With the required 44 signatures on Nominating Petition documents for the Secretary of State, 24-year-old Alex DeAngelo is one step closer to throwing his hat into the ring to run as an independent candidate for First Selectmen.
DeAngelo and his newly-formed campaign team have been canvassing the community center, local restaurants, and neighborhoods drumming up local support and a minimum of 44 registered Orange voters to sign a petition to permit his candidacy as an independent candidate. To complete the registration process with the state, DeAngelo must submit his paperwork to the Town Clerk by August 9.
Describing himself as a “huge underdog” in the race which includes 12-year Republican incumbent Jim Zeoli and Democratic nominee Margaret Novicki, a former United Nations delegate who led peace keeping missions in Africa, DeAngelo believes he is a much-needed fresh face with new ideas to lead the town. An Orange native, he went the through the Orange school system and Amity Senior High and always considered running for First Selectmen. “I’ve lived in Orange forever and care about it and want what’s best for the town. There’s no better time,” he said.
Newly graduated from Southern Connecticut State University with a BS in science and sports management, and a resume that includes two professional internships with the Kansas City Chiefs and the Philadelphia 76ers, DeAngelo hopes his youth will actually work in his favor. A self-described “millennial,” DeAngelo plans to target this demographic, one he says has largely been ignored by town officials. His campaign team of around 15 includes many young people. “Millennials are our thing, we want them to be more involved in the town,” he said. “They are the future of Orange so we want to get their ideas and see what they want for the town.”
He points to town events like the performers in the summer concert series on the green, as being out-dated. “I would have a different line up for the concerts that would appeal to younger people,” he said. “The annual carnival, Fourth of July celebration and Country Fair, all are good, and I’d bring more activities to town for younger ages.”
His internships with professional sports organizations provided experience working in a multimillion dollar industry and he believes he can bring some of that experience to running the town with fiscal responsibility. He has also served as a student body president in college and was the manager of the baseball, basketball and hockey teams and equipment manager for the football team at Amity.
DeAngelo has nothing but praise for First Selectman James Zeoli but he hopes as a young candidate, he will appeal to new voters, recent college graduates and those still living in their parents’ homes. “Mr. Zeoli didn’t get re-elected so many times because he was doing anything wrong,” DeAngelo said. “But I definitely want to raise some eyebrows and get our voice out there. People will get it that the millennials are growing up and hopefully we can work together for the greater good of Orange.” Acknowledging that purchasing a home in Orange is too expensive for many millennials, DeAngelo hopes to find ways to make the town more affordable, possibly by bringing in new businesses.
“I grew up on Smith Farm Road, right off the Boston Post Road and I’ve seen businesses come and go there – mostly go,” he said. He also points to the nearly vacant Firelite Plaza and property on Marsh Hill Road once eyed to be a Stew Leonard’s store location as areas of concern. “I want to explore what went wrong with the Stew Leonard’s deal and present alternatives or possible uses for the land because unused land is not essential—more business would be more beneficial to Orange residents.”
If his dreams of becoming First Selectman don’t work out, DeAngelo plans to continue in his current job as a project manager at a local construction management firm and will consider getting involved on local boards. “I’ll try for the top and see what happens,” he said. “Residents should have more of a voice in what’s done in town. My campaign is going to run on what the people of Orange want and we’ll see if we can make it happen.”
By Laura Fantarella, Orange Town News Correspondent