Republicans keep numbers, change faces on Glastonbury Town Council

By Steve Smith - Staff Writer
Glastonbury - posted Thu., Nov. 10, 2011
Town Council candidates Bob Zanlungo (D) and Kurt Cavanaugh (R) greet voters outside of Smith Middle School on Nov. 8. Photo by Steve Smith.
Town Council candidates Bob Zanlungo (D) and Kurt Cavanaugh (R) greet voters outside of Smith Middle School on Nov. 8. Photo by Steve Smith.

Republicans retained their 6-3 majority on the Glastonbury Town Council in the Nov. 8 election, despite having three seats vacated by members not seeking re-election this year. Susan Karp, Carol Ahlschlager and Marti Curtiss each stepped down. Karp, instead, chose to run for the Board of Education, and was elected.

That left three spots open for the Democrats to gain ground on the council, but Republicans were six of the top seven vote-getters. Stewart “Chip” Beckett received the most votes, with 3,855. He returns, along with incumbents Kurt Cavanaugh and Whit Osgood. Newly-elected Republicans are Lorraine Marchetti – a former member of the Board of Education – Diane DeLuzio – a Glastonbury delegate to the Republican State Convention – and Lawrence Byar – a four-year member of the Glastonbury Board of Assessment Appeals.

“We're obviously very pleased with the results,” said William Finn, the town's Republican Party chair. “I think the fact that we were able to retain our majority, both on the Town Council and the Board of Education, given that we had four incumbents not seeking re-election, was a significant statement from the town of Glastonbury. The voters affirmed that we have delivered a very fair and equitable government, and I think we represent that as a party very well.”

Finn added that all of the candidates for office – Republicans and Democrats – were “very well qualified and viable candidates.”

“As a community, we should be very proud with the selection of candidates that we present to the town,” Finn said.

“We've always been able to work as a team, so it was really a team effort,” Finn said. “It really hasn't been one person pulling the party along, so it's really been a collaborative effort.”

Democrats could not gain any seats, instead swapping out two council members for others. Bob Zanlungo and Michele Jacklin were not re-elected. Taking their places are Jill Barry – a former member of the Youth and Family Services and Zoning Board of Appeals – and Tom Gullotta – a former town councilor and Board of Education member.

Democratic Town Committee Chair Patricia Saddlemire said the low turnout was the difference.

“Our only problem is getting out the vote,” she said, adding that much of the party's late campaigning was unable to be implemented.

“The whole week was just sort of horrendous for everyone,” she said. “People's minds were on the mess in their yard and trying to keep their family together and so forth – and that was true for Republicans, as well. I just think that, typically speaking, the people who vote party lines are Republicans. I think Democrats typically split their votes, historically in Glastonbury and in other towns.”

“It was the campaign that wasn't,” Beckett said. “There wasn't a whole lot of campaigning – it was an anomaly.” However, Beckett said the outcome could be attributed more to voters' satisfaction with Republicans.

“The Republican caucus worked very hard for the past couple of years, and it's pretty nice to be recognized for that, and a good way to tell that people are happy,” Beckett said.

The numbers on the council haven't changed, but faces have, and Beckett said that will be a good thing. “I think our town committee was able to find some really good people,” he said. “I think they will be able to step in right where three giants left off.”

Beckett was expected to be named the new council chairperson at an organizational meeting on Nov. 14. “I look forward to it,” he said.

“It was an honor and a privilege to serve,” Zanlungo said. “I will continue to work for the town I love, just not in that capacity.”

Zanlungo said he thought the low voter turnout affected the Democrats more than the Republicans, and that the Town Council was still “in good hands” with Barry, Gullotta and Coon. “They are going to do a great job,” he said.

Overall turnout at the polls in town was 28.3 percent of registered voters. Poll workers said the voting was slow, but steady, throughout the day, and some thought the lower turnout was at least in part due to some residents still recovering from the prior week of storm cleanup and power outages, as well as some who had been staying elsewhere and were still out of town.

As of 4 p.m., the Academy precinct had seen 826 people, or 17.9 percent of its 4,621 registered voters.

“This type of election is expected to be fairly light,” said Assistant Registrar Eileen Kelly. “In view of the turmoil that people have been through in terms of the loss of electricity and the problems with their furnaces... people are still dealing with the remains of some of this.”

“I thought it was reasonably steady all day,” said Academy's moderator, Dave Moorcroft. “You'd have a period when nobody would be here for a minute or two, but then somebody would show up.”

Moorcroft said the pleasant weather on Election Day may have actually brought out more voters than had it been raining, especially after the difficult week.

At Smith Middle School, 837 voters had come through by 5 p.m. Poll workers said they saw a large turnout of senior citizens, and agreed that many people were still dealing with storm aftermath, but had hoped more residents would have seen the importance of the municipal election.

“You can make a greater impact on what's happening in your life by voting in this election, as opposed to voting in any other,” said Elaine Schwartz, one of the poll workers at Smith.

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