Smith wins first selectman seat in Beacon Falls

Beacon Falls First Selectman-elect Gerard Smith, left, looks over numbers with his son Ben Smith as the election results are announced Tuesday at Laurel Ledge Elementary School in Beacon Falls. -ELIO GUGLIOTTI

BEACON FALLS — Former First Selectman Gerard Smith is returning to the office after garnering roughly 50% of the vote at the polls Tuesday.

Smith received 919 votes to defeat Democratic incumbent First Selectman Christopher J. Bielik, (785 votes) and fellow petitioning candidate David Rybinski (137 votes) to earn his second term this decade as first selectman.

Nearly 44% of the 4,475 registered voters in town cast their ballot in the election.

Smith, a 58-year-old insurance agent, said he refused to run a negative campaign and “wallow in the mud,” and the voters responded to that. He attributed his win to a “good clean campaign and a good track record.”

“People know the truth and they don’t believe the lies,” he added.

Smith held the office from 2011 to 2013. Smith was a registered Republican and received the Republican Town Committee’s backing when he first served as first selectman. Before that, he was an unaffiliated voter and he ran this year as an unaffiliated candidate.

Incumbent Republican Selectman Michael A. Krenesky received 881 votes to earn a seat on the Board of Selectmen over petitioning candidate Shawn Styfco (272 votes) and Democrat Kevin McDuffie (680 votes), who is chairman of the Planning and Zoning Commission.

Since Bielik also received more votes than Styfco and McDuffie, he earned the option to serve as a selectman, even though he lost the first selectman race. He said he will accept the selectman position. He said he’s proud of the work his administration has done the past six years and looks forward to continuing to move the town in the right direction.

“The people of this town are going to vote for the form of government that they want,” he said. “If they want me to be part of that government then I will serve the will of the people.”

Longtime Region 16 Board of Education member Priscilla Cretella (1,191 votes), an unaffiliated candidate who was endorsed by the Democratic Town Committee, and Republican Ben Catanzaro (1,103 votes) were elected to the school board for two opens seats over Democrat Richard Hageman (708 votes).

Incumbent school board member Erik Dey, a Democrat who was elected to fill a vacancy on the board shortly after the November 2017 election, ran unopposed for the two years remaining on the term.

The other five races on the ballot were uncontested. Incumbent Democratic Treasurer Wendy Rodorigo, and Board of Finance members Lawrence S. Hutvagner, a Democrat, and Kyle Brennan, a Republican, were re-elected. Republican David Dlugos won a seat on the Board of Assessment Appeals, incumbent Democrat Tony Smith and Democrat Mary Ellen Fernandes won seats on the Zoning Board of Appeals, and Democrat Annette Bosley-Boyce, who is chairman of the Library Trustees, was re-elected.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to add voter turnout and reflect vote totals reported Wednesday morning by the Registrar of Voter’s Office.

Correction: An earlier version of this article identified David Dlugos as a Democrat. He is a Republican.