Election 2019: Ridgefield voters head to polls on Tuesday
Headlined by a lively contest at the top of the ballot — Democratic First Selectman Rudy Marconi challenged by Republican Dick Moccia, a former mayor of Norwalk — Ridgefield’s municipal election will have 49 candidates competing to fill 31 town offices.
Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 5, and voting will be from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the town’s three traditional district polling places:
District I, East Ridge Middle School, 10 East Ridge Road;
District II, Scotts Ridge Middle School, 750 North Salem Road;
District III, Yanity Gymnasium, 60 Prospect Street.
“It’s wonderful to have a competition at the top,” said Republican Town Committee Chairwoman Hope Wise.
She’s optimistic about Moccia’s run for first selectman.
“We have a wonderful candidate — he’s experienced, he knows how to campaign. So this has been fun,” Wise said.
“We’ve gotten a great response. So many people come in with the thumbs up. We have a great guy,” she said. “We’ve gone door-to-door, a lot of meet-and-greets ... Competition is always good.”
Democratic Town Committee Chairman Alex Harris is very pleased to have Marconi on the ballot.
“Having Rudy at the top of our ticket is a major advantage for Ridgefield Democrats, but more importantly a huge benefit for all of Ridgefield,” Harris said. “When Democrats recruited our slate for this election, we set Rudy as the moral example for the type of person we wanted for each slot on the ticket.
“Though this is the largest, most diverse and differentiated slate of candidates we have ever fielded, we are deeply gratified that in the crucially important attributes of honesty, integrity, diligence and selfless dedication to public service, each candidates reflects Rudy’s superb example.”
Democrats have been “canvasing, phone banking post carding, event planning,” according to Harris.
“Except for the Jewish holidays, we’ve campaigned every single day since early September,” he said.
On Election Day, registered voters will have to show identification entering polling places, and they’ll be checked off voter lists as they go in to fill out ballots for optical scan machines — coloring in little ovals to specify the candidates they’re voting for.
“At polling places, you have to have ID,” said Democratic Registrar of Voters Cindy Bruno. “It has to include two of four things: your name, address, signature, picture — and something needs to have at least two of them, at a minimum, the same piece of ID.
“Your license has all four,” she added. “A credit card will have your name and your signature, a student ID with picture and name is sufficient.”
A total of 18,589 voters were registered in Ridgefield as of late morning Monday, Oct. 28, with just more than a third unaffiliated and a little less than a third in each of the major parties. The breakdown was: unaffiliated voters, 6,655 (35.8 percent); Republicans, 5,859 (31.5 percent); Democrats, 5,800 (31.2 percent); and 275 (1.5 percent) members of minor parties including Greens, Libertarians, the Independent Party and Working Families Party.
Generally, the last day for voters registration was Tuesday, Oct. 29. But people whose right to vote in Ridgefield matures after that date — they turn 18, move to town, or become a U.S. citizen after Oct. 29 — can go to the registrars of voters office in town hall on Monday, Nov. 4, from 8:30 to 4:30 and register.
And, there will be Election Day registration on Tuesday, Nov. 5, in the registrars of voters office in town hall from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. — all the hours that the polls are open.
“You register and vote in our office,” Bruno said of Election Day registration. “You have to have a valid, current ID that shows you’re a Ridgefield resident.”
To check whether they’re registered and the polling place where they vote, people can go online to the Town of Ridgefield website: www.ridgefieldct.org and go to “government” at the top of the page, then “Town Departments” and under that “Registrar of Voters,” which will have links.
“Go to Registrar of Voters, click on ‘Am I registered?’ You put in town, last name, first name, date of birth — it’s actually a link to the secretary of the state,” Bruno said. “It comes up and tells you that you are registered, what party your with, and what your district is and polling place is, including the address...
“There’s a copy of the ballot on our page, which is good for people to review in advance,” Bruno added. “It’s a double-sided ballot, 38 columns.”
For people who won’t be in town on Election Day, the town clerk’s office handles absentee balloting.
“As of Friday (Oct. 25) we’d issued 299 ballots, and we received back 161,” Town Clerk Wendy Lionetti said.
The town clerk’s office in town hall is open Monday through Friday, 8:30 to 4:30.
And this Saturday, Nov. 2, from 9 a.m. to noon, the town clerk will offer special office hours for absentee balloting.
Many people who are going to be out of town on Election Day stop in and vote by absentee right in the town clerk’s office — filling out the ballot then.
Others get absentee ballots ahead of time, and return them.
“Some people are at school, so they will send us the application. You can fill out an application and sign it and scan it and email it to us, and upon receipt we’ll send the ballot to you at your address at college,” Lionetti said.
“When they sign the absentee ballot application, it’s basically an affidavit, saying I am who I say I am, under penalty of perjury,” she added.
“The last day one can come into get a ballot is Monday, Nov. 4, because if you’re around on Tuesday you can go to the polls.”
For more information on absentee ballots in Ridgefield, people may email firstname.lastname@example.org or call the town clerk’s office 203-431-2783.
Boards and commissions
Seats on all town boards and commissions are on the ballot, from Board of Selectmen, Board of Education and Board of Finance to land use agencies like the new independent Inland Wetlands Board, the Planning and Zoning Commission that it was separated from, and the Zoning Board of Appeals.
Also on the ballot are the Board of Police Commissioners and Board of Assessment Appeals.
Three paid town hall jobs are elected — town clerk, treasurer and tax collector — but only the treasurer’s office is contested this year, with Democratic incumbent Treasurer Molly McGeehin challenged by Republican Colette Kabasakalian.
Lionetti and Tax Collector Jane Berendsen-Hill, both Republicans, are running for re-election uncontested.
On many boards and commissions several seats are open, and more candidates are nominated by the two parties than there are seats to be filled. In these contests the number of candidates a voter may choose is listed below the name of the board or commission, and above the names of the individual candidates running.
“The only question people come up with: We have multiple openings, you can vote for any number up to the listed number; up to four for Board of Selectmen, up to three for Board of Finance,” Bruno said. “You don’t have to vote for the max.”
Selectmen, finance, schools
After the Marconi-Moccia race for first selectman, the Board of Selectmen has four seats — all up for election. Five candidates are running. Each voter may select up to four — and four of the five will be elected.
The Board of Selectmen candidates include three Republicans and two Democrats. The Republicans are incumbents Maureen Kozlark and Robert Hebert, and Joseph Savino, a Police Commission member who has served previously as a selectman and also on the Planning and Zoning Commission. The two Democrats running for Board of Selectmen are incumbent Barbara Manners and Sean Connelly, who has been serving on the Board of Finance. Democratic Selectman Steve Zemo is not seeking re-election.
Three seats are up for election on the five-member Board of Finance. Voters may choose three from among four candidates: two Democrats, longtime Chairman Dave Ulmer and Karen Odgen; and two Republicans, Greg Kabasakalian and former school board member David Cordisco.
The Board of Education is a nine-member board with five seats open, and seven candidates running. Voters may choose up to five. Of the seven candidates, two are Democrats: incumbent Jonathan Steckler and Kenneth Sjoberg; and five are Republicans: Brian P. Ward, Sean McEvoy, Robert Ceccarini, Elizabeth Floegel and Rachel Ruggeri.
Land use agencies
Four seats on the nine-member Planning and Zoning Commission are to be filled. Six candidates are running. One is an incumbent: Republican John Katz. The two other Republicans seeking commission seats are Carl Kristoffersen and Dan Cohagen. Democrats running for the commission are Robert Handrick, Susan Consentino and Ben Nneji.
The new Inland Wetlands Board will have seven members. Four are running without contest for four-year seats — Democrats Tracey Miller and Susan Baker and Republicans Alan Pilch and Patricia Sesto.
And four candidates are competing for three two-years seats on the new Inland Wetlands Board — Democrats Kory Salomone and David Tatge, and Republicans Carson Fincham and Tim Bishop.
The Police Commission has two four-year terms and one two-year vacancy to be filled.
Three candidates are competing for the two full four-year terms, Republican incumbent Tom Reynolds and two Democrats, incumbent George Kain and Issy Caporale, a retired department dispatcher. Seeking to fill a two-year seat on the board are incumbent Democrat Nicholas Perna and Republican John McNicholas, who has been serving as a Zoning Board of Appeals alternate.
The Zoning Board of Appeals has Democratic incumbent Sky Cole running unopposed for a five-year term that begins in 2019, and no one running for a five-year term that begins in 2020, while Democrat Joseph Pastore III and Republican George Regnery face off to fill out a two-year vacancy.
And there are three contests for Zoning Board of Appeals alternate seats. Democrat Aaron Lockwood and Republican Robert Cousins are contesting a five-year alternate seat that begins in 2019. And Democrat Robert Byrnes and Republican Marc Fleuette are competing against each other for two different alternate seats — a one-year vacancy, and a five-year term that begins in 2020.
For Board of Assessment Appeals, there’s a head-to-head contest for a full four-year seat with Democrat Stan Galanski challenging Republican incumbent Robert Lavelle. And Andrew Ziemba, a Republican, is running uncontested to fill a two-year vacancy.