NOV 6, 2019
REPUBLICANS TAKE CONTROL OF COVENTRY COUNCIL, SCHOOL BOARD
COVENTRY — Republicans took control of the Town Council and Board of Education in Tuesday’s election in a tight race that followed a contentious campaign season. The win shifts the 4-3 Democratic majority to a 4-3 Republican majority on both boards. Turnout was high with 3,495 votes cast, at nearly 40 percent.
Coventry Republican Town Chairman Matthew O’Brien Jr., who sparked controversy with a speech he gave at a political rally in Southington, received 1,567 votes in his bid for council, edging out Democratic newcomer Sandye Simon by 15 votes and Democratic incumbent Carolyn Arabolos by 36 votes.
O’Brien Jr. will join his father, Matthew O’Brien Sr., on the council, who was re-elected with 1,582 votes. Celebrating with fellow Republicans at Coventry Pizza, O’Brien Jr. said his top priority is to keep taxes and the town’s debt as low as possible and listen to his constituents. He said voters’ switch to a Republican-controlled council was a reaction to what is going on at the state level with the Democratic Party and governor.
“We are seeing right now the Lamont administration not listening to the voters, trying to implement tolls and pushing all these new taxes on citizens,” he said. “As much as the Democrats don’t want to be tied to the state Democrats they are.”
Leading the election for the council with overall votes was Republican Julie Blanchard who received 1,794 votes.
Asked what her top priority is moving forward, she said maintaining the town’s facilities and roads while improving the recreation fields. She added also she would be looking for efficiencies in the budget.
Joining Blanchard, O’Brien Jr., and O’Brien Sr. on the Republican side of the council is newcomer Richard L. Williams Jr., who received 1,611 votes. The three Democrats elected to the council Tuesday are Lisa D. Thomas, who previously served on the council, with 1,652 votes, incumbent Lisa Conant who received the highest number of votes for the Democrats with 1,660, and Jonathan Hand who received 1,613 votes. Conant said she was concerned about O’Brien Jr.’s election to the council.
“We just had someone speak in the audience of citizens at the last council meeting who was concerned as a Jewish woman about the rhetoric pushed forward by Mr. O’Brien,” she said. “I will wait and see what his actions will be as an elected official. I hope that it changes.” Thomas said she also disagreed with O’Brien’s rhetoric. Her priority on the council is to continue to have a budget that suits the needs of the town.
Michael and Kelly Sobol, Republican members of the Town Council and Board of Education respectively, who were not endorsed by the Republican Town Committee for re-election, lost their re-election bid as unaffiliated candidates.
“Both Kelly and I are proud of the campaign we have run,” Michael Sobol said Tuesday at Dimitris, where Democrats gathered to receive results. “While we are disappointed in the result on our behalf we still pulled in nearly 50 percent of the votes that the rest of the parties pulled in. We have no campaign funds and no party affiliation and are running ourselves.”
Michael Sobol received 813 votes and Kelly Sobol 741 in their races for council and school board, respectively.
On the school board, incumbent Democrat Jennifer Beausoleil was the top vote-getter with 1,725 votes.
Asked about the shift to a Republican controlled school board, Beausoleil said she hoped the candidates elected to serve have the best interests of students in mind.
Other incumbents returning to the school board are Democrats Eugene Marchand and Mary S. Kortmann, and Republican William Oros. Oros beat Democrat Sean Gallagher by three votes receiving 1,559 votes. Joining Oros are Republican newcomers Robert Williams, Christina Williams, and Barbara Pare. Pare said her top priority is school safety, saying it as an evolving issue.
JOURNAL INQUIRER - BY OLIVIA REGEN
recount confirms election day results
NOV 8, 2019
JOURNAL INQUIRER - BY OLIVIA REGEN
COVENTRY — A recount Friday confirmed Republicans won two close races during Tuesday’s municipal election, securing a majority on both the Town Council and Board of Education.
An automatic recount for Town Council and Board of Education seats took place Friday as several candidates were within just a few votes of each other following Tuesday’s election. Republicans took control of both municipal bodies by a 4-3 margin following Election Day, but had to wait until Friday’s recount to confirm that Republican Matthew O’Brien Jr. defeated Democrat Sandye Simon in the council race, and that Republican incumbent William Oros defeated Democrat Sean Gallagher for a board seat.
Town Clerk Lori Tollmann confirmed Friday that no results from Tuesday were changed, though a few vote totals were altered after the recount. O’Brien Jr., who is also Republican town chairman, said he was pleased with the confirmation of Tuesday’s results. “We’re excited to have the votes reaffirmed,” O’Brien Jr. said. “And we’re ready to get to work.”
After the election there were only 15 votes separating council winner O’Brien Jr. and Simon. O’Brien Jr. received 1,567 votes while Simon received 1,552. During the recount, Simon picked up a single additional vote but it was not enough to change the result of that contest. For the Board of Education, only three votes separated the winner, incumbent Republican Oros, and the Democrat Gallagher. On Election Day, Oros received 1,559 votes while Gallagher received 1,556, and both vote totals were unchanged following Friday’s recount.
O’Brien Jr. will join three other Republicans on the Town Council. Incumbent Matthew O’Brien Sr., incumbent Julie Blanchard, and newcomer Richard Williams Jr. were also elected on Tuesday, by safe enough margins to avoid a change during the recount. Democratic newcomer Lisa Thomas and Democratic incumbents Lisa Conant and Jonathan Hand were also elected to the council Tuesday. For the Board of Education, Oros will join Republicans Christina Williams, Robert Williams, and Barbara Pare, and Democrats Jennifer Beausoleil, Eugene Marchand, and Mary Kortmann.
Tollmann said earlier this week that voter turnout on Tuesday was 40 percent — 10 percent higher than in the last local election in 2015. With the recount over, the inauguration ceremony for the new Town Council is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 12 in the Town Hall Annex.