Vitale left behind after primary for burgess


Candidate for burgess Laurie Taf Jackson celebrates her primary win with her mother, former mayor Joan Taf in the background.

NAUGATUCK – Once the dust settled at the polling places Monday night, current Board of Education member Rocky Vitale was the odd man out in the Democratic primary for burgess.

With 100 votes separating Vitale from the top vote-getter, incumbent burgess Mike Ciacciarella, the election was hardly a landslide.

“I’m just very appreciative and humbled that the people of Naugatuck let me serve them for the past 15 years on the school board,” Vitale said.

He said he looks forward to spending more time with his dogs and working on his house, but he still has a few months of hard budget work on the school board. Vitale said he didn’t know yet if he would run again in the future.

“I wish the best of luck to all the candidates in all the offices that are up for election,” Vitale said.

With Vitale out, the other six candidates in the race will go head to head with their Republican counterparts in the May election.

Incumbent burgess candidates Patrick Scully, front, and Henry Kuczenski, right, watch election results at the Polish-American Club Monday night.

Incumbent Burgess Anthony Campbell squeaked back into the race after being cut out after endorsements by the Democratic Town Committee. His petition to get on the Democratic ticket forced the primary.

“I was very happy that I got to be one of the six. … I’m just going to work even harder now to win again in May. There’s a lot of good candidates, so it’s not going to be easy,” Campbell said.

Even though he’s back on the Democratic ballot, Campbell said he’s not sure if he’s in the Town Committee’s good graces.

“I’m hoping that I get their support, but I don’t know. I haven’t heard anything,” Campbell said.

Most of the other candidates, like Campbell, are incumbents, with the exception of Laurie Taf Jackson.

“I can’t wait to sit down with all the other burgesses and get our slate together and start working hard for the May elections,” Taf Jackson said.

The other candidates also said they are ready to turn their sights on the next race.

Mezzo congratulated the winners of Monday’s primary.

“I’ve worked with all seven of the candidates … and look forward to working with them in the May election,” Mezzo said.

He said there was no animosity between any of the candidates.

“We’re all part of the same team,” he said.

About 12 percent or 723 of Naugatuck’s registered Democrats came out to cast their ballot in the primary.

“I thought there would be more, personally,” said Louise Sheedy, the Democratic registrar.

But whether constituents were busy bailing out their cellars from recent rains, taking care of their kids who were home from school, or just weren’t aware of the election, they failed to flood Naugatuck’s eight polling locations with their votes.

Moderators at all the polling locations said the pace was slow on Monday, with voters trickling in one by one.

“Nobody wants to come out. It’s cold,” said assistant registrar at Andrew Avenue School Barbara Lahey.

Moderator Rita Starziski watches over a nearly empty polling place at Cross Street School during the Democratic Primary in Naugatuck Monday.

Douglas Towne was one of the borough Demcorats who came out for the primary.

“I just believe that every citizen should take advantage of their voting rights. We have to make a decision and that’s what primaries are all about,” said Towne, a regular voter who worked on Mayor Bob Mezzo’s campaign two years ago.

Mezzo felt winning a primary is all about name recognition and making sure your voters make it out to the polls.

When he ran for burgess in the 1999 primary, Mezzo said there was a similar turnout.

“The turnout didn’t shock me,” he said.

Naugatuck polling places reported the following results after Monday’s Democratic primary for burgess:

*Mike Ciacciarella………453
*Laurie Taf Jackson……437
*Henry Kuczenski………414
*Robert Burns………….394
*Anthony Campbell……388
*Patrick Scully…………384
Rocky Vitale…………..353

* denotes the six Democratic burgess candidates who will be on the ballot for the May election.