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Democrats Win in West Hartford with Large Majority

West Hartford Mayor Scott Slifka (standing, left) celebrates with his family after being re-elected Tuesday night. To his right are his sister-in-law Andrea Slifka and his wife Noelle. In front are his daughter Betsy and brother Jon, who also served as campaign manager. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Incumbent Mayor Scott Slifka is re-elected as Democrats retain all six seats on the Town Council.

West Hartford Mayor Scott Slifka (standing, left) celebrates with his family after being re-elected Tuesday night. To his right are his sister-in-law Andrea Slifka and his wife Noelle. In front are his daughter Betsy and brother Jon, who also served as campaign manager. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

West Hartford Mayor Scott Slifka (standing, left) celebrates with his family after being re-elected Tuesday night. To his right are his sister-in-law Andrea Slifka and his wife Noelle. In front are his daughter Betsy and brother Jon, who also served as campaign manager. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

By Ronni Newton

The scene at West Hartford’s Democratic headquarters at Luna Pizza on Farmington Avenue Tuesday night was jubilant as candidates and supporters watched the reporting of vote totals, confirming a resounding victory for their party by maintaining all six seats on the Town Council.

Unofficial tallies obtained from the Registrar’s office late Tuesday night, that included absentee ballot counts, show incumbent Scott Slifka as the top vote-getter with 8,531 votes – a resounding endorsement for his return to the mayor’s position by a margin of more than 1,100 votes. Shari Cantor, who had the second-highest total with 7,427 votes, was re-elected deputy mayor.

(From left) Town Clerk Essie Labrot, Tracey Wilson, and State Sen. Beth Bye listen to victory speeches Tuesday night at Democratic headquarters. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

(From left) Town Clerk Essie Labrot, Tracey Wilson, and State Sen. Beth Bye listen to victory speeches Tuesday night at Democratic headquarters. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

jepsen greenberg

Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen, a West Hartford resident, stopped by Democratic headquarters Tuesday night to congratulate candidates. At right is Board of Education member Cheryl Greenberg. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

“There are incredible rewards you get from this service, and people become like your family. This town has given me the gift of two more years with Shari, with Leon [Davidoff], with Judy [Casperson] and now with Ben [Wenograd] and Beth [Kerrigan],” Slifka said.

Newcomers Wenograd and Kerrigan ran to fill Town Council seats being vacated by Harry Captain and Clare Kindall, both of whom decided not to seek re-election.

“We’ve had a remarkable leader, who is always looking out for the interest of our town,” Cantor said. “It’s going to be another great term,” she said.

Davidoff said he was “thrilled beyond words” to have been re-elected, and with the third highest vote total (6,651). “This campaign was important to me and I didn’t take anything for granted,” he said. “We’ve got a great team going forward … we’re a team and we act as a team,” Davidoff said.

Republicans, who gathered at Beachland Tavern, were disappointed in the results, but vowed to keep working to make inroads despite being outnumbered by registered Democrats in town. Board of Education member Jay Sarzen, whose term was not up this year, said that “even with the better candidates, it’s tough to overcome the three-to-one margin.”

“We tried to pick up the [fourth] seat, but the message just wasn’t there yet,” said Chris Williams, who was elected and will join Republican Town Council members Denise Hall and Chris Barnes. “But I think the pendulum is going to switch,” Williams said.

West Hartford’s charter requires that the majority party cannot hold more than six of the nine Town Council seats, and Republicans were hoping to pick up a fourth. Bill McCarthy, as well as petitioning candidate Aaron Sarwar, were not elected.

McCarthy, who received 40 less votes than Williams, said he is “disappointed that people vote the party line and don’t know what’s going on in town,” specifically referencing the town’s unfunded pension and healthcare liabilities.

“I’m happy to be re-elected,” Barnes said. “But we’re really disappointed that four candidates who were excellent and qualified and worked hard did not all get elected,” he said. “We will continue to fight the fight on behalf of the residents of West Hartford and hope to get better results in 2017.”

There was no real contest for the Board of Education with an equal number of candidates running to fill open seats. Republican incumbent Mark Zydanowicz was the lone Republican running and was re-elected. Board of Education members Bruce Putterman and Terry Schmitt, both Democrats, decided not to run again, and first-time Democratic candidates Carol Blanks and Dave Pauluk were elected those seats.

Incumbent Democratic Board of Education member Cheryl Greenberg, who was appointed to replace Jillian Gilchrest, ran unopposed to fulfill the remaining two years of the term.

Democrat Essie Labrot, running unopposed for Town Clerk, was elected with 8,346 votes.

Information about the total turnout was not available late Tuesday night, but was estimated at 30 percent, up from 27.64 in the 2013 municipal election.

Unofficial vote counts shown below were received from the Registrar of Voters office and include absentee ballots.

Candidates (alph. order)Total Votes, unofficial but including Absentee Ballots
Town Council
Chris Barnes4,402
Shari Cantor7,427
Judy Casperson6,225
Leon Davidoff6,651
Denise Hall4,921
Beth Kerrigan6,510
Bill McCarthy4,231
Aaron Sarwar1,229
Scott Slifka8,531
Ben Wenograd6,413
Chris Williams4,271
Board of Education
Carol Blanks7,201
Cheryl Greenberg8,313
Dave Pauluk7,201
Mark Zydanowicz4,673
Town Clerk
Essie Labrot8,346

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