Vazzy’s Osteria was jam-packed with over 100 energetic supporters of Republican municipal candidates at the party’s Fall Fundraiser Tuesday night.
First Selectman Ken Kellogg, the Republican incumbent, is unchallenged this year, but the election will include a fight for party control of the Town Council and a two-way-race for town treasurer.
Through long term planning, the first selectman said his administration is working hard to control taxes, improve services and invest in the town’s infrastructure in a financially responsible way.
“What an amazing team we have,” Kellogg told his supporters. “Everyone here tonight, I can’t thank you enough, because together we are getting the job done. Taxes in Monroe are lower than they were two years ago.”
Alluding to Democrats pointing out “for lease” signs along Monroe’s commercial thoroughfares of routes 111 and 25, Kellogg said, “and don’t be fooled for a moment, we are driving economic development in town.”
Kellogg said he has recently participated in at least a dozen ribbon-cuttings for new businesses, adding, “and we’re scheduling them all the time.” He pointed to small businesses who choose to stay in Monroe and NEHDS Logistics, which moved its corporate headquarters to town.
“We are getting it done,” he said. “There are a lot of businesses moving to Monroe and staying in Monroe — and there’s plenty more on the horizon. We’re meeting constantly with developers and commercial brokers who have ideas that they’re trying to propose.”
“I cannot do it all,” Kellogg said. “I am incredibly thankful to everyone in this room for your support. We need to get the vote out, because we need to keep moving this town forward. Let’s get the vote out in November.”
‘Strong, smart, intelligent leadership’
Treasurer Pat O’Hara, the Republican incumbent, faces a challenge from Democrat, Christa DeLeo.
Republicans have enjoyed a six-to-three majority on the Town Council for many years, but that is under threat from Democrats putting up candidates for every seat they can contest.
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.
Cheers filled Vazzy’s dining room when State Rep. J.P. Sredzinski, R-Monroe, asked, “who here in this room loves the town of Monroe?”
“Everyone here loves Monroe,” Sredzinski said. “It doesn’t happen by itself. It happens with strong, smart, intelligent leadership that is persistent. Ask any of the people on the Town Council, the Board of Finance, Board of Education and the First Selectman’s Office. This is a nonstop job and it requires a lot of attention.”
“We don’t have super competitive elections up and down the ballot, but we do have the need to get the vote out,” he continued, “so in the next weeks and months if people ever say to you, ‘eh, Ken’s gonna win. What’s the point?’ explain to them how important Town Council is. Explain to them how important the town treasurer is and how it’s important to get out there and cast your vote.”
Rooney, who also serves as vacancy chair on the Republican Town Committee, organized Tuesday’s fundraiser.
“Under the leadership of our selectman, Ken Kellogg, we have seen Monroe regain positive, forward momentum on many fronts,” Rooney said, “and with community support, we look forward to keeping that momentum. Thank you Ken, maybe that’s why you don’t have competition this year.”
“Tonight, however, is about the under-ticket, the people who have served selflessly week-after-week, night-after-night away from their families for not a single dollar,” he continued. “This is uniquely impressive, especially since we live in a time when altruism seems to be a rare character trait.”
RTC chairman and fellow town councilman, Sean O’Rourke, echoed that sentiment and also asked supporters to assist Michael Herbst, the Republican candidate for first selectman in Trumbull, who attended the dinner.
Herbst, the father of former Trumbull First Selectman Timothy Herbst, is challenging incumbent Democrat, Vicki Tesoro.
Another prominent guest that night was J.R. Romano, chairman of the Connecticut Republican Party.
“I love my job, and that’s holding Democrats accountable,” Romano said, “and it’s easier when I have Republican-led towns like Monroe holding the line on spending, protecting its seniors and investing and growing their grand list. Show me a well run town in the state and I’ll show you a Republican mayor or first selectman.”