Orange residents are called to vote for their local leaders this fall, with several boards and commissions expected to welcome new faces to their ranks. For the first time in many years, residents will be choosing a new town clerk and a new tax collector, as both Town Clerk Patrick O’Sullivan and Tax Collector Sandra Pierson are retiring.
The election is taking place Tuesday, November 2, at High Plains Community Center. Polls are open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Absentee ballots are available 30 days before the election, starting on Monday, October 4. Voters can vote absentee right up until November 1; the day before the election. Ballots can be returned in person to the Town Clerk’s office in Town Hall during regular business hours or by using the absentee ballot drop-off box near the back entrance of the Town Hall at 617 Orange Center Road.
Running for the tax collector position are Republican Thomas Hurley, a long-time member of the Amity Board of Education who comes with a background in financial planning; and Democrat Mark Moyher, who brings “extensive knowledge of financial software systems and compliance requirements” to the job, according to the Democrats’ campaign website.
Vying for the Town Clerk position are Mary Shaw on the Republican ticket and Margaret Novicki for the Democrats.
Shaw has served as administrative assistant to the First Selectman from 2012-2019, at which point she switched to fulfill the same role for the school superintendent. “As a result of her extensive experience working closely with all Orange municipal offices, Mary is uniquely qualified to serve as Town Clerk,” says her profile on the campaign website.
Novicki, who is currently serving on the Board of Selectmen, also served on the Emergency Management Advisory Council and kept the board – and by extension the townspeople – informed of COVID-19 developments. She has held several managerial positions in the United Nations before retiring in 2017 and returning to her native Orange.
Both the Orange Board of Education and the Orange delegation to the Amity Regional Board of Education will see a turnover, as several long-time volunteers are stepping aside.
On the Amity board, neither Steve DeMaio nor George Howard are running for re-election. Instead, the Republicans are fielding Christina Levere Daddio, assistant director of public affairs at Southern Connecticut State University; and Sean Hartshorn, West Haven police mechanic, and a lifetime resident.
Carla Eichler, incumbent Democrat, is on the ticket for another four-year term, along with Craig Lennon and Dr. Patricia Post. Lennon is Dean of Students at the University of Bridgeport. Dr. Post is retired from her position of associate professor of biology at Albertus Magnus College.
The local Board of Education is losing three of its 10 members. Charles Flynn is running for the Board of Selectmen; Christian Young and Kimberley Browe are stepping aside. Vice Chairman Jeff Cap is running to return to the board. The Republican is Chief Information Officer for Newman Architects and a former technology teacher. He is a Boy Scout leader. His running mates are elementary school teacher Ronnette Pompano James, who served as Peck Place PTO president; and Attorney Tatiana Messina Mullen. Mullen grew up in Orange and is senior assistant state’s attorney for the Connecticut State Division of Criminal Justice.
The Democrats are fielding Carmen Rodriguez, retired educator and administrator in New Haven, who was appointed to fill Mary Welander’s seat. Also on the ballot are Attorney Jared Millbrandt and Hamden Middle School teacher Liz Tremper.
Three members of the five-member Town Plan & Zoning Commission are up for re-election and all three are seeking another term. They are Chairman Oscar Parente, Kevin Cornell and Thomas Torrenti, all Republicans. Challenging them on the Democratic ticket are Dan Fitzmaurice and Mike Muttitt. Paul Kaplan (D) and Judy Smith ® are not up for re-election until 2023.
Three members of the six-member Board of Finance are seeking re-election, namely Democrats Pat Romano and PJ Shanley; and Republican Joseph Nuzzo. In addition to Romano and Shanley, Democrat Kevin McNabola is running for a spot on the Board of Finance. He served as the Orange schools’ business manager and is currently Chief Financial Officer for the City of Meriden. The Republican ticket has Joseph Nuzzo and Ajeet Jain, associate professor of Finance at Central Connecticut State University.
Selectmen are voted in for a two-year term, so the whole board is up for re-election at the same time. Except for Democrat Margaret Novicki, who is running for Town Clerk, all are seeking another term. On the Republican ticket voters will see the familiar names of Judy Wright Williams, Ralph Okenquist and John Carangelo; on the Democratic line it’s Mitch Goldblatt. New names to the board are Democrats Rosanna Cappetta and Charles Flynn. Cappetta is an attorney and Flynn is currently serving on the Board of Education.
Long time First Selectman Jim Zeoli is seeking a ninth term on the Republican ticket. He has led the town through economic crises and a pandemic, working hard for economic expansion and keeping tax rates in check. A gentleman farmer, he also served as co-chairman of the Orange Agricultural Fair. His jovial style has gained him the attachment of many.
Zeoli is being challenged by Connor Deane, a member of a new generation of leaders. Deane founded Broadway Method Academy, a nonprofit musical theater training program for young artists. In his campaign he is focusing on improved communication between Town Hall and the town at large, “across a variety of platforms”; on emphasizing small business (“rebranding the Boston Post Road”) and on sustainability.
Also on the ticket are new names for Judge of Probate, following the resignation of Judge Beverly Streit-Kefalas who was tapped to run the statewide probate court system. Milford Alderman Win Smith, a Republican, is an attorney with the law firm of Dey, Smith Steele. On the Demoratic ticket is Ben Gettinger, a general practice attorney at the New Haven law firm of Lynch, Traub, Keefe & Erante.
Five of the seven constables are seeking re-election to a new term. They are Democrats Santo Galatioto Jr. and Randy Thomas, and Republicans Genn Papelo, Judy Daymon and Michael Donadeo. Not seeking re-election is Republican Jeff Vargo; in his stead, the ticket includes Dan Zapatka.
The untimely passing of Robert Shanley has left a painful hole on the ballot. The Democratic Town Committee can nominate a replacement if they so choose, said Town Clerk O’Sullivan.
By Bettina Thiel – Orange Town News Correspondent