Party leaders urge voters to come to the polls, despite no first selectman’s race

Voters will decide on a Town Council race where every seat is being contested, as well as a two-way-race for treasurer on Election Day this November. But the rest of the ballot offers no choices at all.

First Selectman Ken Kellogg, the Republican incumbent, is running unopposed, and the rest of the elected positions have the same number of candidates as openings.

Sean O’Rourke, the Republican Town Committee chairman, said no race at the top of the ticket could lower enthusiasm among voters, with Democrats not going to the polls because they don’t have a candidate and Republicans, figuring “their guy” is already in, deciding to stay home.

But he said that would be a mistake, because it’s the Republicans’ six to three majority on the Town Council that allows Kellogg to carry out his agenda.

“The Town Council is absolutely critical to maintain the direction this town is going in and has been going in,” O’Rourke said. “We’re trying very hard to get out the fact that it is an important election. I think the fact the first selectman is not being challenged is a first in Monroe.”

“I can’t explain why the Democrats are choosing not to run a first selectman candidate,” O’Rourke added. “I don’t know if it’s the fact of our low taxes, fully funded schools, excellent town amenities and the conscientious development of our commercial spaces.”

“The Democrats do not endorse the current first selectman,” said Patricia Paniccia, the Democratic Town Committee chair. “The qualified potential candidates our party had were unable to leave their current careers for the salary Monroe pays its first selectman.”

Paniccia said Democrats’ full slate of  Town Council candidates and Christa DeLeo challenging Treasurer Pat O’Hara, the Republican incumbent, are meant to restore checks and balances and transparency in Town Hall.

“As it stands now, the town government is a one-party system without checks and balances,” Paniccia said. “It is a rubber stamp government for the Republican Party, shortchanging all Monroe residents. People’s best interests are served when there is a back and forth — a sharing of different perspectives on the issues facing our town.”

“The 2019 municipal election gives Monroe voters the opportunity to put a check on the Republican majority, who have lacked a vision for appropriate economic development for years, not kept up with our town’s road improvement plan, and have kept our town in the past,” she said.

But, while Republicans are running a candidate for every board seat their party can win, the Democrats are not.

O’Rourke conceded volunteering to serve on town boards and commissions is a huge commitment, so it is not always easy to get candidates.

“It’s not easy to take that block of time away from family and work,” he said. “We’ve managed to keep our posts, boards, commissions and councils staffed as fully as possible, minus the normal range of attrition. It’s something we try hard to maintain.”

O’Rourke said Republicans are still trying to fill openings for appointed positions in town government.

The Municipal Ballot

Gov. Ned Lamont, a Democrat, is in office, so on Election Day, Monroe’s Democratic Party candidates will be on the top line and Republicans will be on the bottom. Last week, the Registrars of Voters held a lottery to decide the order candidates’ names will appear, left to right.

First Selectman Ken Kellogg, the incumbent Republican, is running unopposed.

Pat O’Hara, the incumbent Republican treasurer, faces a challenge from Democrat, Christa DeLeo.

There are 12 candidates running for nine Town Council seats. Due to rules on minority representation, one party can have a maximum of six seats.

The Republicans are running six candidates: incumbent Chairman Frank Lieto, incumbent Vice Chairman Enid Lipeles, incumbents Terry Rooney, Kevin Reid and Sean O’Rourke. Jonathan Formichella is also vying for a seat.

The Democrats are running incumbents Dee Dee Martin, Jennifer Aguilar and Jason Maur. Former councilwoman Phyllis Kansky, Spencer Wesley and former registrar of voters Susan Koneff are also challenging for seats.

Town Clerk Vida Stone and Tax Collector Debra Heim, both Republicans, are unchallenged.

The Board of Finance has four seats and four candidates: Democrat Steve Kirsch and Republicans Craig Hirsch, Rebecca O’Donnell and Dane Krchnavy.

The same goes for the Board of Education. Four candidates running for four seats include Democrats Nick Kapoor and Dr. Alan Vaglivelo and Republicans David Ferris and Shannon Monaco.

The Planning and Zoning Commission has three candidates and three seats up for election. Republicans Bruno Maini and Ryan Condon are running, along with Democrat Leon Ambrosey.

Planning and Zoning Commission alternates have Republican candidates Ron Schneider and Robert Westlund, and Democrat Domenic Paniccia running for three seats.

Two candidates are running for the two constable positions, Democrat Pat Tomchik and Republican Vic Yanosy.

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