This is the first in an occasional series about town politics. There will be more about different towns as the election approaches. Email me if you want me to write about your town.
On Monday, I was driving home when I saw a large red sign posted on one of the busiest corners in town. On it was painted, in white letters, the URL "EnfieldDeservesBetter.com."
Excitedly, I pointed out the sign to my beleaguered wife, who took one look at it and shrugged. Another ad, big deal.
To me, it was a big deal. It was definitely a campaign sign, probably Republican (the town GOP posts red and white signs, Democrats blue and white). The political season was finally on in Enfield.
Population (2003): 45,246
Registered Voters (2004): 26,603
Minor Parties: 61
U.S. Congressional District: 2nd (Rob Simmons-R)
State Senate District: 7 (John Kissel-R)
State House Districts: 58 (Kathy Tallarita-D), 59 (Steve Jarmoc-D)
2004 Pres. Vote:
2004 Cong. Vote:
Rob Simmons (R): 8,948
Jim Sullivan (D): 8,844
Form of Government: Council/Manager
Currently controlled by Democrats. The council majority elects the mayor, in this case Democrat Patrick Tallarita.
In 2003, Democrats finally won a clear majority on the town council, following several successive terms of Republican control. Democrats want to retain their majority, while Republicans, following several retirements, are putting forth a renewed, more youthful slate in the hopes of recapturing the council.
Republicans were defeated two years ago largely because of the effect of the Enfield Taxpayers' Party, a conservative group who wants to lower taxes at all costs. The two ETP candidates and the Republicans combined received more votes than the Democrats, but the split in the town's conservatives gave the Democrats the win. The effect of the ETP this year won't be as great, as they are running only one candidate, not two.
Republicans are running on the idea that Enfield "deserves better," although some of the problems they cite on their website were initiated during the period of Republican control. Democrats are promising more of the same.
Issues will include taxes, budget matters, infrastructure, economics and possibly a new library plan that was recently unveiled.
The past two years have generally been good ones for Enfield. Several large businesses have moved into town, road improvements have been made without too much pain, and tax increases, while steady, haven't been particularly onerous. This will help Democrats.
Still, the Republicans will do much better now that the ETP seems a little weaker, although their reluctance to engage the ETP directly (Republicans backed out of an ETP-backed candidate forum) may hurt them. Minority Leader Scott Kaupin, who would become mayor if the Republicans won, is well-known and well-liked.
It'll be closer than 2003, but the Democrats will probably hold on.
Update (Thanks, MikeCT)
MyTownHall.info has interviews with most of the candidates.