Post-election: GOP won big, but Dems see gains
So how did Wilton Republicans and Democrats fare in the municipal election on Nov. 5? It depends on whom you ask.
Following the election, Republican Town Committee Chairman William Lalor was quick to point out the election was a “dramatic and exceptional win for Republican-endorsed candidates,” in an email to The Bulletin.
Republican First Selectwoman Lynne Vanderslice was reelected with 3,051 votes, getting the most of any candidate in the contested races. For the Board of Education, Republican Jennifer Lalor got 3,031 votes, getting the second highest vote tally in the contested races.
For the Board of Selectmen, Republican Joshua Cole got the most votes, with 2,336. Democrat Ross Tartell came in second with 2,160 votes, earning him a seat on the board as well.
Republicans were also top vote getters on the other boards, too.
For the Board of Finance, Republican Peter Balderston was the top vote getter with 2,527 votes. Democrat Mike Kaelin was second with 2,518 votes and Chris Stroup, who is unaffiliated but ran on the Democratic line, was third with 2,484 votes. All three earned seats on the board.
In the race for Planning and Zoning Commission, four candidates were elected. Incumbent Melissa-Jean Rotini, who is unaffiliated but ran on the Republican line and was therefore designated as a Republican, got 2,871 votes, the most of any P&Z candidate. Republican Richard Tomasetti Sr. was second with 2,808 votes, and Republican Matthew Murphy was third with 2,639 votes.
Unaffiliated candidate Jake Bittner, who ran on the Republican line, came in fourth with 2,515 votes.
However, due to minority representation rules, Bittner did not get a seat. Instead, Democrat Florence Johnson, who got 2,304 votes will take the fourth seat on the commission.
Minority representation limits the maximum number of members from one party to serve on a board or commission.
The top vote getter of the entire election was Republican Gerald R. Holdridge, who ran unopposed for Zoning Board of Appeals alternate, receiving 3,156 votes.
Democratic point of view
Despite Republican dominance in the election, Tom Dubin, chairman of Wilton’s Democratic Town Committee, took away some positives. “Democrats maintained the same number of seats on every board and we increased our representation on two boards,” he said.
Democrats gained one seat on the Board of Selectmen, with Democrat Ross Tartell earning a seat, ousting incumbent David Clune, who is unaffiliated and ran as a petitioning candidate.
Democrats also increased their representation on the Board of Finance, with Kaelin and Stroup besting Republican candidate Warren L. Serenbetz Jr.. “On the finance board, we now have a 3-3 even split of Democrats and Republicans. Before the election, there were four Republicans and two Democrats,” Dubin said.
Looking at the overall picture though, out of 19 Republican-endorsed candidates, only one (Serenbetz) didn’t win, while another wasn’t seated because of minority representation rules.
Trying to glean a positive from those results for the Democrats, Dubin said, “The overall perspective is that we moved forward with two additional seats on the two most important boards in town and we look forward to doing even better in upcoming elections.”
Dubin also believes Wilton Democrats and Republicans worked well together during the election season to make sure the conversation in town, lawn signs, and letters to the editor were “consistent with the values Wilton represents.”
There were 12,355 eligible voters in Wilton on Election Day, with 4,881 casting votes, a 39.5 percent voter turnout. This was slightly higher than the statewide voter turnout average of 33.22 percent.
Following the election, on Facebook, First Selectwoman Lynne Vanderslice thanked everyone who voted. “Turnout of 39.5% continues a trend of good participation in the municipal elections,” she said.
She said, she and town employees look forward to working with the new boards, “as we continue to seek to insulate Wilton from the state’s economic pressures by reducing the cost of government, growing the grand list, and protecting our most valuable assets: our schools, infrastructure, natural environment, and quality of life.”