By Kate Ramunni
HAMDEN – No matter what the outcome of the November elections, the Legislative Council is going to look different in December than it does today.
The Democratic candidates running in the first through the eighth districts are virtually assured victory because the Republican Town Committee declined to nominate candidates in those districts, only putting forward a candidate to run in the Ninth District. But several Democratic district candidates are newcomers, and at least two of those are facing primaries from other Democrats.
The Legislative Council is comprised of six at-large seats, of which no more than four can be held by members of the same party. It also includes one representative from each of the town’s nine districts, for a total of 15 members.
Long time Councilwoman-at-Large Carol Noble is retiring and won’t be on the ballot. Fifth District Councilwoman and council Vice-President Kath Schomaker also isn’t seeking reelection, instead opting to focus on her new position as the town’s Energy Efficiency Coordinator.
Over the past year, the council has lost two other long-time members who held at-large seats – Al Gorman, who resigned before he passed away last August, and Jack Kennelly, who passed away in May. Kennelly died after a battle with cancer, and Gorman died after suffering for years with a brain tumor.
Last week, both the Republican and Democratic town committees endorsed candidates for seats on the council and the Board of Education. Democratic Mayor Curt Balzano Leng was endorsed for a second full term, while the Republican Town Committee endorsed political newcomer Salman Hamid for mayor. It declined to endorse a candidate to challenge Democratic incumbent Town Clerk Vera Morrison.
The Republicans endorsed four candidates for Legislative Council at-large seats: incumbents Betty Wetmore and Marjorie Bonadies, who currently represents the Ninth District, as well as James Anthony and Rosalie Cavanaugh. Current Republican Councilman-at-Large Austin Cesare announced in May that he would not seek another term.
But it only endorsed one candidate for a district seat: Bob Anthony, who is running in the Ninth District. Two years ago Anthony was the Republican candidate for mayor and is a retired Hamden firefighter.
The Democratic Town Committee also endorsed four candidates for at-large seats: incumbents John DeRosa and Berita Rowe-Lewis, as well as Michael McGarry, who currently represents the First District, and Lauren Garrett.
In the First District, the Democratic Town Committee endorsed Jody Clouse; in the Second District, it endorsed incumbent Democrat Harry Gagliardi, but he will face a primary against fellow Democrat Chris Vega.
Third District Councilman Ozzie Brown is running for another term, as is Fourth District Councilman Eric Annes. In the Fifth District, Democrat Aly Heimer was endorsed to replace Schomaker, but is expected to face a primary challenge from fellow Democrat Justin Farmer.
In the Sixth District, the town committee endorsed Cory O’Brien to replace current Councilman Myron Hul, who is running for a seat on the Board of Education. Hul served on the school board for years before winning a seat on the council and has opted to run to return to the board.
Both Seventh District Councilman Michael Colaiacovo and Eighth District Councilman James Pascarella, who is the council’s president, were endorsed for their seats, but Pascarella is facing a primary from George Levinson, who ran for mayor in 2015 as an independent.
The Ninth District is the only district to have both a Democratic and Republican candidate. Anthony will face Brad McDowall, who was named to serve out Kennelly’s term as a councilman-at-large after his death May 19.
For the Board of Education, in addition to Hul, the Democratic Town Committee endorsed incumbent Arturo Perez-Cabello, as well as Walter Morton, Melinda Saller and Melissa Kaplan. The Republican Town Committee endorsed incumbent Lynn Campo, as well as Beth Wolak and Gail Mitchell.