Tesei cruises as fourth term blowout victory leads ticket, Sherr reelected to school board

First Selectman Peter Tesei and supporters were all smiles after big Republican wins on Tuesday. — John Ferris Robben photo

First Selectman Peter Tesei and supporters were all smiles after big Republican wins on Tuesday. — John Ferris Robben photo

UPDATED WEDNESDAY 1:40 P.M. — Calling it a clear mandate for conservative fiscal stewardship that was restoring the community, First Selectman Peter Tesei and the entire Republican team basked in victory Tuesday night after an overwhelming victory for a fourth term in Greenwich’s top elected office.

Mr. Tesei defeated his Democratic challenger Elizabeth Krumeich by a blowout margin, 8,433 to 3,086, as of totals on Wednesday morning. Independent candidate Jim C. Reilly far exceeded expectations, taking in 157 votes throughout town. But it wasn’t a big night just for Mr. Tesei. Republican Selectman David Theis beat Selectman Drew Marzullo in a head-to-head matchup by a 6,543-to-4,768 margin, though both men will be on the board as Mr. Marzullo’s votes exceeded Ms. Krumeich’s. Additionally, Tax Collector Tod Laudonia was re-elected with 6,340 votes to Democrat Rick Novakowski’s 4,672.

The hotly contested race for the Board of Education saw Republican incumbent Peter Sherr re-elected with the highest vote total for the party, coming in at 6,615 votes. Board newcomer Peter Bernstein was right behind, gaining 6,510 votes, defeating the third Republican candidate, Brian Peldunas, who had 6,092 votes. For the Democrats, Laura Erickson and Debbie Appelbaum easily took the party’s two open seats on the board, defeating Samarpana Tamm in the three-person race. Ms. Erickson was the top vote-getter, with 6,383 compared to Ms. Appelbaum’s 5,941 and Ms. Tamm’s 3,017.

Mr. Tesei told the packed room of supporters at Republican headquarters at the Milbrook Club that he was humbled by the vote of confidence in his leadership over the past six years.

“We’re here to celebrate a great win,” Mr. Tesei said. “It’s not just a great win for individuals but for the ideals behind which the individuals stand. As your first selectman for the past six years, I’ve been humbled to serve this community, a community I deeply love and care about. Tonight’s results are an affirmation of a service provided over the past years.”

Mr. Tesei said the voters’ show of confidence “means more than you know” and pledged to do “the job that I’ve done over the past six years with humility, with determination, with patience, and with your support.”

Despite the loss, Ms. Krumeich urged all her supporters to keep working toward the goals of their campaign, saying it was important to “keep the momentum going” even though it was tempting to just “take a big breath and step back and stop.” She thanked everyone who had helped with her campaign, which had to come together very quickly since she became an official candidate only in September.

“Everybody stepped in,” Ms. Krumeich said. “I had people joining me along the way as we knocked on doors. I had people sitting next to me to make the calls to ensure we were reaching more people, and that’s what this is going to be about in the future. We’re going to keep building on the base that we’ve established in this race. We’ve tried to keep it to the issues and I feel very proud of the way all of us worked hard to focus on the issues that are important to our community.”

Thursday’s victory was also a chance for Mr. Theis to take a bow as he was easily elected to his third term in office.

“We will continue Republican values of hard work, civility, personal responsibility, and belief in the American dream,” Mr. Theis said, adding that he “couldn’t be more honored” to work with Mr. Tesei. He pledged the board would continue to keep taxes low and predictable without compromising public safety or the needs of seniors and that the door to him and Mr. Tesei would remain open at any time to meet resident needs.

Mr. Marzullo praised the Democrats he shared the ballot with, saying Ms. Krumeich showed courage in getting her message out in the campaign and praising Ms. Tamm’s race for the Board of Education, saying that her fortitude made him a better candidate. Mr. Marzullo said he was eager to get to work to keep pushing the themes put forth in the campaign for the Board of Selectmen and Board of Estimate and Taxation (BET).

“I’m proud to be a Democrat,” Mr. Marzullo said. “I’m proud to be working with people like you. We have a BET that is unbelievably strong and I look forward to that debate. We have a Board of Education that is unbelievably strong.”

Democratic Town Committee Chairman Frank Farricker, speaking as the results became clear, praised the “amazing strength” Mr. Marzullo has in town, saying that the support for him from the voters made him “one of the strongest candidates to run on the ticket in many years.”

“He’s going to be a very strong leader for the next two years for the town and for our party,” Mr. Farricker said.

Eyes on tax collector and school board

Democrats had thought that they had a chance in the tax collector’s race as Mr. Laudonia faced challenger Rick Novakowski, who had support from both Democrats and Republicans in the town. But in the end, Mr. Laudonia won his third term and thanked all his supporters.

“I thought about this over the last couple of days,” Mr. Laudonia said. “We work very quietly for you. There’s no bells and whistles. No one is looking for a pat on the back. We’re just going about our jobs and doing the best we can for you. I think tonight’s results show that people appreciate that.”

Mr. Novakowski told disappointed supporters that he felt like a winner because of the support of his family and all his friends in town, and said he was going to miss spending time on the campaign trail with Mr. Marzullo.

“Despite losing, I got a lot of Republican support and I just want to say to the Republicans who voted for me … I had your support because you wanted me to be in this position as tax collector,” Mr. Novakowski said. “You may never vote Democratic, but I want you to just look and think because you voted for me and it’s this party that gave you the opportunity to be able to vote for me.”

Addressing the cheering crowd, Republican Town Committee Chairman Jim Campbell looked at the results and said the “message was loud and clear that the voters want two more years of Republican rule in Greenwich.” He praised the team of Mr. Tesei and Mr. Theis as one of the “best partnerships we’ve ever seen” and said the voters had delivered an “enormous mandate” to Mr. Tesei.

It was the Board of Education race that kept voters’ eyes peeled throughout the night, and while the race for the Democrats was decided quickly, it took longer to determine who would represent the Republicans.

With many Republican observers telling the Post they were surprised that Mr. Peldunas finished third, Mr. Bernstein’s showing created a lot of buzz in the room, as did Mr. Sherr’s re-election as the top vote getter despite not receiving the party’s endorsement this summer and having colleagues actively campaign against him.

Once the results were in, Mr. Sherr joined his fellow Republicans at their headquarters and was surrounded quickly by supporters offering congratulations. He told the Post that he was eager to sit down with Mr. Bernstein and get to work on the challenges that lay ahead for them and the entire board over the next four years.

“For Greenwich this could actually be a bright new day for education,” Mr. Sherr said. “I’m actually excited about all the new people we’re going to get on the board. I’m thankful for everything everyone who has been serving, especially [outgoing board Chairman] Leslie Moriarty. She brought stability to the board over the last two years and it’s what the board needed. Now we have a platform to build on. I’m thrilled for Laura and Debbie and it’s going to be great for Peter, too. We all have to work together. There was entirely too much dysfunction and turmoil on the last board.”

Mr. Sherr said he was honored by the voters’ show of support, saying it endorsed his efforts.

“I tried real hard to be the voice of parents and kids,” Mr. Sherr said. “That was central to what we talked about in the campaign, and I’m really thrilled the voters of Greenwich saw what we were doing and that they recognized we were on their side.”

In brief remarks, Mr. Bernstein said he would focus on collaboration, working with his colleagues to increase academic achievement. Mr. Campbell acknowledged it was a “very tough battle” but said the party would be stronger for it.

Mr. Farricker made an understatement for the night when he called it “an absolutely interesting election year” because of how much it was dominated by the school board race. Mr. Farricker strongly praised both the new Democrats on the board and the current ones.

“We have a very, very interesting two years in front of us with our schools, which are only going to be kept afloat, in my view, by the strength and the intelligence and the dedication of Jennifer Dayton, Adriana Ospina, Debbie Applebaum, and Laura Erickson,” Mr. Farricker said.

BET victory

Tuesday night was also a victory for Republican leadership on the Board of Estimate and Taxation (BET) as the grand ol’ party won by a huge margin. BET Democrats had run an aggressive campaign, calling for increased long-term borrowing to allow for infrastructure investment in town, and Mr. Tesei took the opportunity in his victory speech to tweak the Democrats, calling the night a reaffirmation of the mandate for Republican fiscal policies.

“You can tell your friends on the other side that their European socialism and left coast liberalism are not welcome in Greenwich,” Mr. Tesei said. “They don’t work in Greenwich.”

Mr. Tesei did keep the majority of his speech serious, though, remarking that he was touched by how many people told him during the final day of campaigning that they appreciated the job he was doing and how hard the Republicans were working for the town.

“That’s the message that our opponents don’t, frankly, want to recognize,” Mr. Tesei said. “We do it because we care about the town. We believe in it and we do so with the vision that has made this town into a premier residential community. It has been for decades and it will continue to be.”

Mr. Farricker told his party that there was a lot of reason to be hopeful for the future.

“The Democrats are the united party,” Mr. Farricker said. “The Democrats aren’t the ones who are fighting and squabbling. The Democrats are the ones with a clear vision and the Democrats are the ones in town people really listen to when it comes to policy and important matters with governing this town.”

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