Rob Simmelkjaer Makes His Case For Secretary of the State

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With Secretary of the State Denise Merrill’s announcement that she will not be running for reelection next November, a slew of candidates have expressed interest in the seat.   One of those is Rob Simmelkjaer, chairman of the Connecticut Lottery’s Board of Directors and a former sports media executive. Five other Democratic candidates, State Sen. Matt Lesser of Middletown, State Rep. Josh Elliott of Hamden, State Rep. Hilda Santiago of Meriden, Maritza Bond, the director of public health for the city of New Haven, and New Haven Alder Darryl Brackeen Jr., have also formed exploratory committees. State Rep. Stephanie Thomas, D-Norwalk, formally

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Voting Among Conn College Students Surged in the 2020 Elections

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According to a new study from the Institute for Democracy & Higher Education at Tufts University, 77 percent of eligible Connecticut College students voted in the 2020 elections, a 17 percent increase from 2016 and a rate far exceeding national voter participation rates for students or the general population.  The report found that Connecticut College students voted at a rate 11 percent higher than American college students overall, 66 percent of whom turned out in 2020, a rate practically matching the 67 percent voter participation rate of the eligible public. That rate still far exceeded the study’s findings from the

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Takeaways from Tuesday’s Election

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Reflecting on the results of Tuesday’s municipal elections, political leaders, operatives and observers around Connecticut reported better-than-expected results for Republicans, with bright spots for Democrats in the high-profile Guilford Board of Education race and other pockets of the state.  Republican Minority Leader Vincent Candelora, whose district includes North Branford and Guilford, said Republicans’ election performance should be a wake-up call for Democrats looking forward to next fall’s races.  “Municipalities have more money than they know what to do with from the American Rescue Plan, so there shouldn’t have been a lot of reason to throw out incumbents,” Candelora said. “Still,

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Clinton Town Leaders Talk Election, Priorities

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CLINTON — While retaining a Republican majority, the town council has shifted from a three-party to a two-party body after incumbent Eric Bergman, a Green Party member, was not re-elected on Tuesday.  Two Democrats Carrie Allen and Chris Passante, and one Republican, Tom Hollinger, were elected to fill the three vacant seats. The seven-member council now has four Republican members and three Democrats.  A third Democratic candidate, Paul Gebauer, was not elected.  Bergman said he felt the shift toward a two-party system was influenced by the partisan nature of national politics.  “If we’re stuck on a two-party paradigm … we

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From 5% in Hartford to 61% in Guilford — Voter Turnout By the Numbers

Not every Connecticut town has submitted their election results to the Office of the Secretary of the State, but so far, statewide voter turnout in Tuesday’s municipal elections is hovering around 30 percent – not far off the results of 2019, when the turnout was 33.55 percent, and 2017 when it was 30.01 percent. Of course, the more interesting story is the turnout of individual towns, where voters flock to the polls to have their say on contentious local issues, but rarely turn out in numbers for votes on obscure boards and commissions. In Guilford, one of the most high

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Democratic Party Chair Nancy DiNardo Comments on Tuesday’s Election

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In a call, Connecticut Democratic Party Chair Nancy DiNardo comments to CT Examiner on Tuesday’s municipal elections. There were some disappointments, but there were also some wins that we were very excited about. We did flip some towns that were Republican to Democrat, and we did flip some boards and hold onto some boards in Republican-leaning towns. In many of the open seats, what happened is that the same party maintained power. For example, in Danbury, Republicans controlled the mayor’s seat, and Republicans won again. In Stamford, Democrats controlled the mayor’s seat, and Democrats won again. One of the things

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‘That’s a Wrap’ — 2021 Election Coverage

NORWICH –  Incumbent Republican Mayor Peter Nystrom won his third term in office, defeating former mayor and current Democrat City Council member Mark Bettencourt.  Official results were not available late Tuesday and Nystrom did not respond to requests for comment, but Bettencourt said Nystrom’s lead was “insurmountable.”  “I’m disappointed that I won’t have the opportunity to execute my vision for Norwich, but I wish the best for those who won,” Bettencourt said.   The two candidates had focused on fiscal issues, including how to deal with the town’s high property tax rate and how federal American Rescue Plan dollars should be

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Local Ballot Drives Appear Key to Driving Huge Gains in Absentee Voting

For a second consecutive election, a law passed in the Connecticut state legislature will allow residents to cite COVID as a reason for voting by absentee ballot on Nov. 2. And in several towns across the state, the rates of absentee voting vastly exceed totals in 2019. But according to local election officials, absentee voting patterns appear to rise and fall depending on town-by-town efforts by the parties to distribute ballot applications.  In some towns, the number of residents requesting ballots has declined to pre-pandemic levels, others are still seeing abnormally high numbers of voters deciding to vote absentee. Town

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Esposito Goes Door to Door in Race for Danbury Mayor

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DANBURY — Republican Dean Esposito is running for Mayor, 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 the last few days of his campaign, and what he’s learned from

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Sandra Ruoff Makes Her Case for Re-election to the Guilford Board of Selectmen

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Guilford Selectman Sandra Ruoff, a Democrat, is running for re-election on the ballot alongside Democratic incumbent Louis Federici, incumbent Republicans Susan Renner and Charles Havrda, and Green Party candidate Justin Paglino.  CT Examiner spoke with Ruoff about her bid for reelection, thoughts on Guilford’s Board of Education race, and goals for another term.  This interview has been edited for clarity. How did you decide to run for another term on the Board of Selectmen?   I worked at the Guilford Library for 40 years and was director for 30 years, and in 2017, I was turning 70 and knew I was

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‘I’ve Never Seen an Election Like This:’ Personal Attacks, Campaign Finance Allegations Mar Colchester Race

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COLCHESTER – In the quiet, southeastern Connecticut town of Colchester, voters are used to peaceful local races, with disagreements about where to build sidewalks and how to fill empty storefronts.  But this fall, the race for first selectman has been anything but civil.   “I’ve never seen an election like this,” said Rosemary Coyle, a Democratic member of the Colchester Board of Selectmen who has been in local politics in Colchester since the 1970s. “Republican or Democrat, we’ve always all worked together, there’s never been anything this divisive or offensive.”  Incumbent First Selectwoman Mary Bylone, a Democrat, is facing off against Republican

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John Samperi Makes the Conservative Case for Killingworth First Selectman

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KILLINGWORTH – Ever since John Samperi split from the Republican Town Committee to form his own Killingworth Conservative Party, Samperi, a candidate for First Selectman, has considered himself the “true Republican” choice in town. The RTC, of course, disagrees. And they are very clear that, while Samperi is a registered Republican, he is not in any way affiliated with their committee. So Samperi keeps running, and puts candidates on the ballot each election so the Killingworth Conservatives can keep their party status. Samperi, who runs a heating and air conditioning company and moved to Killingworth from West Haven 16 years

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Jamie Young Makes Her Case for Killingworth Board of Selectmen

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KILLINGWORTH – With no candidate to replace long-time Democratic First Selectwoman Cathy Iino, Killingworth Democrats are pinning their hopes on Jamie Young to win a seat on the Board of Selectmen, and join Lou Annino, Jr., to maintain their 2-1 Democratic majority on the board. In an interview with CT Examiner, Young explained that – despite a fresh partisan battle over whether Republican Selectwoman Eileen Blewett can keep her seats on both the Board of Selectman and the Region 17 School Board – she sees Killingworth is a bipartisan town, where neighbors working with neighbors prevail over party lines.  Along

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Nancy Gorksi Makes Her Case for Killingworth First Selectwoman

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KILLINGWORTH – The election hasn’t happened yet, but Republican candidate Nancy Gorski has her first day as First Selectwoman planned out. First on the agenda is to meet with the health director and DEEP about PFAS and sodium contamination found in wells in town – including at Town Hall. She wants to arrange for a water consultant to offer solutions to people with contaminated wills, and schedule routine testing with DEEP to continue to monitor PFAS contamination, she said. Next up is the Deer Lake Property – the former Boy Scouts of America camp that’s listed for sale. Whether the

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Charles Havrda Makes a Case for Re-election as Guilford Selectman

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Guilford Selectman Charles Havrda is running for re-election on the ballot alongside fellow Republican incumbent Susan Renner, incumbent Democrats Louis Federici and Sandra Ruoff, and Green Party candidate Justin Paglino.  CT Examiner spoke with Havrda about his bid for reelection, thoughts on Guilford’s Board of Education race, and goals for another term.  This interview has been edited for clarity. How did you decide to run for another term on the Board of Selectmen?   This is going to be my fourth run, and in the first two terms, I was part of the majority, and we got the high school through,

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Candidates for Middletown P&Z Sound off

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MIDDLETOWN —  Given that voters will be asked to choose between seven candidates running to fill three open seats on the Middletown Planning and Zoning Commission next week, CT Examiner reached out to get a better sense of why they are running, what they would bring to the commission, and what they picture for the riverfront redevelopment – a project they all said would be the major development to tackle during their terms, and maybe in their lifetimes. Three Republicans and three Democrats are competing for full seats on the commission. The Republicans are current Vice Chair Nick Fazzino, former

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Louis Federici Makes a Case for Re-election to the Guilford Board of Selectmen

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Guilford Selectman Louis Federici is running for a second term on the ballot alongside fellow Democratic incumbent Sandra Ruoff, incumbent Republicans Susan Renner and Charles Havrda, and Green Party candidate Justin Paglino.   CT Examiner spoke with Federici, who is also an attorney, about his bid for reelection.  This interview has been edited for clarity. How did you decide to run for another term on the Board of Selectmen?   I love the town, and I feel I can contribute from the inside in a way that’s helpful, and I feel better being involved than watching from the sidelines. I just completed

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Paglino Boosts Clean Energy in Green Party Bid for Guilford Selectman

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Justin Paglino, the Green Party candidate who challenged incumbent Democrat Congresswoman Rosa Delauro last fall, is running for the Guilford Board of Selectmen. Paglino is running against four Board of Selectmen incumbents, Democrats Louis Federici and Sandra Ruoff and Republicans Susan Renner and Charles Havrda.  CT Examiner spoke with Paglino about his run, and policy priorities if elected.  This interview has been edited for clarity. How did you decide to run for local office in Guilford?   My focus in politics often gets drawn to national affairs, but this year, Guilford has been particularly interesting because of our Board of Education

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A Self-Described ‘Extrovert,’ Roberto Alves Takes the Race Door to Door in Danbury

DANBURY — At the local Democratic Party headquarters, mayoral candidate Roberto Alves was preparing to knock on doors, grabbing a bite to eat while checking in with State Sen. Julie Kushner and Democratic Town Committee Chair Andrea Gartner.  His campaign manager, Francesca Capodilupo, walked into the main street office with Alves’ 13-week-old rescue puppy, a playful hound mix named Abigail Barklett, a name inspired by the candidate’s love of The West Wing.  “I wasn’t sleeping anyway,” Alves quips about the decision to adopt a puppy in the home stretch of the mayoral race.  Barklett stayed behind with the campaign team

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Ellington First Selectman Lori Spielman Makes Her Case for Re-Election

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Ellington First Selectwoman Lori Spielman is running for a fourth term leading Ellington, facing off against Democrat Mike Madru, who entered the race last month after the original Democratic nominee, Charlotte Ward, stepped down due to what she described as a personal medical emergency.  Spielman most recently won re-election against Democratic challenger Peggy Busse, who she beat in 2019 with more than 60 percent of the vote.  The Connecticut Examiner spoke with Spielman about his campaign and priorities if elected. This interview has been edited for clarity. What led you to run for first selectman of Ellington?  I’ve got projects

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Lyme-Old Lyme Board of Education Candidates Take Questions in Public Forum

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OLD LYME — With less than two weeks until the municipal elections, competing slates of candidates for the Lyme-Old Lyme Board of Education answered questions on Wednesday evening about topics that ranged from vaccines and masks to a study of kindergarten to 8th-grade facilities and a three-year strategic plan for the schools. The Democratic slate includes incumbent Martha Shoemaker and newcomers Alexander Lowry, Jason Kemp and Marisa Calvi-Rogers. The slate endorsed by the Republicans includes Michael Presti and Christopher Staab as well as two unaffiliated candidates, Mona Cowell and Laura Dean-Frazier. The event was hosted jointly by the Lyme-Old Lyme

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Groton Democrats Make a Case for Town Council

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GROTON — Democrats have held all nine seats on the Town Council since 2017 when they swept the election, a victory that followed years of Republican control of the council.  This year five Democratic incumbents are campaigning with four newcomers, hoping to beat the seven Republican candidates on the Nov. 2 ballot.  One of the factors that led to the Democratic sweep in 2017 included the council’s cut of about $5.2 million from the school budget after Gov. Malloy’s office threatened to eliminate state school funding.  In an email to CT Examiner, Natalie Billing, vice chair of the Democratic Town

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Door to Door with Madison First Selectman Peggy Lyons

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MADISON — Walking along Forest Hills Drive, a wooded and winding residential road just two miles from Hammonasset State Park, Madison First Selectman Peggy Lyons went door to door, making her case for reelection.  Lyons said it’s different campaigning as an incumbent. “People now have specific things that they want to ask the incumbent about, rather than just trying to learn who you are,” Lyons said. “Usually it’s positive things, but sometimes it’s not, and then it’s a good way to get a perspective on what problems are affecting voters, and get out of the bubble of just focusing on

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Error by State Election Official Draws Complaint, Mars Ballot Applications

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The Connecticut Secretary of the State’s Office is taking responsibility for a violation of Connecticut state statute that affects thousands of absentee ballot applications that Democratic campaigns issued to voters in towns across the state. The mistake, while raising serious concerns about ballot procedures, is not expected to invalidate any requests for absentee ballots. The violation involves exactly how campaigns are permitted to “assist” voters — without being asked — by sending out absentee ballot applications that are already partially filled out with the voter’s name, home address and date of birth.  According to Connecticut state law, people or campaigns

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Independent-Democratic Slate in Guilford Makes its Case for Board of Education

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GUILFORD — A “fusion slate” of Democratic and Independent candidates for the Guilford Board of Education spoke to CT Examiner about their views on the district’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion initiative, the importance of maintaining top-rated public schools and how the board can improve education with the larger community.  In August, The Independent Party of Connecticut endorsed five candidates, including two Democrats, for the Board of Education, in an effort to sidestep rules that would guarantee at least some members of a slate of Republican candidates affiliated with Truth in Education would be seated after the November elections.  The Democrats

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Peter Nystrom Campaigns Door to Door in 19th Run for Office

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After decades in public office, from city council member to state representative to mayor, Norwich Mayor Peter Nystrom said his favorite method of campaigning is door knocking. “Sometimes, while knocking on doors, you discover a need that you wouldn’t have heard about otherwise,” said Nystrom, recalling a meeting with a resident who invited him into his house to see dramatic water damage from flash flooding in Norwich this summer. In 2017, Nystrom was elected with 57 percent of the vote.   This year, Nystrom is running for a third term in office. The Republican incumbent is facing off against Democrat Mark

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Matt Lesser Makes His Case for Secretary of the State

In June, Secretary of the State Denise Merrill announced that she would not be running for reelection, opening the door to a slew of candidates expressing interest in the seat.  One of those is Democratic State Sen. Matt Lesser of Middletown. Three other Democratic candidates, State Rep. Josh Elliott of Hamden, State Rep. Hilda Santiago of Meriden, and New Haven Alder Darryl Brackeen Jr., have also formed exploratory committees.  In 2018, Merrill won reelection with 55.9 percent of the vote to her Republican opponent’s 42.5 percent. A Republican has not served as Secretary of the State since 1995. But this

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Bruce Wilson Goes Door to Door in Madison First Selectman Race

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Bruce Wilson, the Republican candidate for Madison First Selectman, said he has been knocking on doors since July, and is now ramped up his door knocking to seven days a week.  On a sunny, 75-degree Monday, Wilson walked up and down the streets off Neck Road, a neighborhood once mainly made up of summer homes and now populated year-round by families. With the beach just steps away, Wilson said that more families have chosen to tear down the smaller older cottages, combine lots and renovate family homes as the value of the land has increased. Stopping at one smaller lot,

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Advocacy Group Taps Ruben Rodriguez to Push for Hispanic Votes in Connecticut

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The Republican National Hispanic Assembly is launching a new state chapter in Connecticut.  The advocacy organization, which already has chapters in 19 states and in Puerto Rico, asked Waterbury Republican Ruben Rodriguez to lead its statewide effort in Connecticut. Rodriguez previously ran for the seat of the fifth Congressional district and for the Connecticut state legislature.  The assembly’s national treasurer, Santiago Avila said he reached out to Rodriguez about expanding into Connecticut because he saw potential to be more aggressive about courting the Hispanic vote in the state.  “Connecticut has a really big Hispanic base, but Republicans don’t pursue them,”

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Mike Madru Jumps into Ellington Race, Offers a Case for First Selectman

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Mike Madru is challenging Ellington First Selectwoman Lori Spielman. Madru entered the race just a few weeks ago after the original Democratic nominee, Charlotte Ward, stepped down due to what she described as a personal medical emergency.  Spielman has led Ellington for three terms, winning reelection most recently against Democratic challenger Peggy Busse in 2019, with more than 60 percent of the vote.  The Connecticut Examiner spoke with Madru, an insurance industry professional, about his campaign and priorities if elected. This interview has been edited for clarity. What led you to run for first selectman of Ellington?  The candidate supported

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