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NOTE (Wednesday, November 8, 2017): This story was updated at 10:15 am to modify and correct details related to the Board of Education candidates. Ballot results were added at 2:25 pm.
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Bee Reporters Kendra Bobowick, Andrew Gorosko, and Alissa Silber contributed to this election coverage.
Democrat Dan Rosenthal will lead a new administration after capturing the first selectman’s seat in local voting November 7, outpacing his Republican opponent Will Rodgers by about a 1,400-vote margin.
This win brings a third generation of the Rosenthal family to Newtown’s top elected seat. Mr Rosenthal’s father Herb served from 1997 to 2007, and his grandfather Jack held consecutive terms from 1976 to 1987.
Dan Rosenthal’s running mate Maureen Crick Owen was also successful as the top vote-getter for the Board of Selectmen’s race. She will be joined by Republican selectman candidate and former Legislative Council Chairman Jeff Capeci.
“Wow, I have work to do,” exclaimed the incoming first selectman as unofficial polling numbers began to reveal his win along with Ms Crick Owen.
Speaking quietly to The Newtown Bee moments before he addressed the crowded Democratic Headquarters Tuesday evening, Mr Rosenthal said he was “feeling great. This is humbling. We worked hard.”
His win, he admitted “wasn’t all because of me.” The incoming town leader credited the effort of many volunteers who made phone calls, knocked on doors, and lent their support in some way to his campaign.
“I certainly didn’t expect anything like this,” said Mr Rosenthal.
Champagne corks flew as toasts “to our new first selectman” rang out in the packed party headquarters at 30 Church Hill Road.
Mr Rosenthal turned to his closest supporters and confided, “I’m at a loss for words.
“When I committed to [running for office] I never expected anything like this,” he added, as his numbers revealed a higher vote count than he had imagined.
Nodding to Ms Crick Owen, Campaign Chair Joan Plouffe, Candidates Chair Rebekah Harriman-Stites, Democratic Town Committee Chair Eric Paradis, and all his other supporters, Mr Rosenthal said, “People got behind us, and how do I thank people for giving in ways that I never asked them to? How do I repay, except to say I love you all.”
With his family edging closer to him, he turned to his wife Meri.
“My family gave up so much,” he said pausing for a kiss.
“This experience has been amazing,” the incoming first selectman said, again crediting the many volunteers who had “worked so hard” on his campaign.
Regarding the race, he said, “We stayed on the message of inclusion,” which he said resonated with voters. “They gave us something special and precious tonight.
“We have to work together,” Mr Rosenthal continued. “My opponents are terrific people.” He observed that this campaign season, candidates “stayed above the fray.”
“We kept it about issues,” the successful candidate added. Mr Rosenthal then acknowledged his father and late grandfather, saying he hoped to make them proud.
“The voters expect us to work hard and together,” Mr Rosenthal said.
Ms Crick Owen also remembered her late father who she said was “looking down, too,” as she prepares to serve as selectman.
“We are here to do what voters asked. We all worked so hard,” she added. “I thank you all so much.”
‘An Incredible Run’
Earlier in the evening, DTC Chairman Paradis told The Newtown Bee, “We had an incredible run. We have a chance to change how Newtown operates. People have stepped up. It’s fantastic.”
He also thanked the groundswell of volunteers who contributed to the campaign.
A short distance away at My Place Restaurant on Queen Street, local Republicans had gathered to await the voting results. As the numbers were announced and projected for the crowd to view, Mr Rodgers spoke briefly to the crowd.
“Unfortunately, we had a very bad night. Jeff and I lost by approximately 20 percent to our opponents,” Mr Rodgers informed his supporters. “It’s disappointing results, but nonetheless we worked very hard. I would like to thank everybody for all their efforts. In particular, I would like to thank my wife, my running mate, his running mate Tanya, and my campaign team for a job well done.”
Mr Capeci, who is also the Republican Town Committee chairman, thanked everyone and remarked, “I think there is a lot of other stuff going on both federally and at the state level.”
Observing that Democrats “certainly outraised us fundraising,” Mr Capeci also cited the distraction of a mid-September Republican primary for putting his party’s candidates “at a disadvantage.”
“Maybe it wasn’t our year,” Mr Capeci said, acknowledging that Republicans were the leading party on most town elected boards since he became involved after moving to Newtown.
“I wish Dan and Maureen and the rest of the Democrats the best of luck and success in running our town, keeping our taxes low, and making it a nice place to live for all of us,” Mr Capeci concluded.
Before Mr Rodgers and his running mate departed to congratulate their Democratic opponents, Mr Capeci told The Newtown Bee, “We did a lot of work and it didn’t pay off this time. The voters spoke, and we will let the Democrats rule for two years at least and we are going to work for next time.”
Across town, petitioning Republican first selectman hopeful Andrew Clure learned that he had logged about 200 votes. He had previously told The Newtown Bee that if he was unsuccessful in the race, he would retain his current seat on the Board of Education, as well as an appointed seat on the Community Center Commission.
As poll numbers began coming in, he gathered with a number of friends and family at Franco’s Pizza & Pasta at Sand Hill Plaza to socialize over dinner.
After results were affirmed, Mr Clure offered his congratulations to Dan Rosenthal, saying, “The town is fortunate to have Mr Rosenthal become its first selectman.”
He then thanked family and friends who helped him in his bid for the town’s top elected post. Of the campaign, Mr Clure told The Newtown Bee, “It was a great learning experience.”
Other Race Results
In other election news, incumbent Democratic Board of Finance Vice Chair James Gaston handily won a second term, leading the race. He is joined by Democrat newcomers Roger Cyr, Steve Hinden, and former Board of Education Chairman Keith Alexander. Mr Alexander had switched parties in order to run on the Democratic ticket.
Incumbent Republican finance board members Sandy Roussas and Mark Boland each won second terms, marking the first time since the Board of Finance was reinstituted 14 years ago by Charter Revision that Democrats will hold a majority.
For the Legislative Council, preliminary District 1 counts show Democratic incumbents Paul Lundquist, Judit DeStefano, and Chris Eide all winning re-election along with Republican newcomer Jay Mattegat.
In Council District 2, incumbent Democrats Dan Honan and newcomer Jordana Bloom will join Republican incumbents Ryan Knapp and Dan Wiedemann.
In District 3, former Democratic finance board member Kelley Johnson will join Democratic newcomers Chris Smith and Robert Pickard as council representatives along with incumbent Republican Phil Carroll.
This means a Democratic majority will take over on the council as well, marking a definitive political power shift on that elected panel with an apparent 8-4 makeup, and tipping influence decidedly away from the GOP.
In the split year race for the Board of Education, incumbent Democrats Michelle Embree Ku and Debbie Leidlein have won re-election, along with Republican incumbent Dan Cruson, Jr, and GOP newcomer Daniel Delia.
Shortly after the polls closed, incumbent Republican Town Clerk Debbie Aurelia Halstead claimed victory in a three-way race. She overcame Democratic newcomer Valerie Hart and write-in candidate Ann LoBosco.
Another write-in, school board contender Deborra Zukowski similarly failed to muster enough votes to compete against party-endorsed competitors on the ticket.
Newtown’s Municipal Election By The Numbers
The 2017 Newtown Municipal Election has produced a number of historic results, including seating a third-generation Dan Rosenthal as first selectman, following in the footsteps of his father Herb, and grandfather Jack, who each served in that office.
Poll outcomes also placed Democrats in control of the Board of Finance for the first time in memory, and likely seated an eight-member supermajority of Democrats on the Legislative Council.
Mr Rosenthal’s win along with his Democratic running mate Maureen Crick Owen also gives the Board of Selectmen a Democratic majority for the first time since his father Herb left office in 2007.
Newtown has approximately 16,726 registered voters; about 36 percent of those cast ballots in this week’s election.
Ballot results must be officially certified by the town clerk.
Visit this website or The Newtown Bee’s Facebook page for any updates. The unofficial poll results including absentee and Election Day Registration (EDR) ballots are below:
Dan Rosenthal (D) — 3,872
Will Rodgers (R) — 2,471
Douglas Andrew Clure (R petitioning) — 192
Board of Selectmen
Maureen Crick Owen (D)— 3,642
Jeff Capeci (R) — 2,714
Legislative Council District 1
Judit DeStefano (D) — 1,268
Chris Eide (D) — 1,165
Paul Lundquist (D) — 1,333
Joseph Girgasky (R) — 937
George Guidera (R) — 1,011
Jay Mattegat (R) — 1,075
Legislative Council District 2
Dan Honan (D) — 1,418
Clinton DePaulo (D) — 1,123
Jordana Bloom (D) — 1,206
Ryan Knapp (R) — 1,248
Daniel Wiedemann (R) — 1,145
Matthew Mihalcik (R) — 1,048
Legislative Council District 3
Robert Pickard (D) — 993
Chris Smith (D) — 1,116
Kelley Johnson (D) — 1,157
Phil Carroll (R) — 1,100
Rance Thompson (R) — 974
Dennis Kokenos (R) — 965
Valerie Dudeck Hart (D) — 2,662
Debbie Aurelia Halstead (R) — 3,259
Ann LoBosco (R write-in) — 348
Board of Finance
Keith Alexander (D) — 3,645
James Gaston (D) — 3,960
Steve Hinden (D) — 3,391
Roger Cyr (D) — 3,563
Mark Boland (R) — 3,582
Sandy Roussas (R) — 3,570
Armel Kouassi (R) — 3,066
Robert Licata (R) — 3,077
Board of Education
Debbie Leidlein (D) — 3,216
Michelle Embree Ku (D) — 3,289
Daniel Cruson, Jr (R) — 3,041
Daniel Delia (R) — 2,511
Deborra Zukowski (R) — 165 write-in
Board of Assessment Appeals
Marianne Brown (R) — 4,169
Planning & Zoning Commission
Barb Manville (D) — 3,696
Don Mitchell (D) — 3,413
Frank Corrigliano (R) — 3,102
Margot Snellback (D) — 3,495
Dave Rosen (D) — 3,528
Fredrick Taylor (R) — 3,174
Roy Meadows (R) — 3,224
Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA)
Alan Clavette (D) — 4,067
Barbara O’Connor (R) — 3,824
(filling vacancy — two years)
Stephen Singlak (R) — 2,994
Jane Sharpe (R) — 3,606
Prerna Rao (D) — 3,173
Joe Bojnowsi (D) — 3,437
Christina Paradis (D) — 3,525
Charles Gardner (R) — 3,082
Robin Buchanan (R) — 3,329
Andy Sachs (D) — 3,639
Scott Ciccari (R) — 3,204
David Ruhs (R) — 2,976
Edmond Town Hall Board of Managers
Jen Guman (D) — 2,883
Jen Chaudhary (R) — 3,009
(filling vacancy — two years)
Herb Rosenthal (D) — 4,500