Monday, October 10, 2005

Municipal Elections: West Hartford

Apparently, the folks in West Hartford don't just drive big cars and live in big houses: they also have enormous yard signs. 4'x8'... wow. From political feuds to shopping malls to the size of the average resident's ego, West Hartford always operates on a grand scale.

West Hartford

Town Statistics

  • Population (2003): 61,426

  • Registered Voters (est.): 38,800
        Democratic: 16,000
        Republican: 8,000
        Unaffiliated: 14,800

  • U.S. Congressional District: 1st (Rep. John Larson-D)

  • State Senate Districts: 5th (Sen. John Harris-D)

  • State House Districts: 18 (Rep. Andrew Flesichmann-D); 19 (Rep. Robert Farr-R); 20 (Rep. David McClusky-D)

  • 2004 Presidential Vote:
        John Kerry: 21,612
        George W. Bush: 11,641

  • 2004 Congressional Vote:
        John Larson (D): 23,169
        John Halstead (R): 7,536

  • Form of government: Council/manager

  • Town Council: Controlled by Democrats

  • Mayor: Scott Silfka (D)

Election 2005

Apart from oversize yard signs, the 2005 election will be interesting to watch because of two independents. Normally, independent candidates, while interesting, don't gather many votes. This may also be the case in West Hartford, but the presence of at least one of these two independents may help to slant the race in a certain direction.

Joseph Visconti was one of the loudest and most recognizable detractors of the Blue Back Square development project, and helped to lead the ultimately unsuccessful fight against it. Blue Back Square is a redevelopment project in West Hartford Center which was approved by a large majority of voters. Twice. If you aren't a West Hartford resident, that's really all you need or want to know about it. Visconti initially tried to get on to the Republican ticket as a candidate for town council, but couldn't muster enough votes at the town convention. He is now running as an independent.

What does this mean? Well, it might mean that those people in town (and they do exist) who still despise Blue Back Square might vote for him instead of one of the Republican candidates (the project was hatched by the Democratic town council), feeling that the WHGOP has abandoned them (which it has). This could help secure another two years of Democratic control. Given the large majorities who voted for the project, it's unlikely that Visconti will actually win a seat on the council.

The other independent candidate is a Republican who was often criticized for voting with Democrats. She decided to take herself off the Republican ticket before the convention. She probably won't win, either. There is no shortage of actual Democrats in West Hartford.


What we seem to be seeing in West Hartford is a rudderless, fractured Republican Party competing against a creaky, top-heavy Democratic monolith. West Hartford's political landscape is very like Connecticut's in miniature.

Given that, Democrats ought to retain control of the council with ease.


Nate said...

Two quick things:

Though the town council (along with the town's citizens) is overwhelmingly Democratic, the project was approved by the council unanimously, Dems & Republicans alike. This was not just a Democrat-backed project. Not that you claimed otherwise, I just wanted to make that clear.

Second, citizens of West Hartford have large egos? I lived there for a year, and I'm not sure what you're basing that on. Most of my neighbors and fellow townspeople were very involved, opinionated, and proud of their town, and that's what makes it such a great place (and my favorite town in the state). I don't know if that has anything to do with ego, though.

MikeCT said...

I agree that the dynamics of this race are interesting in that they might push two out of three Republicans off their minority seats on the Town Council. I wouldn't assume Barbara Carpenter has a poor chance, given that she is an incumbent. Also, Visconti doesn't need the support of a "large majority" of the voters to get a minority seat - just a modest minority.

Joseph Visconti and Barbara Carpenter, the two independents, each have Web sites. The Hartford Advocate profiles Visconti. (Carpenter supported Blue Back Square, by the way.) The West Hartford Democrats have an utterly useless and outdated site. Here are the incumbents on the Council and Board of Education. The Democratic Council incumbents are running again. Only one Republican incumbent ran again, and they had a hard time scraping up some candidates.

Too bad the Working Families Party or Greens aren't running their own candidates here - they could present a more interesting and progressive alternative.

Anonymous said...

Blumenthal isn't running for Governor - no shock to anyone I'm sure, but he announced it officially on 99.1!

Genghis Conn said...


Good catch, Anonymous. The AP is running an article, too.

Anonymous said...

I don't know about the "with ease" part of a democratic win. As a resident of West Hartford, I can attest to the fact that the electorate is well-informed and involved - and while the town is overwhelmingly Democratic, the number of people who blindly vote along party lines is decreasing rapidly. While the Dems have a strong and capable incumbent team, the Sinatros have (a) more money than god and (b) HUGE name recognition and ties to the community that cross all political affiliations (particularly youth sports). The last is also true of Zullo who is head of the All Sports Council and practically the heart and soul of Celebrate! West Hartford. There is also general consensus that the Rs desperately need a little grounding in reality, and these are the guys to do it.....I think there is everything to play for in West Hartford.

Anonymous said...

im confused; is this site really about local politics?

i dont think it is. i think it's a cover for your hidden liberal agenda.

why cant you make your points without slandering west hartford residents? why do you mention they drive big cars, own big homes and have big egos for any other reason than to lobby support for w/e your agenda is?

im sorry you dont make as much money as you think you deserve, or you cant afford the car you think you deserve, or god forbid you have a peronsality that doesnt cater to someone else's liking.

but you know what? these are all YOUR problems; not west hartfords.

try to keep your disgust of successful people to yourself; otherwise you might drive away people you could otherwise influence to support your socialist dogma.