Governor to state representative: Voters will decide on 32 candidates on Election Day
An Election Day avalanche of decision-making awaits voters: 32 candidates seeking 12 offices ranging from U.S. senator and congressman to state representative, state senator, governor and a host of statewide positions — attorney general, secretary of the state, comptroller and treasurer. Three local candidates for judge of probate and registrars of voters are unopposed. Following the candidate choices are 12 ballot questions on topics that include the town’s $48-million sewer plant renovation, nine proposed Ridgefield charter revisions, and two amendments to the state constitution. (See related story.)
Voting is Tuesday, Nov. 6, from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Ridgefield’s four districts vote at three different polling places: District One votes at East Ridge Middle School; District Two and District Four both vote at Scotts Ridge Middle School; District Three votes at Yanity Gymnasium.
People unsure where they vote — or if they’re registered — can go to the town’s website, ridgefieldct.org, look under the “Government” tab for “Departments” then go to Registrars of Voters, and click on “Am I registered to vote?” It will tell them if they’re registered, and the address of their polling place.
On Friday, Oct. 26, Ridgefield’s registrars of voters reported 18,475 people registered to vote: 6,577 unaffiliated voters; 6,006 Republicans; 5,649 Democrats; and 243 in smaller parties such as Libertarians and Greens.
More voter sign-ups were anticipated before the Oct. 30 deadline to register.
People who gain the right to vote — by reaching age 18, becoming citizens, or moving to town — between Oct. 30 and Election Day may register in town hall’s registrars’ office until 5 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 5, the day before the election. They must provide proof of their voting rights maturing during that period.
People who miss the deadlines can participate through “Election Day registration” from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 6.
“Individuals may register and vote on Election Day in the Registrars of Voters Office if they meet the eligibility requirements for voting and are not already registered to vote in the municipality,” the registrars said. “A current valid ID and proof of current residential address must be presented.”
It may take some time.
“That process will take them longer than registering in advance and going to the polling place,” said Democratic Registrar of Voters Cindy Bruno.
Property owners who aren’t registered Ridgefield voters but pay taxes in town may vote off the grand list — but only for the WPCA Referendum question, the $48 million sewer plant renovation. Property owner balloting will be at Yanity Gym from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Election Day, or in the town clerk’s office up to Monday, Nov. 5, at 4:30 p.m.
People unable to go to the polls in person, may contact the town clerk’s office at 203-431-2783 about getting an absentee ballot.
Absentee ballots are available at the town clerk’s office in town hall, Monday through Friday, 8:30 to 4:30.
Special absentee voting hours are offered Saturday, Nov. 3, from 9 a.m. to noon in town hall.
“Absentee voting only on Saturday,” said Town Clerk Wendy Lionetti. “We’re not going to have any other business that day.”
Absentee balloting is expected to exceed the total in the last “state offices” election in 2014.
“Well over 1,000 absentee ballots have been issued,” Lionetti said Friday, Oct. 26.
“Four years ago, we had a little over 700,” said Bruno.
Eight different political parties have or are co-endorsing candidates on the ballot.
For governor and lieutenant governor, Democrats Ned Lamont and Susan Bysiewicz, and the Republicans Bob Stefanowski and Joe Markley are each co-endorsed — the Democrats by the Working Families Party, and the Republicans by the Independent Party. Also running governor and lieutenant candidates are: the Libertarian Party’s Rodney Hanscomb and Jeffrey Thibeault; the Amigo Constitution Party, with Mark Stewart Greenstein and John Demetrius; and the Griebel Frank for CT Party, running Oz Griebel and Mone E. Frank.
For U.S. senator, incumbent Democrat Christopher S. Murphy, co-endorsed by the Working Families Party, faces Republican Matthew Corey, Libertarian Richard Lion and Green Party candidate Jeff Russell.
For Congress, Democrat Jim Himes, a five-term incumbent, is being challenged by Republican Harry Arora, who is co-endorsed by the Independent Party.
For state senator, Republican Toni Boucher, a five-term incumbent co-endorsed by the Independent Party, faces Democrat WIll Haskell.
For state representative in the 111th District, which covers most of Ridgefield, 10-term incumbent Republican John Frey, co-endorsed by the Independent Party, is being challenged by Democrat Aimee Berger-Girvalo.
For state representative from the 138th District — which includes Ridgefield north of George Washington Highway and Canterbury Lane, along with parts of Danbury and New Fairfield — Republican incumbent Michael Ferguson faces Democrat Kenneth Gucker.
On the streets
Closest to home for most Ridgefielders is the contest for 111th District state representative, and
both candidates have been out working hard for votes.
“I’ve been doing everything — tons of events. Doors, coffees, you name it. Been very, very busy,” said Republican John Frey.
Democrat Aimee Berger-Girvalo said, “Lots of meet-and-greets, definitely hitting doors and phones every single day. Continuing to meet residents at town events — food trucks, Fall in Love with Ridgefield, those kinds of things, all the civic events.”
What issues are people talking about?
“To varying degrees, it comes down to the economy, jobs and taxes,” John Frey said. “‘No one’s buying my house!’ ‘Who’s moving into Ridgefield?’ ‘Why are all these companies moving out of Connecticut?’ ‘We’ve had all these tax increases, yet we’re still facing deficits!’ ‘Why do we need more money and tolls when we’ve already had these tax increases in the past?’
“They all seem to be all interwoven around the economy,” he said. “People are clued-in and they’re definitely paying attention.”
Berger-Girvalo outlined six “legislative priorities” she’s committed to including: Repairing and growing state finances, infrastructure and economy; protecting the environment; ensuring women’s health and economic equality; preventing gun violence and closing loopholes; improving healthcare accessibility; and strengthening government accountability and transparency.
“There are a wide array of concerns,” she said. “The positions of mine that are resonating most with residents are regarding finances, regarding health care — a very, very big concern, even more than I thought it would be.
“That health care issue is not only about accessibility to health care, but also about women’s health,” she said.
“The environment is coming up a lot. There are number of people who are very concerned about fracking waste being used here in town — in the salt that is used on the roads. There’s a new awareness,” she said.
“Preventing gun violence,” she added. “It feels like it’s a topic that becomes relevant again every time another tragedy happens.”
Both the Republican and Democratic town committees are working hard for their slates.
“I think the top of the ticket is as close of a race as I’ve ever seen for governor,” said Bob Cascella, treasurer of the Republican Town Committee. “The polls keep coming out and the numbers are very, very close. I think it’s going to be a long night waiting for results.
“While we’re focusing on the governor’s race and while we’re in support of all or our candidates, we’re really focused on the three incumbents that serve Ridgefield directly. We get the most people coming into the headquarters looking for signs are looking John Frey signs and Toni Boucher signs. People come in for other signs, including Stefanowski, but they’re always in looking for John Frey and Toni Boucher. These are very important people and I think they’ve done a good job and deserve to be re-elected,” Cascella said.
“The one thing I do hear from people, and it sort of crosses all boundaries, is that there’s a major league concern for the financial state of Connecticut — concern for the long-term debt, concern for the pensions and a lot of the things we’ve saddled ourselves with over the years.”
Democrats are fired up, said Democratic Town Committee chairman Alex Harris.
“We’re very optimistic,” he said. “We have a terrific slate of candidates up and down the ballot. We think that voters are energized and very receptive, and we have been working very hard for a very long time to energize our voters and make sure they get to the polls.
“We’re getting great responses. Aimee and Will and Ken, our local legislative candidates, seem to really be resonating with the voters. We’re working very hard, we’ve got a lot of volunteers who are also working very hard. We think we’ve got a good shot at things.
“The overriding elephant in the room — clearly an elephant — is Donald Trump,” Harris said. “And Connecticut voters and Ridgefield voters are really unhappy with what the Republican Party nationally has become, and what they’re pursuing, and they want to know that state government is going to protect our residents’ civil rights, voting rights, the environment.”