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Bush and Dukakis take town primaries 25 years ago

Approximately 18% of Ridgefield’s 6,674 registered Republicans went to the polls to vote in the presidential primary, the March 31, 1988, Press reported.

A total of 71% voted for Vice President George Bush. Sen. Robert Dole trailed with 11% and Pat Robertson got less than 1% of the GOP vote.

John Frey and Josette Williams, town co-coordinators for Bush, wrote letters to The Press extolling the vice president’s experience as a member of Congress, as U.N. ambassador, as GOP national chairman, as director of the CIA, and as ambassador to China.

Among the town’s 3,038 Democrats, 32% voted, and of those 62% picked Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis. Jesse Jackson was next with 25%. Sen. Al Gore followed with 5%, and Paul Simon and Gary Hart won 2.9% and 1.2% of the vote, respectively. The Democratic votes represented a big change for Ridgefield Democrats. In 1984, 62% voted for Gary Hart and 26% for Walter Mondale. Jesse Jackson won only 6.5% of the vote.

Dick Venus, Ridgefield’s Mr. Democrat, was showered with affection and praise at a dinner given in honor of his retirement from the Democratic Town Committee. In addition to serving 24 years on the town committee, Mr. Venus was the town’s postmaster for more than 20 years and had been elected to the Board of Selectmen for three terms. Mr. Venus was also the author of a Press history column, Dick’s Dispatch. At the time of his retirement dinner, he had just completed his 300th article.

Ridgefield experienced the smallest yearly property value growth in a decade, according to the 1987 figures released by town Assessor Al Garzi. Mr. Garzi said the town’s tax base grew by only 1.35%. The last time growth dipped below 3% was in 1982. “The major factor in this less-than-average growth rate,” Mr. Garzi said, “was a slowdown in the local real estate market coupled with the fact that Ridgefield’s top personal property accounts had no new purchases.”

Nancy M. Tracy, award-winning journalist for the Hartford Courant and mother of David H. Tracy and Laurie Ann and Jennifer Lyle Tracy of Ridgefield, died. Mrs. Tracy wrote investigative features for the Courant, including an article on premature aging disease for which she received a Pulitzer Prize nomination.

Raymond Simonson, a retired electrician and Ridgefield resident for 32 years, died at 81. He was survived by a son, Robert, of Ridgefield.

A Ridgefield construction company that was started by an Italian immigrant in the 1920s and grew to be one of the largest firms of its kind in the country was acquired by an international construction company. The majority of shares in The Morganti Group, a company that started in Ridgefield as John Morganti and Sons, was purchased by the Athens-based Consolidated Contractors Co. The announcement was made jointly by Morganti President Robert J. Morganti and CCC President Said T. Khoury.

Ridgefield’s 34 union policemen “overwhelmingly rejected” a proposed contract settlement with the town, said union president Donald Monckton. “Of course, I’m disappointed,” said First Selectman Sue Manning, who had been personally involved in the negotiations. “Don Monckton and I are meeting next week to discuss where to go from here.”

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