By Kate Ramunni
HAMDEN – There won’t be a town-wide primary on Sept. 12, but there will be primaries in three districts, one that will involve three candidates.
The deadline to submit petitions to force a primary was 4 p.m. Wednesday, and as of that time, four candidates had submitted the required signatures, according to Democratic Registrar of Voters Rose Mentone.
Primaries will take place in the second, third and fifth districts, Mentone said. But none of the four candidates who took out petitions to force a primary for the Legislative Council at-large seats submitted the required number of signatures, she said, thus avoiding the cost of a town-wide primary that would have cost more than $10,000.
In the Second District, Christoper Vega of 174 Blue Hills Avenue gathered enough signatures to force a primary against incumbent and Democratic Town Committee-endorsed Councilman Harry Gagliardi.
In the Third District, two petition candidates – Athena Gary of 108 Second St. and Marlo Lewis of 110 Third Street – qualified with enough signatures to force a primary against incumbent and town committee-endorsed Councilman Oswald Brown.
In the Fifth District, newcomer Justin Farmer of 231 Butler St. will face DTC-endorsed candidate Aly Heimer in a bid to replace longtime council member Kath Schomaker, who is leaving the council to focus on her new position of town Energy Efficiency Coordinator, where she is tasked with implementing the town’s energy plan.
But the four people who took out petitions to force primaries for the four at-large seats on the council – Thomas Fortuna of 205 Gilbert Ave., Maria Garriga of 154 Franklin Road, Wanda Lary of 285 Blake Circle and Kandace Murray of 20 First St. – were unable to collect the required 789 signatures needed to qualify, Mentone said.
In the Eighth District, Shepard Avenue resident George Levinson, who was the independent candidate for mayor in 2015, will be on the ballot against incumbent councilman and council President James Pascarella. Levinson took out nominating petitions from the Secretary of State’s office.
Levinson needed to get 11 signatures, or 1 percent of vote cast for that seat in the last election, to qualify, Mentone said.
It’s not unusual that there will be several primaries to determine the candidates that will be on the November ballot, Mentone said. There’s often Democratic primaries in years local offices are up for election, she said.
“The Hamden Democratic Party has a history of primaries,” she said, and it’s especially true in the Second District. “They say there’s something in the water in the Second District because they always have a primary in that district.”
In 2015, there were primaries held in the Ninth District for seats on the Democratic Town Committee when a slate of newcomers challenged and won seats from several long-time DTC members.
The winners of the council primaries will likely be the winners in November as well because the Republican Town Committee has only put up a candidate to run in the Ninth District. The Democratic candidates running in the First through Eighth districts have no Republican challengers, so aside from Pascarella’s challenge from Levinson, those candidates are likely assured victory in November.