Who’s ready for campaign 2013?

Greenwich-Voices-DadakisThe 2012 campaign signs have barely come down, yet Greenwich Democrats and Republicans are already gearing up for 2013, and this year it will be town officials who are on the ballot.

First Selectman Peter Tesei, who has distinguished himself as an outstanding municipal leader, has already declared his intention to run for a fourth term. I wonder if anyone’s taking odds on whether Tesei will ultimately serve longer then John Margenot’s five terms. In 2011, Tesei captured 73% of the vote to get a third term and clearly loves the job. So that wouldn’t be a surprise.

With Tesei out of the gate, GOP selectman Dave Theis and his Democrat colleague Drew Marzullo announced their intentions for another term as well. This board works well together. While not always agreeing, they move issues forward in a collegial fashion. Their comity stands in stark contrast to Tesei’s first term when Democratic Selectman Lin Lavery tried to incite controversy everywhere, including over the first selectman’s parking space. Ultimately voters overwhelmingly rejected her tactics when she challenged Tesei for first selectman in 2009.

As a full-time EMT in town, and a good one, too, Marzullo won’t run for first selectman. So Democrats need to convince someone to run against Tesei and their track record is not so good. Each Democrat who has challenged Tesei, from Frank Farricker to Lavery to John Blankley have experienced disastrous results for their efforts.

Expect Town Clerk Carmen Budkins and Tax Collector Tod Laudonia to seek re-election. Laudonia, who had a tough 2011 re-election battle, has righted his office and should have a much easier route to another victory if he runs this year for a third term.

I expect all Board of Estimate and Taxation members will run again. Their next term will be tougher as local Democrats fight to achieve in Greenwich what their brethren have in Hartford and Washington, namely spend enormously, increase taxes and incur lots of debt.

But look to the Board of Education for the real action. At least three new members will be elected. Nothing is official yet, but it is expected that Democrat Chairman Leslie Moriarty and former Republican Chairman Steve Anderson are likely not seeking re-election. It’s already been reported, in a number of news articles, that Republican Peter Sherr won’t run again.

Sherr was quick to announce, in November 2011, that he wouldn’t run in 2013. That was when the controversy surrounding his behavior, and that of former BOE member Marianna Ponns-Cohen, which some have claimed drove former superintendent Sidney Freund to resign, resulted in enormous anger among parents of school children. It ended with Ponns-Cohen’s defeat at the polls and I’d guess had Sherr been on the ballot he would’ve lost too.

I always thought Sherr took himself out of the running prematurely, but he clearly did so to insulate his behavior from criticism. Even Sherr’s Republican supporters were furious with him when he penned a nasty op-ed piece which went out of its way to rip into Tesei just days before the election. While Tesei still won big, Sherr was clearly trying to damage his Republican standard bearer. How’d you like this guy on your team?

Unrestrained, since he was not running again, he undermined his Republican BOE colleagues by casting the sole Republican vote electing Moriarty, the first Democratic BOE chairman in more than 30 years. He did so despite voters giving more than twice the number of votes to Republican BOE candidates than to their Democrat counterparts and ignoring that voters also elected a Republican Board of Selectmen, which is the final arbiter of a tied chairmanship vote.

It’s no wonder Sherr isn’t running again

The Board of Education election process is worth watching this year. New candidates will emerge on both sides of the aisle. We should see a healthy debate about our school system and such a debate is needed.

Don’t you love election years?


Ed Dadakis is former chairman of the Republican Town Committee and has spent more than 30 years serving on the Representative Town Meeting (RTM). He may be reached at [email protected]

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