NAUGATUCK — Barely more than 19 percent of the borough’s registered voters visited the polls on Monday. However, those who did were in a distinctly Republican state of mind.
“We had a low turnout, but we had a really pro Republican message,” said Republican Town Committee Chair Dorothy Hoff after the votes had been tallied and the Republican celebration began at Santos’ Restaurant on Church Street.
Mayor Robert Mezzo, a Democrat, was unopposed and easily strolled into a second term in office.
Once the dust had settled Monday night, Republicans picked up two seats on the Board of Burgesses and now hold a 5-4 majority.
Republican Tamath Rossi earned the most votes among the burgess candidates to secure her fifth consecutive term as deputy mayor.
“It’s probably the most humbling thing that’s ever happened,” Rossi said.
Rossi said being deputy mayor is a huge responsibility and she was happy to see that the people of Naugatuck have faith that she can do the job. Rossi said she’s going to make sure the people have the best representation they can get.
“I love my town and I’m very passionate about what happens here,” Rossi said.
Democrat Michael Ciacciarella received the most votes among the Democrat burgess candidates and the second most overall to be named second deputy mayor. Republican Robert Neth finished 12 votes behind Ciacciarella as the third deputy mayor.
As of this post, Town Clerk Sophie Morton was looking into whether there needed to be a recount due to the tight finish between Ciacciarella and Neth for the second and third deputy mayor seats respectively.
Two former Republican mayors found their way back into the political picture Monday as Michael Bronko and Ron San Angelo earned seats on the Board of Burgesses.
Democrat Laurie Taf Jackson followed her mother’s (former Mayor Joan Taf) footsteps into the political realm, as one of two political newcomers to the board. Republican Catherine Ernsky also earned her first term in office.
“It doesn’t matter if you’re first or ninth. You get one vote. I can’t wait for the next two years,” Taf Jackson said.
Republicans on the Board of Education now hold the same 5-4 majority as their burgess peers. The school board will also have a lot of fresh faces with five first-time board members.
“I’m very excited about the new board members,” said Republican David Heller, who is now the senior member on the school board.
Heller said he was ready to hit the ground running at the next school board meeting May 12.
“I have high expectations that we’ll be able to do a lot of good stuff,” Heller said.
It was Republican newcomer Dorothy Neth-Kunin who received the most votes among the school board candidates.
“It feels pretty good,” Neth-Kunin said. “It’s kind of surprising. I was really shooting for number eight.”
Neth-Kunin felt the new board members will need to look to the experienced school board members for guidance as the term begins. She said she’s just looking forward to diving right in and getting involved.
Although it was unclear whether a recount would occur for the burgess race, it was a certainty for the school board race.
Republican Scott Slauson finished eighth (the final spot to win a seat) in the school board race, while Democrat Deanna Krzykowski came in seven votes behind him. The difference of seven votes triggered an automatic recount for the school board race, which was to be held late this week.
The Republican wave continued through the ballot as Republican Michelle Dowling defeated Democrat Ed Carter in the race for town clerk, and Republican Judy Anderson won the treasurer seat over Democrat Henry Kuczenski Jr.
Dowling, who is currently the assistant town clerk, said being elected was pretty overwhelming.
“I feel that I earned it, I deserved it,” she said. “I’ve been taught by the best town clerk. … They voted for the experience and qualifications. That’s what it’s all about—not politics.”