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    Sunday, June 16, 2024

    Groton Democrats win all seats on Town Council; school board results in dispute

    Joyce Wallace walks to the ballot box after marking her ballot Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2023, in the polling station at Mystic River Magnet School in Groton. (Dana Jensen/The Day)
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    Groton Town Council Candidate Portia Bordelon and volunteer Katie Jones talk to people as they pass by Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2023, while leaving the polling station at Mystic River Magnet School in Groton. (Dana Jensen/The Day)
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    From right, Groton Town Council candidate Pantea Umrysz, right, shares a laugh with friends Avery Denis, 15, of Groton, Jenni Akins and her daughter, Lucy, 11, Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2023, outside the polling station at Mystic River Magnet School in Groton. (Dana Jensen/The Day)
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    Groton Town Council Candidate Bruce Jones talks with Eli Morton, a friend of Harry Watson, a candidate for Groton Town Council, on Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2023, while campaigning outside the polling station at Mystic River Magnet School in Groton. (Dana Jensen/The Day)
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    Groton Town Council Candidate Bill Furgueson talks with Board of Education Member and Board of Education Candidate Matthew Shulman outside the City Municipal Building on Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2023 (Kimberly Drelich/The Day).
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    Matt McBride sits in the bed of his truck while campaigning for his brother, David McBride, a candidate for Groton Town Council, on Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2023, outside the polling station at Groton Public Library. (Dana Jensen/The Day)
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    Groton Town Councilor and Town Council Candidate Dan Gaiewski and Board of Education member Dean Antipas stand with signs outside Thames River Magnet School on Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2023. (Kimberly Drelich/The Day).
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    Groton ― Democrats on Tuesday won all seats on the Town Council, continuing the party’s dominance on the council in recent elections, according to unofficial results.

    “We have a Democratic sweep for Town Council,” Democratic Town Chairwoman Natalie Billing said Tuesday night, to applause, as Democrats gathered to hear results.

    Voters elected Democratic incumbents Portia Bordelon, a medical and clerical assistant; Rachael Franco, an accountant; Dan Gaiewski, an intern in the lieutenant governor’s office and Olde Mistick Village store worker; Bruce Jones, a retired small business owner; Juliette Parker, administrative secretary to the city police chief; and David McBride, a director of finance.

    New Democrats elected to the council include Roscoe Merritt, a Representative Town Meeting member who served with the Poquonnock Bridge Fire Department; Adam J. Puccino, Sr., RTM member and home improvement contractor; and Jill Rusk, the RTM moderator who works for the United Way of Southeastern Connecticut.

    Sitting Republican Scott Westervelt, who ran for reelection under the Groton Independents party, was not reelected to the council.

    Currently, eight Democrats and one Republican are seated on the council.

    The council race included for the first time a newly formed party called the Groton Independents Party.

    Nineteen candidates ― nine Democrats, five Republicans and five candidates from the Groton Independents party ― were vying for two-year terms on the council.

    Board of Education

    Voters elected six people to the Board of Education, a nine-member board with staggered terms. Five four-year seats and one two-year seat were up for election.

    Under minority party representation, no more than six members can be from one party. Three members ― two Republicans and one Democrat ― are seated on the board until 2025.

    Democrat Matthew Shulman won the two-year and four-year seat, but has to fill the two-year seat under state law, according to Billing. Four Democrats ― Adrian Johnson, Ian Thomas, Jay Weitlauf and Robb Meade ― and Republican Jenn White, the highest Republican votegetter ― were elected to the five four-year seats, according to Billing. The results still have to be certified by the town clerk and secretary.

    The school board results were disputed by Republican candidate and Republican Town Committee Chairman John Scott, who said he won the two-year seat due to minority party representation.

    Parties react

    Scott said the Republicans were disappointed they didn’t pick up any seats on the council.

    “We had some strong candidates,” Scott said. “We thought we had a good chance of picking up some seats but I guess it just wasn’t in the cards this year.”

    Lauren Gauthier, chairwoman of the Groton Independents, said the Groton Independents are “super excited.” She said the Groton Independents were aiming to achieve one percent of the vote in order to be able to establish a town committee as the Groton Independents, with all the rights afforded to the Democrats and Republicans. She said people will be able to register as Groton Independents in future elections.

    Billing said of the Democrats: “Our candidates worked really hard and knocked on thousands of doors talking to voters, and the voters recognized their dedication and commitment.”

    k.drelich@theday.com

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