By Dave Moran
WALLINGFORD — The Republican and the Democratic town committees have solidified their slates for the Nov. 3 election, but the impact of the absence of a mayoral candidate on the Democratic side probably won’t be determined until ballots are cast.
Both parties nominated seven candidates each for both the Town Council and Board of Education, more than the maximum six seats any party is allowed to control.
Of note in the council race is that, while the Democrats hold a 5-4 edge on the council.,the Republicans will be running more incumbents because Democrats Michael Brodinsky and Michael Spiteri are not seeking re-election.
The Republican Town Committee nominated incumbents Jerry Farrell Jr., Robert Parisi, Rosemary Rascati and John Le Tourneau Wednesday, as well as Vincent Cervoni, Craig Fishbein and Thomas Laffin.
The Democrats picked Vincent Testa, Nick Economopoulos and Vincenzo Di Natale, who are incumbents, and Robert Gross, John Sullivan, Don Harwood and Jesse Reynolds. Reynolds ran an unsuccessfully for the council in 2007.
“There’s obviously a benefit to incumbency, we all know that,” said Testa, the council’s current vice chairman who is serving his third consecutive term, “so there’s a little bit of an advantage in that respect, but at the same time we’re running four very good newcomers this year.”
Testa said the incumbents plan to campaign on behalf of, and in some cases beside, the newcomers.
“As we campaign, we need to introduce the new candidates as well,” Testa said. “It has to be a team effort. What you have to demonstrate to the town is that as a group of candidates you’re campaigning together, and you have to be able to demonstrate that you’re going to govern together as well.” Parisi, a Republican mainstay on the council since the early 1970s who is running for his 17th term, said this is one of the strongest Republican slates in recent memory.
“I’m very excited, quite frankly,” Parisi said Thursday. “We’ve got a good balance of both youth, experience and a sense of vigor this year. Everybody’s pumped and ready to run.”
Parisi and Testa said that gaining the majority on the council is crucial to both parties because it allows the victorious party to assert a degree of control over council proceedings.
“It helps in the sense of promoting a philosophy, whatever that philosophy might be for the majority,” said Parisi, a former majority leader.
But one area in which the two parties clearly differ this year is the mayoral race, in which, barring a third-party candidacy, Mayor William W. Dickinson Jr., a Republican who has held office since 1984, will be running for his 14th term unopposed.
The only other time Dickinson did not face a Democratic challenger, in 2001, Republicans seized control of the Board of Education and the council. That year, 56 percent of all votes cast were for Republicans, compared to 44 percent for Democrats, and the GOP ended up with six members on both the school board and the council.
Testa said he does not foresee a similar occurrence this year.
I don’t think that’s going to make a big difference,” he said of his party’s inability to field a mayoral candidate. “It’s nice to have someone on the top of the ticket, but unless it’s a very strong contender it’s not going to bring many votes to the underticket anyway. We still have to get out there and campaign.” Still, Dickinson said he is gearing up for his campaign, which he expects to begin in earnest in the fall.
“You have to communicate your thoughts and ideas regardless,” he said. “Sometimes it’s easier if there’s a contest, but I suspect there will be plenty of events with other candidates this year to express my views.”
The Democratic council slate could also grow by an additional candidate if Geno Zandri, a former five-term councilor and the party’s candidate for mayor in 1999, succeeds in his effort to petition his way onto the ballot.
Zandri needs to collect the signatures of 0.05 percent of all registered Democrats in town, or about 375.
“I just felt I wanted to petition on,” he said Thursday. “It was the easiest for me.”
Vincent Avallone, chairman of the Democratic Town Committee, said that if Zandri succeeds he will be welcomed.
“If he does, he’ll be on the ticket with the other seven Democrats,” Avallone said. “And we’ll support all the candidates.”