Democratic Town Committee declares victory over For All Middletown in primary

Photo of Cassandra Day

MIDDLETOWN — Democratic Town Committee-endorsed candidates won in the underticket race for common council and treasurer in Tuesday’s primary.

“I think the endorsed council slate won handily. I think voters want a combination of experience, new ideas and taking the city in a new direction,” said DTC chairman Robert Blanchard.

Just before 9 p.m., For All Middletown mayoral candidate and Public Works Director Bill Russo gave his concession speech.

Unofficial numbers showed the following, with absentee ballots still outstanding at press time:

Common Council winners are: Grady Faulkner, 1,913; Darnell Ford, 1,871; Vinnie Loffredo, 2,051; Ed McKeon, 1,833; Eugene Nocera, 2,292; Bobbye Knoll Peterson, 1,681; Jeanette White, 2,069; Meghan Carta, 1,695.

The following didn’t earn enough votes to win: Stephen DiCarlo, 1,318; Tina Meijas, 1,325; W. Vance Cotten Sr., 1,440; Sonia Santavenere, 1,457; Gerry Daley, 1,664; Linda Pagano, 1,553; Anthony Mangiafico, 1,661; Robert Santangelo, 1,553.

In the treasurer’s race, Steven Kovach won, with 1,885 votes to Steve Gomes’ 1,577.

In the race for Planning and Zoning Commission, Thomas Pattavina garnered 2,486 votes, Richard Pelletier, 2,466; Elizabeth Emery, 2,348; Catherine Johnson, 2,385; and Kellin Atherton, 1,795.

This was For All Middletown candidate Sonia Santavenere’s first foray into politics. She admitted to feeling “a little bit scared” when approached to run. She has owned The Main Swith Beauty Salon on Washington Street for 23 years.

Affordable after-school care and encouraging small business owners to create a plan for operation that they update at least every six months are issues close to her heart.

“A lot of business owners, their vision for their business, they keep it in their drawer and it’s not working. Businesses evolve and you have to go with the changes,” Santavenere said, especially in an age where social media is so prevalent and influential for some.

Developing the riverfront is important to her. One of her clients told her that her grandson, a millennial, may see change. “I want to see it,” Santavenere said.

Council candidate Tina Mejias is a Meriden police officer and new mother. Education and parks are very important to her. Like Russo, she doesn’t like the idea of a civilian review board for the police, because she knows how thorough officers are in their investigations.

“Not trusting the officers who are expertly trained to deal with various situations. You’re already giving them the indication you don’t trust them,” she said.

Most of the day went without a hitch, but there was one voting issue at Lawrence Elementary School. Some of the ballots were sticking in the tabulator, Democratic Registrar of Voters Lisa Santangelo said, so poll workers were placing those in an auxiliary bin.

They used dryer sheets to remove some of the dust and tiny pieces of paper that may have accumulated inside. “It basically removes the static without leaving a cleaning film,” she said.

“When it goes in, it slides down the shoots, and it was catching on the slide, so it was jamming up the thing,” Santangelo said. “You don’t want to close down the machine and have to rerun everything,” so those ballots will be counted later in the evening.

Lawrence ballot clerk Patricia Banks was a little surprised at how many voters were stopping by Tuesday. She believes when the registrar moved Woodrow Wilson Middle School polls to Bielefield Elementary and Keigwin Middle School’s machines to Lawrence, it caused confusion or possibly kept people away.

“I think because they changed it around from the other schools, the people are not coming in like they should be,” she said.

With two slates of candidates, “It’s something new, so we’ll see how it’s going to go,” Banks added.

Fayerweather - Beckham Hall moderator Juanita Beth Baldwin said she was fielding questions of all types Tuesday.

“It was people understanding how the ballot looks. For us, we want to make sure it’s clear.

“We have a good amount of Wesleyan students registered, now, whether they move from year to year — and this is September — it gets a little tricky. We have some coming in, but we thought there might be a bigger turnout,” Baldwin said.

Vera Nixon and Celeste Vereen sat outside Lawrence Elementary School on Kaplan Drive Tuesday afternoon, directing voters to the rear of the building, where voting booths were set up inside the gymnasium.

“My philosophy is, and I’ve been voting ever since I turned 18, the people are going to vote for whomever. We all — Democrat or Republican or Independent — are hoping whoever we vote for will make a change for the better,” said Nixon, a Democrat who has friends affiliated with all parties.

Issues involving children, the elderly and veterans are most important to her.

Nixon went to several gatherings where various candidates spoke. “I listened — not saying I believed — and tried to pick one that I thought and hope and pray [would make a change],” said Nixon, who isn’t a fan of building the new combined $87.35 million middle school.

“We don’t need that. Plus, in Connecticut, we already pay so many blessed taxes. That’s a change that has to be made: too high. Every freaking time I turn around, I’m paying more taxes.

“Everything: car, insurance, food, gas, everything here in Connecticut,” Nixon said. “We are all suffering and something needs to be done.”

“We try to put someone into office who’s going to do something for the people. If you get into office and you do for yourself, we’re going to remember that the next time it’s time to vote,” Nixon said.

Vereen, who lives in senior housing at the South Green apartment complex, is most concerned about rents increasing. When it came time to pick candidates, Vereen said she chose candidates she knows personally.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to add planning and zoning candidate Elizabeth Emery got 2,348 votes, winning her a spot on the November ballot. The Press also erroneously reported Ed Ford Jr. (instead of Darnell Ford) won the common council primary.