Election 2019 recap: Democrats take 23 seats in Ridgefield, GOP wins 12
Jubilant Democrats celebrated a sweep in Ridgefield Tuesday night.
“A great night for Ridgefield Democrats,” First Selectman Rudy Marconi told the exuberant throng jammed into party headquarters on Main Street. “Each and every person in this room worked so hard. Thank you!”
Marconi, a 20-year incumbent, had defeated his Republican challenger Dick Moccia, a former mayor of Norwalk, by a nearly two-to-one margin — 5,099 votes to Moccia’s 2,592.
“I just congratulated Rudy on his win,” Moccia said outside after an election night visit to Democratic headquarters.
“I told him I’d be at his swearing-in,” Moccia said, “because we want to bring everyone together.”
“He was very gracious,” George Kain, a Democrat re-elected to the Police Commission, said after Moccia left.
One race was so close it will go an automatic recount. Two Republicans competing for the last open seat seat on Board of Finance were with three votes of each other, with Greg Kabasakalian at 3,700 and David Cordisco, a former school board member, at 3,697. The recanvass will be at the Recreation Center on Tuesday, Nov. 12, starting at 9 a.m.
The two Democrats running for finance board, longtime chairman Dave Ulmer and Karen Ogden, were both elected comfortably.
Dick Moccia (R)
Sean Connelly (D)
Joseph Savino (R)
Maureen Koziark (R)
Robert Hebert (R)
Bolded names indicate winners. Vote numbers are unofficial.
And Democrats were celebrating a clean sweep.
“Twenty-three of twenty-three is incredible,” Marconi said.
Ridgefield Democrats won two of three seats that were up for election on the Board of Finance and two of the four seats up on the Board of Selectmen. Democrats Jonathan Steckler and Ken Sjoberg also won a pair of Board of Education seats, joining Republican newcomers Elizabeth Floegel, Rachel Ruggeri, and Sean McEvoy.
The Republicans fielded 28 candidates, and 12 came away with board of commission seats — but many of those races were uncontested.
Republicans who claimed victory in contested races are as follows: John Katz (Planning and Zoning), Maureen Kozlark and Bob Hebert (Board of Selectmen), Pat Sesto and Alan Pilch (Inland Wetlands Board, four-year term), and Tim Bishop (Inland Wetlands Board, two-year term).
Marconi and Ridgefield’s other newly elected selectmen — Democrats Barbara Manners and Sean Connelly, and Republicans Maureen Kozlark and Bob Hebert — won four years in office.
But Marconi was thinking about next year.
“Everyone here,” Marconi told the headquarters crowd. “This is just the beginning of 2020!”
Moccia, who has lived in town five years, said Marconi’s deep Ridgefield roots were tough to overcome.
“I thought two things: lifelong resident, and me being not so long a resident, people felt I was a newcomer, coming in,” he said.
“I tried to re-energize the Republican Party,” he added. “I met a lot of great people. If I’d been in town a little longer, where people knew me better, if might have been a different race.”
Accompanying Moccia on his visit to Democratic headquarters was Republican Town Chairwoman Hope Wise, a former Republican Registrar of Voters, school board member, and special education advocate — who said she the election marked the end of her career in politics.
“This is it,” Wise said. “We have a new town committee starting in January. I’ve had 30 years of fun and change to town.”
Moccia said he, too, was planning to make this is last run for office in a career that included service on Ridgefield’s Parking Authority and Board of Finance, as well as four terms as mayor of Norwalk and a variety of other positions there.
“This is it,” he said..
“Would I like to have done better? Yes,” Moccia said. “Now I’ll have more time for Founders Hall.”
Marconi paid tribute to Moccia after his visit.
“Dick just came over and graciously conceded and congratulated me on the win. He was very gentlemanly about it and professional. I appreciated that.” Marconi said. “I’m very excited about the victory and happy to look forward to serving Ridgefield for the next four years.
“We had another strong turnout,” said Marconi. “I think everyone on our team did a great job and I think our campaign was legitimate and to the point on key issues that are facing Ridgefield.”
“This night didn’t happen in one year,” said Democratic Town Committee chairman Alex Harris. “It represents 20 years of building the credibility of Democrats. That starts with Rudy, and with Barbara,” he said.
In addition to Marconi’s longtime running mate, Selectwoman Barbara Manners, Harris mentioned new Democratic Selectman Sean Connelly, who’d moved up from the finance board.
He also thanked Democratic officials who were stepping down — Selectman Steve Zemo, finance board member Jessica Mancini, school board member Fran Walton.
Among the happy Democrats is Izzy Caporale, elected to the Police Commission after serving 11 years as a dispatcher in the RIdgefield Police Department and 22 years in the Coast Guard before that.
“Oh, my God! Words can’t even describe how I feel right now,” Caporale said. “I’m so excited and ready to start working for the guys.”
Re-elected finance board chairman Dave Ulmer was at the other end of the spectrum, low-key as ever.
“I’m glad to see the turnout,” he said when asked for thoughts on his victory. “I hope we get the saem turnout in budget season.”
Another new face will be Planning and ZOning COmmission member Ben Nneji.
“I strongly feel residential areas should remain residential,” he said.”If any development comes, it’s very important we involve the neighbors.”
Re-elected town treasurer Molly McGeehin gave her husband, Nick Paulish, appreciation for service above and beyond the call of duty for time he’d put in, marching up and down in front the polls wearing a sandwich sign for her candidacy.
“He was there fomr 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.,” she said. “He was asleep.”
Asked about her re-election, McGeehin said, “I’m just so happy that I won, and I think it’s the best financial result for the Town of Ridgefield.”
“We just got the absentee ballot numbers and it looks like everyone of our candidates has won — 23-0, so we couldn’t be happier with the results,” said Alex Harris, chair of Ridgefield’s Democratic Town Committee. “I think our people and their platforms and experience resonated with the voters. ... I was at the polls earlier and heard over and over again how impressed voters were with the campaign we ran. And that tells you a lot. How you campaign is how you’re able to govern. And I think we’re going to have a continued positive, successful government here in Ridgefield.”
At Democratic headquarters word got out that there was not only an election to celebrate, but the evening was also Rudy and Peggy Marconi’s wedding anniversary.
“Yes, we’ve been together 41 years and we’ve been married 38,” said Ridgefield’s first lady.
“My only fear is he’s going to run again — I’ll kill him!”