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Norwich Democrats take control of City Council

Norwich — Democrats won a 4-3 majority on the City Council on Tuesday and retained their 6-3 majority on the Board of Education, citing a "comprehensive and cohesive" message of transparency in budgeting and decision-making.

After a campaign that centered on budget for both the city and the school system, voters on Tuesday re-elected incumbent Democrat Joseph DeLucia and elected former Alderman Mark Bettencourt — the top vote-getter with 2,711 votes — and newcomers Derell Wilson and Ella Myles.

Republican incumbents William Nash and Stacy Gould won re-election and, along with Republican Mayor Peter Nystrom, form the three Republican votes on the council.

"We worked hard as a team," said Wilson, also the Democratic Town Committee chairman. "We came in with a comprehensive and cohesive message that wasn't about us, it was about what was most important for everyone."

DeLucia thanked supporters, including several labor unions and town committee members who campaigned for the candidates. The party formed two political action committees to raise money and support the council and school board candidates.

Although not on the ballot, Nystrom campaigned actively with his party colleagues, accompanying them and coaching them in door-to-door campaigning.

"Obviously, it's disappointing," Nystrom said. "The city has been on a movement to hold the line on spending. It just makes the road a lot harder."

Bettencourt and DeLucia stressed that the council must work together across party lines to resolve budget issues and move forward on economic development.

Nystrom said he will work with those elected, but said he won't be shy about "using the gavel" if partisan discourse becomes a problem.

On the school board, all six Democratic candidates won their seats: 12-year incumbent and current Chairwoman Yvette Jacaruso, the top vote-getter with 2,538, Kevin Saythany, Swaranjit Singh, Mark Kulos, Heather Romanski, and newcomer Carline Charmelus.

Singh said he believes he is the only elected official in the state of the Sikh faith and said he reached out and received strong support from representatives of numerous faith groups of different religions. He said his election should open the door for others to try to seek public office.

Ten-year veteran Republican and past Chairman Aaron “Al” Daniels, Republican Patricia Staley and Christine Distasio won seats for the Republicans.

"I'm thrilled," newcomer Distasio said. "I thank everybody for their help. I look forward to serving the children first, and the people of Norwich."

c.bessette@theday.com

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