NEW BRITAIN - The mood was jubilant Monday evening as the Republican Town Committee endorsed its slate of candidates, including some new faces heavily involved in the community.
“We didn’t want classic politicians,” said Republican Town Chairman Tony Cane. “We wanted people who are very active in the community who will work for the community.”
Mayor Erin Stewart was endorsed for a third term after her friend and co-worker, Justin Dorsey, told the crowd of about 60 - in a room at New Britain police headquarters named for her father, former Mayor Timothy Stewart - that she had transformed the city. The unemployment rate dipped to 5.4 percent in 2016 from 9.8 percent a few years before and 750 jobs have been created since she took office, Dorsey said.
“The name Erin Stewart has become synonymous with the city of New Britain,” he said.
Town Clerk Mark Bernacki, Tax Collector Cheryl Blogoslawski and Treasurer Mark Degrandis, all incumbents, were also endorsed. Stewart credited Bernacki with bringing the Town Clerk’s Office into the 21st century with online services and better customer service. Bernacki was also endorsed by the Democrats last week, effectively guaranteeing victory in November.
She also thanked her parents, Timothy and Patty Stewart, before explaining that “it’s not easy to solve a $30 million deficit and turn it into a $15 million surplus.”
“Four years ago New Britain was a different place than it is today,” she continued, noting that the slate is inclusive and if a potential candidate wants to work hard for the city, “we want you to be a part of our team.”
The ticket includes Democrats, independents, Republicans and unaffiliated candidates, all running on the Republican slate under Stewart, who handily beat Democratic challenger John McNamara in the 2015 municipal election. The Republican slate swept the election in 2015, winning 12 of the 15 Common Council seats.
This year’s municipal election takes place Nov. 7. The Democrats endorsed Board of Education member Merrill Gay as their candidate for mayor last week. City resident Al Mayo is also campaigning for the seat.
Nearly every incumbent on the Common Council who ran on the Republican slate is seeking re-election, except for Lou Salvio from Ward 5 and Chris Polkowski, an alderman at large. Tremell Collins, Jim Sanders, Jr., Daniel Davis and Daniel Salerno were all endorsed and will seek election as aldermen at large. Jamie Giantonio and Willie Pabon, who represent Ward 1, Kristian Rosado and Jerrell Hargraves, who represent Ward 2, and Dona Naples and Robert Smedley, who represent Ward 4, are all running for re-election.
New faces include Jason Gibson, director of programs at the Boys & Girls Club of New Britain, and Joel Moret, a member of the Latino Coalition, both of whom are running in Ward 3, and Desiree Costa, a former president of the New Britain Little League, who is running for alderwoman at large.
Miriam Geraci, who sits on the Board of Education, is seeking a council seat in Ward 5 along with newcomer Carmelo Rodriguez, president of the city’s Latino Coalition.
Incumbents Nick Mercier and Mallory Deprey are seeking re-election to the Board of Education. Deprey is seeking a full term on the board. She was appointed mid-term in January to fill a vacancy left by the death of Judy Greco, a longtime member.
Newcomer Nancy Rodriguez is also seeking a school board seat on the Republican ticket. She is the wife of Carmelo Rodriguez and a former employee of the school system.
Todd Cheney and Alex Carver, the son of former Alderman Paul Carver and the late Lisa Carver, chief of staff under Mayor Timothy Stewart, were endorsed for the Board of Assessment Appeals. Dick Moreno, Sean Steele, Al Zaniewski and Tom Talalaj were endorsed to run as constables.
Lisa Backus can be reached at 860-801-5066 or email@example.com.