BEACON FALLS — The Republican Town Committee endorsed a full slate of candidates Tuesday night, although not all of their names may appear on the ballot in November.
The slate’s top two candidates, incumbents First Selectman Gerard Smith and Selectman David D’Amico, were not initially nominated for re-election.
Both were eventually endorsed after concerns were raised about being able to fill the vacancy for the two seats.
When the committee first went through its slate, members only endorsed four candidates to run. The committee went through the nominating process again to fill the vacant positions because empty spots can not be filled by the committee at a later time. Candidates can petition to get on the ballot.
Chuck Pyne, a member of the Connecticut Republicans state Central Committee, was at the meeting to offer advice. He recommended the committee fill as many positions as possible.
“If you don’t have a name to submit as part of the endorsed slate tonight you lose the opportunity to have somebody on the ballot in November. If you put somebody’s name on tonight they can withdraw it at a future date up until very close to the election and the committee to fill vacancies can then replace them,” Pyne said.
Smith was non-committal when asked after the meeting about his intentions of seeking re-election saying, “My name is on the ballot.”
Republican Town Committee Chairman Ronald Holzman said the lack of candidates that stepped forward to run during the initial round of endorsements was indicative of a larger problem he has seen in the town.
“There are conflicting priorities that people have in their lives and indecisiveness as to whether they are going to continue political office or not. It runs through our whole town committee of people being stressed and pulled in different directions. Not that they don’t care or not that there’s not a desire to do public service, but it’s just being able to put food on the table, meet family commitments,” Holzman said.
By the time the meeting was over, every spot on the ticket was filled.
Newcomers Susan Ploss and Christine Arnold were endorsed to run for the Region 16 Board of Education, which oversees schools in Beacon Falls and Prospect. Both candidates sought the endorsement.
Arnold said she’s interested in running because of her family and background as a social worker.
“I have children so I have an interest in what’s happening in the town,” she said.
Incumbents Len Greene Sr. and Brian Ploss were endorsed for town clerk and Board of Finance respectively. They both sought to run.
Greene said he’s looking forward to continuing his work as town clerk if re-elected.
“When I was appointed 16 months ago I really didn’t know what to expect, but I fell in love with the job. I’ve done a lot downstairs in the office of Town Clerk. There’s a lot more to do and I want to continue to do that,” Greene said.
Incumbent Mike Krenesky was backed for treasurer and newcomer Ed Groth received the nomination to run for tax collector.
Ben Catanzaro was endorsed for the Board of Assessment Appeals and Holzman was nominated for a seat on the Library Board of Directors.
The committee also endorsed Michael Arnold, who sought the nomination, Bill Mis and Ben Smith for the Zoning Board of Appeals.
The committee suspended the rule that a person had to either be present or have submitted an intention to run for office in writing in order to endorse Mis.
Holzman said filling the ticket gives the committee time to find or convince candidates to run.
“What we did tonight is give us more time to either convince those people that they do need to stay in and run again or find the right person that will stay in the job,” Holzman said. “I think the candidates that went through the second nomination time are a strong, very competent team. It’s just getting that commitment. It starts from the top and works down. If the top’s in place the rest will stay. That’s what’s critical.”
However, Holzman does not want just a body to fill a seat on a board. He wants to make sure the committee will only back those who will do the job as well as they can.
“What I do know is, this Republican Party, if we can’t find a competent individual that can do the job and do it well, then we won’t nominate somebody. We won’t nominate somebody that, if elected, can’t do the job,” Holzman said.