It was a good night to be a Republican in Waterford.
Tuesday’s municipal election gave the Republicans control of the Board of Education and the Representative Town Meeting. First Selectman Dan Steward and running mate Paul Suprin cruised to victory, and Waterford's GOP increased its majority on the Board of Finance.
“I think the townspeople have spoken,” Republican Town Committee Chairwoman Kathleen McCarty said. “They appreciate the Republicans and what they are doing in town.”
Steward won by more than 2,000 votes over petitioning independent challenger Kevin Ziolkovski. And every Republican who ran for the Board of Finance and the Board of Education won, as the GOP now has a 6-3 majority on the education board and a 5-2 majority on the finance board.
“What I am really happy for is we successfully provided a lot of new participants in this program,” Steward said. “These are people who are interested, they are invested in this process, they are new to a lot of it and it just provides a lot of fresh ideas we can move forward with.”
The Republicans also took control of the RTM. Going into the race, each party had 11 members on the board, but the Republicans took an extra seat, now having a 12-10 majority.
“We now have no excuse,” said Republican Robert Brule, who received more votes than any other person running for RTM. “We need to deliver.”
The Other Side
Meanwhile, several long-serving Democrats lost. Chief among them was Board of Education Chairman Donald Blevins, who came in 7th in the race for Board Education, where only the top five were elected.
Still, Democratic Town Chairwoman Susan Driscoll said it was not what the town Democrats were doing. Instead, it was a reflection of the general climate of the country, she said.
“It is a municipal election,” Driscoll said. “There is not always a rhyme or a reason to the results.”
Democrat J.W. “Bill” Sheehan, who won re-election to the Board of Finance, echoed those thoughts.
“Four years ago, Bush was in the White House, and the (Democrats) were enthusiastic about throwing him out,” Sheehan said. “So they threw out the Republicans here (in Waterford) and we swept everything but the first selectman spot. And four years later, the country is a little bit over on the other side, and our folks are not as enthusiastic because times are not exactly rosy.”
Meanwhile, Democrats Sheehan and Atul Shah were “surprised” that Republican David Kenney won a spot on the Board of Education.
“There is one person who got on the Board of (Education) who we think is going to make things very interesting for the Board of Education,” Sheehan said.
“Good news is we will be cured of liberalism, a mental disorder,” said Shah sarcastically, referring to a comment Kenney made earlier in the election season.