Wilton’s new registrar has ‘come a long way’

Earlier this month, the town of Wilton said goodbye to Tina Gardner and welcomed Annalisa Stravato as its new Republican registrar of voters.

Following a hectic election season and nearly 20 years as registrar, Gardner officially retired on Wednesday, Jan. 3 — the same day Stravato was sworn in at the state Capitol in Hartford by Secretary of the State Denise W. Merrill.

Thursday, Jan. 4, was Stravato’s first day in Wilton Town Hall’s registrars of voters office.

A mother of three and a Wilton resident of about 17 years, Stravato has served as vice chairwoman of the Connecticut Republican Party for four years and as state central representative of Connecticut’s 26th Senatorial District for a little more than two years.

Looking back, Stravato said, she’s “come a long way.”

“I went from not being a U.S. citizen to now being intricately involved in a process that, I think, is instrumental in who we are and fundamental in everything that we do,” said Stravato, who was born in Italy and has been a U.S. citizen for about or seven years. “It’s been humbling.”

Stravato came to the United States with her parents at the age of 4 and grew up in the Bronx, N.Y. She later earned a finance degree and worked on Wall Street for 11 years.

In the late 1990s, Stravato moved to London with her husband. Following the 1998 birth of their twins, Stravato and her family returned to the States in 2000 and have since called Wilton home.

“When I first came to Wilton, I just really fell in love with the town. I honestly feel like it’s been my home,” she said. “I’m done moving.”

Registrar role

So far, Stravato said, working in the registrars of voters office has been “really nice.”

Not only has she met a lot of new people, said Stravato, but she is also getting to know the election process “from the bottom up.”

In a sense, Stravato said, the registrars of voters are “the first line of defense” in the election process.

“This is where it all starts, and I think registrars are a little underappreciated,” she said.

“We kind of do more of the maintaining and the filing, but it’s crucial to running a very successful election.”

It’s “very important” that people have trust in the individuals “who are pretty much controlling the voting system in their towns,” said Stravato, whose goal as registrar is to provide Wilton voters and their elected officials “a sense of what’s going on” and “assist people with any kind of issues or questions that they may have about the process.”

Although she’s had experience working the polls during elections, Stravato said, there was still much for her to learn before taking office.

Prior to Election Day, for example, she worked as assistant registrar — helping out with clerical work, while also “learning the systems,” said Stravato, “which was very helpful.”

Gardner was “very, very instrumental” in making sure that her transition into the position was a seamless one, said Stravato. “She did a great job.”