Steward wins re-election in Waterford

Waterford — It was the most competitive political race of his life, but incumbent Republican First Selectman Daniel Steward defeated Democratic challenger Peter Davis by 451 votes Tuesday, outpolling him in all four of the town's voting districts.

"It was the most difficult race that I have ever run," said Steward, at Republican Party headquarters, after it was apparent that the town's GOP had had a good night. "This could have gone either way. But I think the taxpayers realized that we have done a good job balancing our budget and taking care of our town."

One focus of the Davis campaign was that Steward focused too much on rebuilding the town's schools at the expense of other capital projects, like maintaining roads, pump stations, underground utilities, and planning for and building a new public works facility.

But Davis will still have a voice in all of those things. The municipal planner in Norwich who has already announced that he will retire later this month was elected to the Board of Selectmen along with Steward's running mate Rob Brule.

Brule was appointed to fill a vacancy last spring, and Steward said the three will make for an interesting board.

"(Davis) was a good competitor. He's a good man," said Steward, but added that residents clearly prefer the incumbent's style of management over what Davis was proposing. 

"It's going to be an interesting four years," said Steward, who added that as a municipal planner, Davis will have a helpful point of view.

"I've got to give him credit for running a campaign that was effective," Davis said of Steward.

As a member of the board, Davis said he will continue to press for the issues he touted while campaigning, but said the campaign is over, voters have decided, and now it's time to do the job he's been elected to.

"I certainly will be voicing my opinions," he said.

Another town Republican, David Campo, defeated veteran town clerk Robert M. Nye, a Democrat who has held the job since 1992. Nye is also Waterford's historian.

Campo, who has worked in retail sales for 28 years and is just completing a four-year term on the Board of Education, said that school board service opened his eyes to the inner workings of municipal government and led him to run for the town clerk's job.

"I won't let the town down, I will work really hard," he said.

Steward, 65, who has been the town's first selectman since 2005, has said this will likely be his last four-year term.

One controversial issue on which Steward and Davis disagree is the location of a regional animal shelter. A local ad hoc committee that raised $200,000 toward the project supported Davis after Steward voiced support for an animal shelter project at the Corrigan-Radgowski Correctional Center in Montville.

Davis supports the regional shelter, but not at the prison site.

The Seaside Regional Center has also been a source of controversy within town. A year ago, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy intervened and decided the waterfront property should be made into a state park. Steward had supported an upscale development there — like an Ocean House-type project — and has raised concerns that the state will not be able to take care of a new state park.

While Davis supports the idea of a park at Seaside, he has concerns about state involvement, too, and said he would closely monitor proceedings as the project moves forward to protect the town's interests.

Twitter: @annbaldelli 




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