Middletown Elections TABLEOn Tuesday, Nov. 2, Middletown residents went to the polls to vote for four open Board of Education (BOE) seats, four open Planning and Zoning Commission (PZC) seats, and two local ballot questions. Both questions succeeded, according to a delayed report released by the Connecticut Secretary of State’s office

The report also shows that, of the 28,717 voters registered before or on election day, about 20% (5,782) voted this year. This number is on par with previous off-year municipal elections. Of the ballots cast, 971 were absentee and 21 were registered on election day.

In the BOE race, Democrats Emily Jackson and Debra Guss, alongside Republicans Charles Wiltsie and incumbent Jon Pulino, won their bids. In the PZC election, Democrat Shanay Fulton—a current alternate member on the commission—won her seat, while Republicans Sebastian Giuliano and incumbent Nicholas Fazzino won theirs, and Republican Hillary Thompkins took the open Alternate seat. The current Chairman of the PZC and Wesleyan Professor of Biology Stephen Devoto lost his bid for re-election. Devoto ran as a petitioning, non-partisan candidate.

Though the top vote-receiving candidates were all Democrats in both races, Republicans were given favor as a result of statewide minority representation rules stipulating that no more than two-thirds of any given municipal board or commission can belong to the same party. For this reason, Democratic candidate for PZC alternate Michael Fallon—despite receiving 2,945 votes—was defeated by Republican Hillary Thompkins, who received 1,874.

Wiltsie, who received 2,176 votes in the BOE race, released a statement thanking his supporters and congratulating fellow victorious Republicans on Facebook just after midnight on Nov. 3.

“Congratulations to all who participated in this election and welcome back incumbent Jon Pulino of the Board of Education,” Wiltsie wrote. “Also welcome new Planning & Zoning member Seb Giuliano and incumbent Nick Fazzino with new alternate Hillary Thompkins. Thank you to the voters and the other candidates…and the entire team that supported us and actively helped us get the word out. As for me, I look forward to serving the public in my new role as a member of the Board of Education.”

Prior to the election, Jackson spoke to “Patch” about how she intended to steer her prospective term on the BOE.

“All of our decisions should be centered around what is best for our students,” Jackson said. “We have a very diverse student body, and we should always do our best to meet them where they are. Equity doesn’t mean we lower the bar, it means identifying the needs of students and providing the necessary resources and support to ensure challenging educational opportunities.”

Wiltsie is joined in his victory by incumbent Pulino, who received 2,174 votes, as well as newcomers Jackson, who received 3,279 votes, and Guss, who received 3,172 votes.

The PZC election saw one incumbent, one alternate, and one newcomer elected. As a result of Connecticut’s representation laws, only one of the three Democratic candidates could be elected. Fulton, who received 2,837 votes, released a brief statement on Facebook regarding her victory.

“Thank you Middletown,” Fulton wrote. “Thank you to my framily (friends/family) for supporting me through this. Congrats to my SlateMates Debra and Emily on your wins for #BOE…Middletown let’s work!”

Giuliano, who received 2,248 votes, served as the mayor of Middletown from 2005 to 2011. He also released a short statement on his personal Facebook account.

“Thank you Middletown voters,” Giuliano wrote.

Incumbent Fazzino, the current Vice-Chair of the Commission, has not yet released a statement on his victory.

Devoto, the incumbent five-year Chair of the commission, received the least votes in the election. He ran as an independent candidate in order to try and give the Democrats a de-facto supermajority on the Commission but was unsuccessful in his bid. He has yet to release a statement.

c/o Middletown Press

c/o Middletown Press

The race for PZC alternate was less competitive, as party representation rules require that the seat be filled by a Republican. Thompkins and Fallon were competing to replace Republican Quatina Frazer. Thompkins, who works as a staff nurse with the US Department of Veterans Affairs, has not yet released a statement regarding her victory.

There were also two referenda questions on the ballot, both amending the Middletown city charter. The first question dealt with establishing clearer ethical standards for local officials, uniform procedures for boards and commissions, greater accountability in the budgeting process, non-partisan council positions, and equal employment opportunities in the charter.

The second proposed the transfer of all hiring and supervision of many employees in Middletown Public Schools from the Mayor to the Board of Education. This only applies to positions such as custodial, cafeteria, secretarial, and office staff, among others, that do not require certification from the State Board of Education.

While the first question passed with overwhelming support (over 76% of votes in the affirmative), voters were more divided on the second question, but it still passed with around 57% voting in favor of the proposal. This split is likely due, in part, to concerns about unionization under the amended charter.

Opponents of the second revision claim that it will divide the local city worker’s union—American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Local 466—into those employed by the City and those employed by the Board of Education. This, opponents argue, would make collective bargaining more difficult. In a statement on Facebook, the Middletown Police Union came out against the question.

“If you live in Middletown, please support our sisters and brothers in AFSCME Local 466 by voting NO on Referendum Question #2,” the post read. “If approved, this question will break up Local 466 bargaining unit into separate units. A yes’ vote will diminish the Local’s bargaining power, and cost city taxpayers and students more in the long run by giving more power to the Board of Education.”

Despite this, Local 466 released no statement regarding the ballot questions or the BOE or PZC elections. The Middletown Republican Town Committee opposed both questions one and two, while the Middletown Democrats supported both.

The PZC will have its first meeting with the newly elected Commissioners and Alternate on Nov. 10, and the BOE will have its first meeting with its newly elected members on Nov. 16. The vacant Alternate seat left by Fulton’s election will be filled by a vote of the Middletown Common Council, although there is no set date for this vote.

“Congratulations to [Middletown Democrats] for a clean sweep last night, and thank you to Middletown voters for passing both charter revision questions,” Mayor Ben Florsheim ’14 wrote in a tweet on Nov. 3. “[This is a] big mandate for continuing our progress together.”

Sam Hilton can be reached at shilton@wesleyan.edu.


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