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Bordelon secures spot on Democratic slate for Groton Town Council

Groton — With the backing of voters in Tuesday's primary, Town Councilor Portia Bordelon secured a spot as a Democratic candidate for Town Council on the November ballot, while Town Councilor and party Chairman Conrad Heede lost his spot.

Bordelon, an incumbent councilor since 2019, petitioned for the primary after she was not endorsed by the Groton Democratic Town Committee. The committee endorsed her for Board of Education and Representative Town Meeting.

She thanked everyone for coming out to show their support and allowing their voices to be heard on behalf of the town.

"I am thrilled by the outpouring of support I received from our community today,” she said in a statement. "For the past four years as an RTM Member and Town Councilor I have fought to best represent all of my neighbors' voices in our Government. The results tonight show that my advocacy resonates with families all across Groton. I look forward to working with my colleagues on the current council to continue to improve our town and rebuild our Democratic Party to better reflect the ideals of inclusion, equity, and diversity which make me proud to be a Democrat."

Bordelon, Aundré Bumgardner, Melinda Cassiere, Rachael Franco, Edward Jacome, Bruce Jones, David McBride, Juan Melendez, and Juliette Parker will be the Democratic slate for Town Council in November. Bordelon, Bumgardner, Franco, Melendez and Parker are incumbents.

In July, a group of supporters of Bordelon and members of the Mystic Oral School Advocates, which oppose a proposed mixed-use development on the former Mystic Oral School property, had held signs in support of Bordelon before the Democratic Town Committee's meeting to endorse candidates. Bordelon initially voted for the project, but later said she was withdrawing her support. A town attorney had advised the councilors to not speak publicly on the subject due to potential legal ramifications.

But Heede said the lack of endorsement for Bordelon for council was not because of the Mystic Education Center proposal and he said she would be a positive addition to the Board of Education. He said he believes the job of the DTC is "to nominate a slate that can work together effectively even as they disagree, sometimes passionately."

Bordelon successfully collected enough signatures for the primary. She said her attendance and voting records, as well as the feedback she received from the community, warranted another run for the council and a "primary election will allow the full, accurate will of Groton’s Democratic Voters to be heard."

Jacome, Jones, Cassiere and McBride, who are not on the council, were at Groton Democratic Headquarters on Poquonnock Road to hear the results, while Bordelon supporters gathered in Mystic. The incumbents were at a Town Council Committee of the Whole meeting Tuesday evening.

Natalie Burfoot Billing, vice chair of the Groton DTC, said she was “completely blown away” by the candidates’ dedication, hard work, commitment and the amount of time they spent knocking on doors and talking to voters. She also recognized Heede for all he has done for the party over the past years and said if there’s one person in the party who's responsible for the party becoming one with diversity in race, age and opinions, it’s Heede.

“It’s the result of decades of hard work growing and building the party by actively seeking out greater diversity, appealing to youth and welcoming new members from all sections of town with diverse opinions,” Burfoot Billing said. “Unfortunately primaries are difficult. They cause divisions which are damaging. The Town Committee was united behind nine candidates and divided over one. The Democratic voters have told us to include that one so we’re now going to regroup and begin the slow process of healing the divisions and refocusing our efforts on winning the Town Council, Board of Education and RTM in November."

Noting "there are real and serious differences between Democrats and Republicans on COVID response, climate change, the environment, sustainability and resilience, quality of education, services to families and people in need," she added, "hopefully Democratic voters will unite behind our candidates in November on those critical issues.”

Heede said in a statement: “I offer my congratulations to the nine Democratic Council candidates who will go on to win the election in November. I feel like I’ve helped accomplish a lot to help make Groton a better place for all of us and look forward to having my Tuesday nights off!”

"The voters spoke loud and clear that the Democratic Town Committee does not control our community electoral process: the people do," Bumgardner said late Tuesday night. "My sincere congratulations goes to Councilor Portia Bordelon for earning her spot on the Row A team. It was my honor to endorse her in the primary and I can't wait to roll up my sleeves to get to work with her and the Democratic team for all of Groton."

Groton voter Brian Lee said he voted for Bordelon along with some of the endorsed candidates. He said when he watches the Town Council meetings on television, Bordelon asks the same questions he has. “I feel she speaks for the people,” he said. He also said he has concerns about the Mystic Education Center proposal.

Groton voter Jill Karwoski said Bordelon is a “top contender” in their household and is extremely personable. While Bordelon may not always agree with the panel, she’s going to find out all the information and then make the best decision for the community, Karwoski said.

Some voters were backing the “Row A” candidates. Groton voter Michael Freeman said he voted for most of the endorsed candidates. He said he did not vote for Bordelon because he had concerns about comments she made at a July Board of Education meeting — Bordelon, after she raised her hand but was not called on to speak during the meeting, said she would not vote for the Democrats on the Board of Education again. He said that’s not something he wanted to hear as a strong supporter of the party.

Some voters were energized by new candidates. Debbie Apicelli came out to support new candidate David McBride, who she said is dedicated and cares about the town and the people.

Some voters did not want to say who they voted for but stressed the importance of coming out to vote in local elections.

Voter Angela Thomas brought her 14-year-old daughter to the polling place and said she is raising the next generation of voters.

“I just think it’s important to vote in every election," she said, "not just the ones that get all the attention.”

Unofficial results

According to unofficial results Tuesday night, the candidates received the following votes:

Portia Bordelon: 970
Aundré Bumgardner: 773
Melinda Cassiere: 763
Rachael Franco: 684
Conrad Heede: 607
Edward Jacome: 670
Bruce Jones: 673
David McBride: 666
Juan Melendez: 757
Juliette Parker: 739

About 19% of Groton’s registered Democrats turned out to vote in the primary.



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