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    Sunday, April 14, 2024

    Brule, Nazarchyk lead GOP charge in Waterford

    Republican First Selectman candidate Rob Brule, right, is congratulated Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2019, by Bill Stanley for his election win over Democrat Beth Sabilia at the party headquarters on Boston Post Road. Current First Selectman Dan Steward is retiring after 14 years in office. (Sarah Gordon/The Day)
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    Waterford — Republican Selectman Rob Brule and his running mate, longtime Board of Education member Jody Nazarchyk, led the GOP to a near sweep here Tuesday, extending the party's hold on the Board of Selectmen for four more years.

    Brule defeated Democrat Beth Sabilia in the race for first selectman, garnering 56 percent of the votes cast.

    Sabilia will join Brule and Nazarchyk on the Board of Selectmen. Sabilia's running mate, Joshua Steele Kelly, won the fewest votes of the two candidates for first selectman and the two candidates for selectman.

    "I think the town's happy with what we've been doing and knew that I'd be ready from Day One," Brule said amid jubilant supporters at Republican headquarters on Boston Post Road. "People realized that a lot of things are going right in this town."

    Brule was elected to the Board of Selectmen in 2015, having run on a ticket headed by First Selectman Dan Steward, who has served for 14 years, winning five elections. He did not seek re-election.

    Brule, who said he stands for "core Republican values," thanked Republican Town Chairwoman Kathleen McCarty, a state representative; Eddie Aledia, his 20-year-old campaign manager; and his wife, for "showing confidence in me."

    "I look forward to working with Rob and Jody," said Sabilia, who watched her opponent's numbers pile up as they were posted at Democratic headquarters, also on Boston Post Road. "I already told him (Brule), I'm going to be a thorn in his side. I'm not going anywhere, I'm not piping down."

    Brule credited Sabilia with running a tough campaign, attributing his own success to meeting voters while walking throughout the town over the last three months.

    In an interview earlier in the day, Sabilia, a Waterford Representative Town Meeting member and a former New London mayor, said voters had registered concern about the “direction of the town” and what they believed was a lack of leadership during Steward's tenure.

    “The town’s been in a caretaking mode — no new initiatives, inside-the-box thinking and a feeling that the status quo was sufficient," she said. “People want better roads, they want something done about commercial blight and the retention of businesses. They’re concerned about rising property taxes.”

    Voting turnout was relatively robust early in the day, with 17 percent of the town’s registered voters having cast ballots by noon. In the two previous municipal elections — 2015 and 2017 — turnout at the same point was 12 percent. By 4 p.m., 28 percent of voters had voted, suggesting turnout would clear the 40 percent mark by day's end.

    The town has 13,225 registered voters, an increase of 4 percent over the last two years. Forty-five percent of the electorate is unaffiliated. Democrats account for 32 percent of voters, Republicans 22 percent.

    In a September debate, Sabilia questioned whether the Republican-led administration had accomplished much in the last four years, while Brule said the town was thriving. He cast himself as a conservative and as a supporter of education and economic development. He said he was interested in discussing the feasibility of developing a “main street” or central location in town.

    Brule is a senior manager at ABI Resources, a company that specializes in community-based acquired brain injury rehabilitation. He served on a number of town committees over the years and coached Waterford High School's girls' soccer team for 20 years before retiring in 2014.

    During the campaign, he promised to focus on "customer service," if elected.

    Nazarchyk served on the Board of Education for 24 years, and is known as high-profile booster of high school sports. She was inducted into the Waterford Athletic Hall of Fame in 2018.

    Sabilia has practiced law for 22 years, establishing her own practice in Waterford.


    Democratic First Selectman candidate Beth Sabilia, center, keeps an eye on the numbers as she waits for voting results Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2019, at the party headquarters on Boston Post Road. She conceded to Republican candidate Rob Brule. Current First Selectman Dan Steward is retiring after 14 years in office. (Sarah Gordon/The Day)
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