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Ron McDaniel holds onto Montville mayor's seat

Montville — Mayor Ron McDaniel was reelected Tuesday night, as Montville voters opted for four more years of Democratic leadership.

McDaniel defeated Republican challenger Thomas McNally with 2,182 votes to McNally’s 1,668. McNally and McDaniel had faced off for the position before. In 2015, McDaniel won by approximately 750 votes after 35 percent of 8,400 registered voters turned out.

“Every candidate has the town’s best interests at heart,” McDaniel said. “I’m glad the people of Montville chose me again. We’re going to have to come together and work hard. I’m proud of the people we worked with to get here. It’s tough to put yourself out there like this, but I love this town, and I’m proud to be working for its people.”

McNally bemoaned voter turnout in this year’s election.

“We have worked really hard for the town over the past two years,” he told The Day in a text message. “We put on a well-run campaign that was very positive. Obviously we’re disappointed with the outcome, however, the voters have made a decision and we will hope the new team keeps moving the town forward. It’s disappointing that almost 7,000 people did not vote.”

McDaniel and McNally have a somewhat contentious history with each other.

In 2012, McDaniel fired McNally from the Water Pollution Control Authority in connection with two workers who were injured under his watch. McNally filed a lawsuit against McDaniel and other parties on the grounds that his dismissal was politically charged. The saga ended in a settlement.

McDaniel touted his resume and experience before the election: He has served as mayor since 2011, and he's a former state and U.S. Navy budget analyst. He also has run property management and oil businesses, and has served as a probate judge and Zoning Board of Appeals member, along with other positions.

McNally, the current Town Council chairman, has a landscaping and property management business. In the past he has served as a Water Pollution Control Authority assistant superintendent and volunteer firefighter. He has a long background in Montville public service, serving on the Board of Education, Public Safety Commission, Economic Development Commission, Planning and Zoning Commission and other bodies.

During their October debate, McNally highlighted his efforts to bring in millions of dollars in overdue taxes. He has criticized McDaniel for his record on economic development, saying the mayor only goes to one Economic Development Commission meeting a year. McNally also has detailed plans to hire a marketing firm to help attract businesses to Montville.

McDaniel has defended his record, saying "brochures and videos" are not the way forward, but improved infrastructure is. During his tenure, McDaniel has made an issue of Montville's host-town status for Mohegan Sun Casino, saying he has fought "for every dollar we're entitled to" out of the Mohegan Pequot fund.

On education, McNally and the Town Council decided to cut $246,000 from the Board of Education's most recent budget proposal, a move McDaniel vetoed. McNally said the final budget was actually a 2.7 percent increase from last year's budget; McDaniel said he felt the council cuts were too deep.

Despite their party affiliations and personal history, McDaniel and McNally agreed on a number of town issues. Both think the town should move toward an independent police force, and both said they want to keep taxes low. Both were interested in expanding town property. And both said they prioritize the town's education system above most other issues.

s.spinella@theday.com

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