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Rodgers, Capeci, Halstead All Come Out On Top In Primary Voting

Published: September 12, 2017

Additional information about Town Clerk candidate Ann LoBosco was added at 9:30 am on September 14. The official vote counts were updated at 5 pm on September 13. Reporters Kendra Bobowick and Alissa Silber contributed to this primary coverage.

Mirroring the outcome of a packed July 24 GOP caucus, a September 12 Republican Primary saw all three party endorsed candidates emerge victorious from a somewhat historic but civil and issues-driven campaign.

According to the official vote talley, current Selectman Will Rodgers outpaced current Legislative Council Chair Mary Ann Jacob; former council Chairman Jeff Capeci overcame current Councilman Neil Chaudhary; and incumbent Town Clerk Debbie Aurelia Halstead overcame challenger and current Town Social Services Director Ann LoBosco to win GOP slots on the November 7 general election ballot.

Mr Rodgers will face endorsed Democrat Dan Rosenthal and petitioning Republican Andrew Clure in the first selectman’s race, Mr Capeci will face Democratic Board of Selectmen candidate Maureen Crick Owen, and Ms Halstead will face Democratic newcomer Valerie Hart.

The official vote count saw Mr Rodgers receiving 620 votes to Ms Jacob’s 418; Mr Capeci receiving 590 votes to Mr Chaudhary’s 432; and Ms Aurelia Halstead receiving 579 votes to Ms LoBosco’s 465.

Joined by Mr Capeci and Ms Halstead outside the Registrar’s office at the Municipal Center, Mr Rodgers told The Newtown Bee that he was grateful for the voters’ support, and that he is personally looking forward to focusing more intently on the issues facing the community in the coming weeks.

“I think it was a healthy turnout,” Mr Rodgers said. “It was substantial and we really had no benchmark. We haven’t seen a [GOP] primary in 25 years.”

“We’re happy that the voters chose us to represent the Republican Party in November,” Mr Capeci said. “We’re ecstatic. We did a lot of work, and obviously the things we did worked for us.”

Mr Rodgers said now that he can focus on the general election, he will be implementing a broader campaign approach to try and get his message out to the broadest block of voters, which are those who have chosen to register as unaffiliated.

To the roughly 20 supporters gathered with Ms Jacob and Mr Chaudhary at The Villa in Sandy Hook Tuesday night as results began pointing in her opponent’s favor, Ms Jacob said, “I have no regrets.”

Ms Jacob said she would have been honored to serve with Mr Chaudhary, but since she and her running mate were unsuccessful in the primary, as Republican candidates, she planned to throw her support to the Rodgers/Capeci team.

“As Republicans we should come together and support them in November,” she said.

Mr Chaudhary said, “I have said from the beginning, there is no bad choice in the party.” He believes Mr Capeci “will do a great job” and Mr Chaudhary looks forward to seeing him elected to a selectman’s seat in November.

First Selectman Pat Llodra, who will be giving up her seat on November 30, was on hand at the Villa to learn the primary outcomes.

Mrs Llodra said Newtown is fortunate to have a number of people willing to come forward and to serve the community in a leadership capacity.

Offering her thoughts and advice to Newtown’s next First Selectman, Mrs Llodra said, “Keep an eye on the common good and don’t be persuaded,” by personal or political agendas, she said. “Don’t let problems define you.”

Reflecting on her time in office, Mrs Llodra noted the many challenges and tragedies Newtown has faced including 12/14.

Her career has been “pock-marked with challenges,” but Mrs Llodra has tried to bring her “best self,” to handle them. “Whoever prevails, I wish them well. I love this community,” and she hopes the next first selectman has the community’s best interest in mind.

Minutes before polling results came in, Ms Jacob said, “Everyone here has played a role,” big or small, in her campaign. “I want you to know how grateful I am,” as she mentioned several people’s efforts on her behalf. She thanked them “for helping us craft our message. I am so grateful, regardless of the outcome.”

Ms Jacob said she has had a “wonderful experience,” serving the town for eight years, and “Whatever happens, we’ll move forward.”

Ms Halstead, who was joined by her mother Karin Aurelia and her sister Sue, said she was “grateful for everyone who came out and took the time to vote today.”

“I am so blessed,” she added. “My family stood by me all day at the polls. I love being Newtown’s Town Clerk, and I plan on doing so for a very long time.”

After learning she was not successful in her contest, Ms LoBosco said, “I want to sincerely thank everyone who voted for me and who offered me so much encouragement to run. Congratulations to all and good luck in November.”

Ms LoBosco subsequently notified The Bee on September 14 that she intends to pursue state authorization to run on the November ballot as a write-in candidate.

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