GOP candidates meet with voters in Darien on Saturday, as they launch municipal election campaign

DARIEN — Republican candidates came out to Grove Street Plaza Saturday morning for their first official gathering with residents.

Dozens of people were on hand to see some of the party’s hopefuls, including first selectman candidate Monica McNally and her Board of Selectmen running mates, Marcy Minnick and Jon Zagrodzky.

“I think this is a great kickoff to what I think is going to be an exciting election cycle,” said McNally, noting that the beautiful weather aided the turnout.

“I truly hope that people will continue to reach out to us,” she said.

McNally said she considers herself a listener, and wants to hear various people’s opinions and how they view their town, especially the many people who have moved here recently.

“We are all invested in Darien,” she said. “I will listen to you and work to protect your investment.”

McNally, an eight-year veteran of the Representative Town Meeting, was recently appointed to the Board of Selectmen.

“I feel like my job as first selectman will be to keep our town safe, to protect it and to provide superior services,” she said, noting how pleased she was to be running with other Republican candidates.

Zagrodzky, who currently chairs the Board of Finance, also praised the slate.

“This team has got the combination of experience and dedication and connection to the voters,” he said, that will add up to success.

He said his skill set from serving on the finance board will fit well with a role as selectman.

“This is a fairly well-run town and I took great pride in my work on the Board of Finance to maintain that,” Zagrodzky said, “and I’m going to bring that to the Board of Selectmen.”

Like McNally, Minnick cited safety as a key issue to address, including concerns about recent car break-ins, and traffic as it relates to pedestrian and bicycle safety.

“I certainly want to tackle that,” said Minnick, who currently serves on the RTM.

“We’re excited to get out there and talk to the constituents,” she said, “and find out what their needs and wants are for the town.”

State Rep. Terrie Wood, R-141, who was at the gathering, said the local elections were paramount because of concerns over maintaining local control in areas like zoning and education.

“Hartford every day is trying to take local control out of the hands of local (agencies) ... and it’s not solving the issues we need to be solving,” she said.

“Local control is for the people,” she said. “It’s more transparent. Transparency is one of the key words.”

GOP Board of Education candidate Tara Wurm also cited that issue in relation to her candidacy.

“There’s a lot of political ideology that’s being brought into the classroom,” she said, noting curriculum and mandates in other states being brought forward that reflect changes she doesn’t favor.

“I believe we need more critical-thinking skills,” she said, in the classroom.

Wurm said there was great energy around the GOP ticket, and especially praised McNally.

“I think she’s going to be really great for Darien,” she said.

Alex Davidson, chair of the Republican Town Committee, also praised the team and its possibilities.

“Today is really introducing this team to the voters of Darien,” he said, “and it is a team because Darien works best when we work together.”

“The election’s not about Washington. It’s not about Hartford this year,” he said, but about local governance in town.