GOP holds Wilton House districts

Wilton’s two state representatives — Gail Lavielle in the 143rd District and Tom O’Dea in the 125th District — will return to Hartford next year after having won re-election Tuesday. Both Republicans topped their Democratic opponents and while Lavielle was Wilton’s choice, it was his hometown of New Canaan that put O’Dea over the top.

After ballot machine problems in Norwalk delayed the final result, Lavielle had garnered 6,085 votes to 5,721 votes for Thomas. It was a strong showing for Thomas, who is from Norwalk, against an incumbent who ran unopposed in 2016.

O’Dea had a much larger margin of victory, winning 6,522 votes to Ross Tartell’s 4,959 votes. A Wilton resident, Tartell won Wilton but that margin of 208 votes was not enough to overcome O’Dea’s hometown advantage in New Canaan.

All voting results are based on unofficial tallies from the secretary of the state’s office.
Lavielle pinned her campaign on seeking to right Connecticut’s perilous fiscal situation. “The Connecticut economy has shrunk 8% in the last decade, and we are the only New England state that hasn’t recovered all the jobs lost during the recession. The priority I have is turning that around,” Lavielle said during her campaign.

She highlighted reducing taxes and spending, growing the tax base, making investments in transportation, investing in education, and providing essential services for the “truly needy.”

At GOP headquarters in Wilton Tuesday night, she thanked her constituents, saying, “It was apparently an election of partisan sentiments and I hope that having won, that my constituents looked beyond that to vote for me. I am humbled and recognize their perspicacity and willingness to consider my work on their behalf on its merits.”

First Selectwoman Lynne Vanderslice, who had stopped in at the headquarters, said, “Gail is my go-to person. Gail is Wilton’s go-to person.”
In speaking with The Bulletin’s sister paper, The New Canaan Advertiser, O’Dea said he was sorry he did not do better in Wilton.

“I am upset I was not able to connect with the Wilton electorate as I have in the past; I am disappointed,” he said. “Looking at what we have done for Wilton and New Canaan in the past year …. I clearly did not do the job [to get that message through in Wilton during the campaign].”

He complimented his opponent, saying, “Ross ran a good campaign. We both committed to talk about the issues. Many said we were the most issue-oriented, and I give Ross credit for it. He never went negative.”

O’Dea thought he may have come across as too partisan in promoting other candidates including state Sen. Toni Boucher. “I was more aggressively supportive of the the team …. I felt so strongly about the team we had in place. I don’t regret that, but it is an explanation for why I got less votes.”

He said he thought voters in Wilton and New Canaan and throughout Boucher’s 26th District “were sending a message to D.C.” Specifically, O’Dea said, what the voters do not like about Washington D.C. is “the vitriol” from President Trump, his “tone and comments.”

O’Dea, who became a deputy leader at-large in the legislature last year, has said his top priorities returning to Hartford would be to grow private-sector jobs, improve transportation, and reduce state spending and taxes.

To achieve those goals he said he would fight to eliminate unneccessary government regulation of businesses. A critic of the New Britain-to-Hartford busway, he would instead fund transit initiatives in high-use areas such as I-91 in Hartford and I-95 in Fairfield County.

He is also in favor pf public-private partnerships and floated options such as an additional tolled lane in each direction of I-95 that would be built privately “at no cost to taxpayers.”

He would also propose a 20% budget cut for each state agency except the Judiciary and Department of Developmental Services.