Stafford's voters hand reins to new leader, different party

By Lauri Voter - Staff Writer
Stafford - posted Fri., Nov. 11, 2011
A poll worker reads the vote tallies following Stafford's municipal election on Nov. 8. Photo by Lauri Voter.
A poll worker reads the vote tallies following Stafford's municipal election on Nov. 8. Photo by Lauri Voter.

Voters in Stafford overcame some recent obstacles to cast their votes at the Stafford Community Center on Nov. 8, overall choosing candidate Richard Shuck (R) to head up the town's next administration as its first selectman. Shuck was a late-in-campaign candidate who was chosen by the Republican Town Committee to replace candidate “Bosco” Fowler, who dropped out of the race only weeks before.

Before the Oct. 29 winter storm knocked out 100 percent of the town's power and left many residents in the dark for at a least a week, polling was scheduled to take place in each of the town's three districts. The storm's fallout caused officials to consolidate and conduct polling for all three districts at the Stafford Community Center. Nearly 38 percent, or 2,738 out of Stafford's 7,220 registered voters, went to the polls.

Stafford's current first selectman, Michael Krol, opted out of running for another term, leaving this year's first selectman race wide open. Three candidates, David Walsh (D), Richard Shuck (R) and Eric Molitoris (Open Party) tossed their names into the ring in this highly-competitive election year. Shuck's 1,263 topped Walsh's 1,219 votes, with Molitoris receiving 193 of the total count.

When the polls closed at 8 p.m., candidates waited to hear the numbers, which were read in three batches, by district.

“I'm totally shocked by the numbers. I am happy to serve – I love it and I can't wait to work with the newcomers,” said incumbent candidate Lisa Finch (R/O), shortly after hearing the numbers. Finch was reelected to the Board of Education.  

“It's time for a change, and I think the people heard us and agreed,” said Republican Town Committee Chair Doug Minich.

Shuck described the campaign and election as an “amazing experience.” He said that he feels voters heard the message he and incumbent selectman-elect Deidriene Guglielmo-Knowlton conveyed during their "Team Stafford" campaign.

“I think the people of Stafford sent a clear message,” said Shuck. “Even though we got into the race late, people saw me as a person who is level-headed and who will stop the political infighting.”

Even before he takes office on Nov. 22, Shuck is planning to hammer out a list of his first priorities.

“I have already started the transition with Mike Krol,” said Shuck, who also said that opening the channels of communication and keeping the town's people updated is one of his goals.

Shuck will not be the only new face people will see in Town Hall. Several new players from all three parties will take office, and Shuck is ready to work with them and their new ideas.

“I don't anticipate any problems working with anybody that was elected. I think we can all work together,” said Shuck. “I'm thrilled to work with Neil Hoss,” he said.

Stafford's new administration takes over on Nov. 22 and will include the following elected officials: 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   First Selectman: Richard Shuck (R)
Selectman: Deidriene Guglielmo-Knowlton (R/O)
Selectman: Neil Hoss (D)
Town Clerk: Karen G. Troiano (D)
Town Treasurer: Donna Hosey (R/O)
Tax Collector: Stephanie Irving (D)
Board of Finance: Edward M. Muska (D); Ted Rummel (R)
Board of Education: Lisa Finch (R/O); Kathleen M. Walsh (D); Beth Ann Morhardt (D); Sonya Shegogue-Weed (R/O)
Board of Assessment Appeal: Erin Dunn Kirchhoffer (D); Dock R. Sellers (R/O)
Planning and Zoning Commission: Roger Pelizari (R);
Zoning Board of Appeals: Dennis Kaba (R/O)
Constables: Richard F. Hartenstein, Jr. (D); Harold Blake Hatch (D); Gary A. Quinn (D); Brian R. Tautic (D); Wallace Brisson (R/O); Corey D. Bennett (R); Barry Locke (R). 

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