NAUGATUCK — The Republican and Democratic Town Committees enjoyed an influx of seven new members apiece after caucusing last week.
Some familiar faces retained their seats on each committee, to be sure, but a few rather young politically-minded Naugatuck residents toed the line to serve on the committees, which nominate candidates for political office locally and endorse politicians at the state and federal levels.
On the Republican side, two long-time members, Burgess Bob Woodfield and former Burgess Henry Kogut both stepped down.
“They’ve been here longer than I have, and I’ve been here since 1976,” said Republican Town Committee Chairwoman Judy Anderson. “It’s kind of sad to see them go. But it’s time, we think.”
Andy Bottinick, a second-ward member, also stepped aside to allow some new members a chance, a move Anderson called “gracious.”
Stepping up to the place were notable newbies Michelle Kalogrides, a Board of Education member, Jonathon Farmer, and Seth Bronko, former Mayor Mike Bronko’s son.
“I’m sure [Seth] will be a hard worker,” Anderson said. “He worked hard on his dad’s campaign. … he’s a nice young kid.”
Other new members include former BOE member Raymond Savoy, Armando Pereira, Catherine Ernsky, and Joseph Rotella.
Anderson anticipates the playing field to level back out for the town Republicans, who lost the mayoralty and the majority on the board of burgesses in May’s election.
“[The Democrats’ success] was a holdover from the presidential election,” she said. “Everyone was very gung-ho on the Democrats. Not to take anything away from Mayor [Bob] Mezzo; he ran a good campaign, and we’ll see what he can do. He’s got his hands full with this Board of Education thing right now, and we’re just hoping he handles it well … without costing the taxpayers money.”
She could not comment on who might run against Mezzo in 2011, but conceded that there’s been “some talk.”
The Republicans have not yet endorsed a candidate for Sen. Chris Dodd’s seat. He recently announced he will not seek reelection in November, and a number of Republicans are vying for a nomination.
“They’re coming out of the woodwork now,” Anderson said, “but really there’s too many candidates right now for us to know who we’ll endorse.”
On the Democrats’ side, new members included Sarah Poynton, a local union leader and Jeffrey Russell, a sophomore at UConn-Storrs.
Democratic Town Committee Chairman M. Leonard Caine, III said Russell had always been able to make it to meetings last year and doesn’t anticipate his scholarship to get in the way of town committee tasks.
Other new members include Ron Merancy, Margaret Sheehy, Mayoral Aide Ed Carter, David Cronin, and Dianna Raczkowski.
Caine said one town Democrat, Deanna Costa, turned 18 just in time for the caucus but didn’t net enough votes to join the committee.
“I think that really shows that young people are interested in joining the ranks of the Democrats and getting involved in the town committee,” Caine said.
He said he hadn’t heard of any Democrats wishing to depose Mezzo of his nomination next year.
“I would assume at this point Bob would run and have our support again,” he said.
In terms of Mezzo’s handling of the Board of Education’s budget crisis, Caine noted that the problem existed “long before [Mezzo] was sworn in. He’s trying to get everyone together on the same page and trying to come up with a solution,” he said. “I would hope the mayor and the burgesses, interacting with Finance Board, can come up with a fiscal policy that avoids more problems in the education department and any other department and keeps the town going in the right direction.”
Committee members elected last week
First Ward: Floyd Barnes , Marianna Barnes, Robert Burns, Michael Falcha, Mindy Fragoso, Rosemary Garbukas, Johnna Hunt, Chris Jones, Tom McKirryher, Ron Merancy, Anna Montalvo, Sarah Poynton, Jeffrey Russell, Michelle Russell and Margaret Sheehy.
Second Ward: Dolores Avellani, Ruth Braziel, Edward Carter, Sally Cyr, Brian Falcha, Jim Goggin, Laurie Jackson, Ray Krzykowski, Charley Marenghi, Mike Mormile, Louise Sheedy, Rita Sousa, Theresa Swanson, Joan Taf and Floyd Traver.
Third Ward: Lois Braziel, Leonard Caine, Mike Caron, David Cronin, James Curran, James Jordan, Kevin Knowles, Christine Kuczenski, Hank Kuczenski, Kevin McSherry, Julie Branco Sampaio, James Scully, Pat Scully, Dianna Raczkowski and Rocky Vitale.
First ward: Donald Carten, Katherine Carten, Deborah Gilnack, Nathan Hein, David Labriola, Tamath Rossi, Stephanie Savoy, Raymond Savoy, Helen Wilmot, Richard Wilmot, Louis Wilmot, III
Second ward: Judy Anderson, Walter Bertotti, W. Francis Dambowsky, Jr., Janice Dambowsky, Jonathon Farmer, Dorothy Hoff, William Hoff, Elizabeth Jarvis, John Kalogrides, Michelle Kalogrides, Armando Pereira
Third Ward: Eileen Bronko, Michael Bronko, Seth Bronko, Agnes Dann, Catherine Ernsky, Beth Houghtaling, Matthew Katra, Rosa Rebimbas, Joseph Rotella, Ronald SanAngelo, Chris Ford