BERLIN - Incumbent House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz, D-Berlin, was ahead of his opponent Mike Gagliardi on Tuesday as votes were still being counted one hour after the polls closed. Officials said that absentee ballots and votes from Southington were still being recorded.
Aresimowicz was looking to secure his seventh consecutive term after being elected to the legislature in 2004. He has said it will be his final term as House speaker and in the legislature with no further political aspirations
Continuing bipartisan discussions, such as those that produced the budget agreement two years ago; finishing workforce development efforts, particularly in the manual labor trades; and deauthorizing the $10 million toll study since there aren’t enough votes in the legislature to support tolls were his major focuses in the lead up to the election.
Obtaining funding for the Berlin community/senior center and transit-oriented development around the train station, while continuing to work for Southington, as he has on its new senior center, downtown development and schools, were things he said he would work on locally.
He denied residents’ allegations during the campaign that union workers or lobbyists have been paid by their employers or by his campaign to work for his re-election, saying that would be illegal.
Gagliardi, also 47, had an uphill battle in the race when he became the 11th inning replacement candidate for the former GOP challenger, Steven Baleshiski. Baleshiski, a 22-year-old college student who worked at his father’s tae-kwon-do school, withdrew his candidacy and lost his party’s endorsement when negative Facebook posts by him came to light and received criticism.
Gagliardi, a manager at Walgreens who said he didn’t share the viewpoints of Baleshiski, wanted to bring a fresh viewpoint to government to address the state’s deficit. Preventing the reintroduction of tolls on state roads and renegotiating the State Employee Bargaining Agent Coalition agreement were Gagliardi’s main issues of interest prior to election day.
Ensuring school safety by gathering information from other legislators on what has worked in their districts was something else he wanted to do, he said.
Charles Paullin can be reached at 860-801-5074 or firstname.lastname@example.org.