PROSPECT — Republican incumbent Mayor Robert J. Chatfield secured his 17th consecutive term Tuesday with a landslide victory over Democratic challenger Charles F. Mallon. Chatfield won 78 percent of the vote, defeating the first-term Town Council member, 2,040-591.
Throughout his campaign, Chatfield’s message was simple: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
And it appeared that the vast majority of Prospect voters shared this sentiment with the beloved “Mayor Bob,” who will now be entering his 33rd straight year as mayor of the town.
Chatfield called the victory “gratifying,” saying, “I’m very grateful to all the people who supported me, and even those who didn’t; I’m still their mayor, and I’ll continue to work very hard for them and save their money.”
When asked about his priorities in the new term, Chatfield said he’d continue trying to get more grant money for Prospect, saying some of the money for the proposed Algonquin School site was already “working through Congress.”
He indicated he might consider stepping down when this term ends in two years, as he’s getting older.
Mallon, who ran on a platform of change, promised a more transparent government than the one that has occupied Town Hall since 1977.
Mallon has said that since Chatfield holds many positions in town (mayor, public works director and assistant fire chief), he often represents the requestor of funds as well as a chief voice in their allocation.
Mallon said he was “surprised [the election] was such a landslide … I attribute it to being not as well-known,” especially among the “biggest block of voters in the town,” senior citizens. Mallon was barred from entering the senior center, where Chatfield visits often, on the grounds that he was politicking and Chatfield was not (see story on page 13).
Mallon said he and Chatfield ran a clean, non-negative campaign against one another, but he still believes with conviction that a change is needed in Town Hall.
“I believe we’ve become complacent … maybe it’s going on deaf ears or people didn’t believe it, but I believe it,” he said. “I’m discouraged in that we continue down the same path. I still think we need a change.”
Mallon feels building a strong business base is paramount to the town’s future successes.
“Without that tax base, homeowners will be paying the brunt of [the town’s taxes],” he said, adding that the now-defunct Chamber of Commerce and/or economic development commission should be reinstated.
By attracting a business tax base, Mallon said, the town could offset the costs of Region 16 teacher salaries, which will likely increase when contracts are renegotiated, and the replacement of Algonquin School, which was been “on the books to be replaced” for 25 years.
But Mallon’s party saw little support Tuesday as the total votes for Republicans outnumbered total votes for Democrats, 8,275-3,683.
Chatfield’s Republican Party maintained their majority (5-4) seating on the Town Council as well as the town clerk’s position (M. Carrie Anderson), the treasurer’s seat (David R. Young), and the tax collector’s spot (Diane M. Lauber, who ran unchallenged).
The Republicans also hold all of Prospect’s four seats on the Region 16 Board of Education. Lisa M. Degoes, Robert A. Hiscox, David T. Wartko, and Donna M. Cullen all ran unopposed. Originally, there were four Democrats challenging; however, Democratic Town Council Chairman Michael Scaviola said these were just “placeholders,” who ran only to keep Republicans—or any unendorsed candidate—off an open ticket. They dropped out once the announcement deadline was reached.