NEW MILFORD — Republicans took the lead in most races in Tuesday’s municipal election, starting with Mayor Pete Bass capturing 73 percent of the town’s votes.
Bass earned himself a third term, defeating lifelong New Milford resident Ted Hine by 5,453 to 1,969 votes, according to unofficial results.
Republicans defeated Democrats in Town Council, Board of Finance, Board of Education, Planning Commission, Zoning Board of Appeals and Zoning Commission.
In the Town Council, all six of the Republican members were reelected, and many received nearly double the votes of the Democrats.
Republicans Katy Francis, Chris Cosgrove, Joseph Failla, Sal Rynkiewicz, Michael Nahom and Thomas Esposito all received over 4,000 votes.
Francis, who is secretary of the New Milford Republican Town Committee and vice chair of Town Council, said the “large turnout of voters across all districts” shows that residents are “engaged in how their municipality is handled, which is a key factor in stimulating growth within a community. The larger turnout is also evidence that residents are supportive with how things have been going for the past four years under Mayor Bass and his team.”
Francis said she will remain open to “listening to comments and concerns from residents, continue working with town agencies and local nonprofit agencies to increase food security for our children and introduce more safe home daycare options.”
“I’ll keep my focus on maintaining our fiscal health and working with the mayor and council to use our ARPA (American Rescue Plan Act) funds to strengthen infrastructure, broaden affordable housing options and encourage business and tourism growth,” she added.
Cosgrove said voters sent “a really clear” message, which, “first and foremost, is they like what we’ve been doing and how we’ve been leading the town.”
He added the party is “pretty in touch with the people and listening to them. They like what they’ve seen through four years of Pete’s leadership.”
Democrats who won on the Town Council include Hilary Ram, Mary Jane Lundgren and Alexandra Thomas.
Ram said she’s “grateful” to the voters who elected her to the Town Council, and “will work hard to earn the trust and respect of all the residents who live here. In New Milford, we all love our town, and that is my starting off point.”
She added that Democrats “have to be careful not to become what we are fighting against.”
“People are looking to leaders for civility and truth,” Ram said. “The problem we face today is that there is a lot of noise out there so finding truth is challenging. When people are unsure, or fearful, they go with who or what they know. Alas, here we are.”
Lundgren, who is chairperson New Milford Democratic Committee, said she’s “very proud of the slate that we ran because we had a very diverse slate. The other side is the same old, same old. We ran a whole slate of new candidates, except for myself in the Town Council.”
She said she’s especially excited that “it appears that we have three strong women, even though we’re the minority party on the Town Council.”
She added both the Democrats and Republicans “have to be very concerned about the change in diversity in our town and honor it and get a lot of these people on our boards and commissions and represented.
She added despite many Democrats losing in this election, the party is “very energized” about moving on. “We’ve got a lot of new people coming into our Democratic Town Committee that are energized and excited and have a lot of experience — so we’re going to keep pushing on and stand up for what believe in. I think we’re going to be fine.”
The Board of Finance election results mirror those of the Town Council — with Republicans taking a huge lead.
Republicans Dianne Klaif, Walter O’Connor and Joseph DeGregorio, who each garnered more than 4,000 votes, beat the three Democrats running against them — Joe Baker, Robyn Mann and Gale Alexander — by almost double the number of votes.
DeGregorio said the election results show that “transparency and honesty and of all those things are what won the day. The divisive rhetoric of national politics is not really reflective of local politics in any meaningful way.”
He said what small-town politics want is “community.”
“Pete is a community leader — helping the various organizations around town is what he does on a daily basis,” DeGregorio said. “And that’s what wins people’s hearts at the end of the day.”
Klaif said her No. 1 goal continues to be to keep taxes low.
Additionally, she said she’s very interested in the revitalization at the Riverfront revitalization and “hopes that we can make some inroads on that.”
She added said she hopes to move the town’s Department of Public Works off the riverfront plots they’re on now.
Board of Education Republicans Leslie Sarich with 4,372 votes, Wendy Ann Faulenbach with 4695 votes, Keith Swanhall with 4,209 votes, and Democrat Thomas O’Brien, with 3876 votes, defeated Democrat Bill Dahl with 3,118 votes.
Republicans continued their win across many other races — in Board of Education to fill a vacancy, Republican Eric Hansell beat Democrat Deborah Freeman; and in Board of Assessment Appeals, Republican Frank Bidetti beat Democrat Ellen Conklin.
On the Planning Commission, Republicans Michael Crispan and George Sam defeated Democrat Jim Scheef; on the Zoning Board of Appeals, Republicans Scott Leddy and Frank Greco defeated Democrat Robert Gambino; and on the Zoning Commission, Republicans William Taylor and Charles Bogie defeated Democrats Jackie Alexander and Michael Anastas.