PLYMOUTH - Itâ€™s a three-way race for mayor this year, but one of the candidates is hoping someone will step forward to fill his spot on the ballot this November.
Republican incumbent David Merchant is running for his third term, and facing a challenge from former Republican petitioning candidate Pattie DeHuff. Meanwhile, local Democrats donâ€™t have an official candidate yet, with town committee chairman Paul Gianesini holding the spot for the time being.
Gianesini said the current political climate nationally means many people are turned off by politics. His committee advertised locally for the past four months, seeking potential candidates for offices from mayor down to constable.
It wasnâ€™t easy finding people, â€śbut we found some from the past, and some brand new,â€ť he said.
â€śRunning for mayor is a big commitment. Itâ€™s not a career job, so what do you do in two years if you get voted out? Youâ€™re not going to be able to do it if you have a young family to provide for. Itâ€™s mostly retired people,â€ť he said, citing Merchant and former mayors Vincent Festa and Richard Covello.
So â€ślong story short,â€ť Gianesini put his name in as a space saver, hoping â€śsomeone with business management experience and fiscal responsibility, someone that can deal with union negations and be able to manage town meetings and stick to the town charterâ€ť will step forward between now and mid-September.
Two years ago the Democrats didnâ€™t run anyone against Merchant and â€śwe didnâ€™t want to let that happen again,â€ť he added.
Gianesini said his party didnâ€™t come up with candidates for tax collector, town clerk, town treasurer, or Board of Assessment Appeals.
He urged any Democrats or unaffiliated residents who are interested in running for mayor or other town offices to contact him at 860-582-6988 or email@example.com.
Joseph Kilduff, Republican Town Committee chair, said four out of five Republican incumbents for Town Council seats will be running again. The exception is Ana LeGassey.
â€śRoxanne McCann, who currently sits on the Board of Education, has decided she wants to run for that spot,â€ť Kilduff said. â€śThe Board of Ed terms are staggered so her term is not expiring this year. If she wins she will resign from the board and then the RTC will bring forward a name to replace her. If she is not successful then she will still be on the board, with another two years to go.â€ť
A change to the Town Charter was approved at referendum last November, meaning all five council members will be running at large this year. Kilduff said between the Republicans, Democrats and unaffiliated candidates there could be as many as 15 people running for council this year, with the top five vote getters being elected.
Kilduff himself is running for his second full term as tax collector. He was appointed interim tax collector early in 2015 and elected later that year.
A local organization calling itself Citizens for Responsible Government is running a slate of petitioning candidates headed by DeHuff, who currently sits on the Board of Finance. In 2015, there were also unaffiliated candidates on the ballot, headed by Bill Heering running for mayor.
DeHuff released a video on Facebook on July 4 declaring â€śmy independence from the Republican Party of Plymouth, CT,â€ť and conveying her â€śdismay as those who wear the label of Republican have not been faithful to Republican principles of limited government, individual responsibility and low taxes.â€ť
In addition to DeHuff, the group includes council candidates Brian Dunn, Connie Kapralos, Janet Olmstead, and Chris Simo-Kinzer, and Janet Laverio as candidate for tax collector.
The group is advertising a free hot dog roast meet-and-greet event for the candidates, on Saturday, Aug. 19, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., at 199 Town Hill Road, Terryville.
The Republican slate is:
Mayor: David Merchant.
Town Council: Dan Gentile, Roxanne McCann, Sue Murawski, John Pajeski, Tom Zagurski.
Town Clerk: Barbara Rockwell.
Tax Collector: Joe Kilduff.
Treasurer: Dave Mischke.
Board of Finance: Jim Kilduff.
Board of Education: Gerry Bourbonniere, Dawn Brenner, Josiah Elsaghir, Melissa Johnson.
Board of Assessment Appeals: Ron Wollenberg.
Library Trustees: Mary Wollenberg, Bonnie Leroux, Anita Hamzy.
Constables: Christine Ciarmella, Larry Deschaine, Eric Pelz, Richard Pinkerton.
The Democratic slate is:
Mayor: Paul C. Gianesini.
Town Council: Remie C. Ferreira, Peter A. Gianesini Sr., Joseph M. Green, Christine A. Judd, Lynn Rugh.
Board of Finance: Briana J. Brumaghim, William Kremmel.
Board of Education (two-year vacancy): Edie Balkun.
Board of Education: Jeannette C. Brodeur, Melissa Conan-Kremmel, Richard J. Foote, Ingrid E. Green.
Library Trustee (two-year vacancy): Ellen C. Roth.
Library Trustee: Barbara S. Galvin, Randy A. Picard.
Constables: Todd Brodeur, Brett Festa, Vito D. Flammia III, Mark J. Galvin.
Susan Corica can be reached at 860-973-1802 or firstname.lastname@example.org.