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Monday, November 07, 2005

Municipal Elections: Newington

I can't let the election season go by without writing about my old hometown of Newington. I grew up there, and, though I've lived in Enfield for most of my adult life, Newington still seems like home to me. How fortuitous, then, that Newington's politics this year are a blast from the past.

Town Statistics
  • Population: 29,695

  • Registered Voters: 20,013
        Democrats: 8,268
        Republicans: 3,798
        Independents: 7,964

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

  • State Senate District: 9 (Sen. Biagio “Billy” Ciotto-D)

  • State House Districts: 24 (Rep. Tim O’Brien-D) , 27 (Rep. Sandy Nafis-D), 29 (Rep. Antonio Guerrera-D)

  • 2004 Presidential Vote:
        John Kerry: 9,365
        George W. Bush: 6,252

  • 2004 Congressional Vote:
        John Larson (D): 10,478
        John Halstead (R): 3,519

  • Form of Government: Mayor/council/manager

  • Town Council: 9 members. Controlled by Democrats

  • Mayor: Thomas McBride (D)


Background

Newington has great political campaigns. Every election season, there's a blizzard of yard signs and enormous billboards on lawns and street corners all over town. The town Republicans and Democrats are well-organized, well-funded and very competitive, despite the registration advantage held by Democrats.

This year sees one of the town's most popular mayors, Rodney Mortensen, returning to the political arena after a decade off. Mortensen, who won in 1993 as a Republican but later left his party to win a second term as an independent, runs a landmark restaurant on the Berlin Turnpike. He is running for mayor as an independent against newcomer Mark Pappas (R) and deputy mayor John Kelly (D) (Mayor McBride, whose carpet store is just down the road from Mortensen's restaurant, isn't seeking another term).

At issue is the looming property revaluation. Mortensen and Pappas are both running as fiscal conservatives, while Kelly favors spending more money on improvements to the town.

The nine-member town council, which was re-elected in its entirety in 2003, will be changing as well. Several members are stepping dowm after their term ends this year.

Prediction

Democrats currently hold a huge fundraising lead, and will probably retain the town council. The mayor's race is anybody's guess, though. I'm pulling for Mortensen to win. The town was well-governed during his time in office, and, I have to say, his restaurant is my very favorite place to eat. Having a great restaurant doesn't make one a good politician, of course: but it can't hurt.

I have to think that Pappas and Mortensen will split the conservative vote, but that Pappas will come in a distant third. Whether Kelly or Mortensen will win is entirely up in the air. I do know that the DSCC targeted Newington for assistance: so they must be a bit worried about Kelly's chances.

We'll find out tomorrow how it all shakes out. I'll be posting election results from all the towns I've covered and more as they come in. Don't forget to go out and vote!

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