Monroe First Selectman candidates’ hopes rise with the voter turnout

MONROE, CT — A municipal election with a competitive first selectman race at the top of the ticket has led to a surge in voter turnout today. As of 3 p.m., 3,133 people participated, which is 6.74 percent higher turnout than the 2,393 who voted  by this time in the 2021 election, when current first selectman, Ken Kellogg, ran unopposed.

“We’re definitely up from two years ago,” said Katherine Briggs, the Democratic registrar of voters.

Sue Waters, the moderator at Monroe Elementary School, said turnout was steady there throughout the day, and noticeably higher than two years ago.

A woman votes at Monroe Elementary School Tuesday, contributing to voter turnout that’s 6.74 percent higher than the 2021 municipal election, and rising.

“We’ve had 500 voters already and we’re only at the halfway mark,” Paul Rizzo, another volunteer working at the polls, said just before 1:30 p.m.

Outside, Town Councilman Terry Rooney, the Republican candidate for first selectman, and Board of Education member Jerry Stevens, who is running on the Democratic Party ticket, greeted supporters.

Stevens held campaign signs with his wife, Kathy, Janice Persico, a candidate for Town Council; Nina Gagnon, who’s running for tax collector; and Jennifer Palmieri, a para-educator in town.

“It’s been great turnout,” Stevens said. “Anytime more people come out to vote, it’s a good sign for the town. It means people are speaking.”

Several drivers on busy Monroe Turnpike beeped their support and waved at Stevens as they drove by.

“And that’s been happening all day,” Stevens said with a smile.

“Monroe Elementary School reminds people the vote is happening,” Kathy Stevens said of candidates and voting signs being visible from the road. “My 90-year-old mother made it a point to vote today.”

“And my 18-year-old is voting for the first time,” Persico said, she looked at Jerry Stevens and added with a smile, “and she’s excited to vote for you! I don’t know about her mother.”

Janice Persico, left, a candidate for Town Council, and Jennifer Palmieri remind drivers to vote as they drive past Monroe Elementary School Tuesday.

Further down the parking lot, Rooney mingled with Republican Town Committee Chairman Ryan Condon, an incumbent on the Planning and Zoning Commission; Vincent “Vin” Duva, a new candidate for Town Council; incumbent Town Councilman Sean O’Rourke, Town Clerk Vida Stone, who is running unopposed, and her husband, Jonathan Stone, who is chairman of the Parks and Recreation Commission.

Rooney and O’Rourke wore red and white baseball caps emblazoned with a “Rooney for Monroe” logo. In addition to hand-held signs for Republican candidates, a giant Rooney for Monroe sign was displayed in the bed of a 1962 Chevrolet pickup truck.

“This day feels like I’ve been through six elections,” Rooney said. “It’s like when you’re at your own wedding and you want to talk to everybody, but you can’t. The time flies by. People want to stop and say, ‘hi.'”

Rooney said he has had a lot of positive interactions with supporters throughout the day.

“It’s amazing. There’s been a ton of support,” he said. “People like what the administration has done. We’ve done a great job with taxes and keeping the town beautiful. People are very happy with where the town is — from the people I’ve spoken to, they’re very happy.”

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