenging incumbent Mary Bylone, who unseated two-term Republican First Selectman Art Shilosky in 2019, winning with 54 percent of the vote.  The Connecticut Examiner spoke with Bisbikos about what motivates his run, and what differentiates him from his opponent.  This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.   What inspired you to run for Colchester First Selectman?  This is an opportunity to give back to the town that has provided my family

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Carlos Moreno Talks Working Families Party, Danbury and New Britain Races

Carlos Moreno serves as Connecticut State Director of the Working Families Party, a statewide third party that advocates for organized labor, racial justice, and pushing the Democrats to the left “as much as possible.”  The Connecticut Examiner spoke with Moreno about the party’s priorities for elections this fall,  How do you see your role as state director for the Connecticut Working Families Party?  As state director, my role is to steer the organization’s platform, administrate and manage the endorsement process, embrace issues of the day, and continue to move forward in terms of different ways to expand unions and support

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Connecticut’s Green Party Talks Values, Fall Elections

Dustin Fiore, Peter Goselin and Cassandra Martineau serve as co-chairs of Connecticut’s Green Party, a statewide third party that seeks to elect candidates supporting “grassroots democracy, social justice, non-violence and ecological wisdom” to local, state, and national office.  The Connecticut Examiner spoke with Fiore and Goselin about the identity of the Green Party, and how they see the party’s prospects for this fall’s elections. Martineau, who is running for Congress in Connecticut’s second district, was unavailable to be interviewed for this story. This interview has been edited for clarity. How do you think about the role of chair of the

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Mayors Debate a Legal Obligation to Allow at Least Limited Public Use of Marijuana

Legislation that legalized recreational marijuana in Connecticut beginning July 1, also includes a provision that any city or town with a population of more than 50,000 must “designate a place in the municipality in which public consumption of cannabis is permitted.”  19 municipalities across Connecticut fit that requirement, and leaders of all of those cities and towns are currently navigating how best to implement the law at the local level. For Mayor Ellen Zoppo-Sassu of Bristol, the question is not necessarily designating a specific area for smoking, but rather, figuring out whether Bristol will place any limits on the public

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Mike Telesca Explains the Independent Party’s Role in the Coming Elections

Mike Telesca serves as chairman of the Independent Party of Connecticut, a statewide third party that seeks to elect independent candidates to local, state, and national office.  The Connecticut Examiner spoke with Telesca about the identity of the Independent Party, and how he sees the party’s prospects for this fall’s municipal elections.  This interview has been edited for clarity. How do you see your role as chair of the Independent Party of Connecticut?  My role is to facilitate the growth of the party, and that’s what I try to do. I try to find people who are politically active in

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GOP Chair Ben Proto on the Fall Elections, and the Future of the Party in Connecticut

Ben Proto, a Stratford-based attorney, was elected in June to chair the Connecticut Republican Party. Proto led Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign in Connecticut, worked on Steve Obsitnik’s campaign for governor in 2018, and served as state coordinator for the 2000 presidential run of John McCain. The Connecticut Examiner caught up with Proto after his first few months on the job for an interview about how he sees the party’s prospects for this fall’s municipal elections.  This interview has been edited for clarity. How do you see your role as chair of the Connecticut Republican Party?  I look at the state

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Peter Nystrom Talks Fiscal Responsibility, a Third Term as Norwich Mayor

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Republican Mayor Peter Nystrom is running for reelection this fall, seeking a third term in the office. The Republican incumbent is facing off against Democrat Mark Bettencourt, who serves as Norwich City Council President Pro Tempore and lost to Nystrom in the 2009 Norwich mayoral race.  In 2017, Nystrom was elected with 57 percent of the vote.   The Connecticut Examiner spoke with Nystrom about why he’s seeking a third term, and what he’s proudest of during his tenure as mayor.  This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.  What led you to run for a third term as mayor

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Joel and Lani Gargano Plan Expansion into Old Saybrook, Table22 Partnership

Joel and Lani Gargano, co-owners of Chester’s Grano Arso, are opening a new Italian marketplace and cafe in Old Saybrook early next year.  Located at 75 Main Street, Gargano Pasta & Italian Market will offer pastries, coffee, cured meats, cheeses, wine, beer, and fresh pasta, along with imported specialty products.  Visitors will be able to watch chefs make pasta from scratch and the restaurant will serve dishes like cacio e pepe, spaghetti pomodoro and bucatini all amatriciana.  “We wanted something that was just a cut above the rest,” Chef Joel Gargano said. “We want guests to be able to purchase

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Mark Bettencourt Makes His Case for Norwich Mayor

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Norwich City Council President Pro Tempore Mark Bettencourt is running against incumbent Mayor Peter Nystrom, who is seeking a third term. In 2017, Nystrom was elected with 57 percent of the vote. Bettencourt, who lost to Nystrom in the 2009 Norwich mayoral race, has served on the City Council for a collective ten years.  The Connecticut Examiner spoke with Bettencourt about what inspired his run, and what policies he would prioritize if elected.  This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.  What inspired you to run for Mayor of Norwich?  I lost election to the City Council six years

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Census Data Show Increased Diversity, Little Growth Outside Fairfield County

According to Census data released Thursday, Connecticut’s modest population growth in the past decade has almost exclusively been driven by Fairfield County. New London County’s population dropped by two percent, and despite booming manufacturing, some of the most dramatic population decreases came in Groton.  Connecticut’s population has increased by 31,847 since 2010, or 0.9 percent, primarily in Fairfield County, which saw a 4.4 percent increase in population. The remaining counties either saw population growth of less than one percent or a population decrease.   Census data also shed light on changing racial demographics, and the United States saw a decrease in

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Lawmakers Unanimously Approve Community Block Grant Plan

In a joint public hearing followed by Appropriations, Commerce and Housing committee meetings, Connecticut legislators voted unanimously to approve the Small Cities Community Development Block Grant Allocation Plan on Wednesday, paving the way for cities and towns across the state with populations of less than 50,000 to access funding for local projects.  Funded through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the program provides grants to benefit low and middle income residents, decrease blight, or address a specific, urgent crisis. Small communities across the state receive more than $13 million annually through the grants.  Miguel Rivera, Housing & Community

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