Darien Republicans unite behind candidates
Updated 11:39 am, Wednesday, July 19, 2017
DARIEN — Unlike the contentious caucus that took place in 2015, Darien’s united Republican party unanimously endorsed an unopposed slate Tuesday night.
Less than 30 of the town’s 5,766 registered Republicans were in Town Hall to cast a vote for the 18 candidates who will compete in autumn’s election, including incumbent First Selectman Jayme Stevenson, who is seeking a fourth term, and incumbent Selectmen Susan Marks and Charles “Kip” Koons
With concerns growing about Connecticut’s financial state — and how any adverse impacts might ultimately trickle down to Darien — Republican Town Committee members said experience and financial knowledge were pivotal qualifications for the town’s next elected officials.
“It’s a very unusual time in the state of Connecticut, but we’re definitely up to the challenge,” Stevenson told the caucus on behalf of the slate.
“We thank you for your support and hope you’ll take an active part in our campaign,” she said.
“I think we have a very unified party in Darien … that agrees with the platform of the Republican Town Committee,” said Brent Hayes, RTC chairman. “It may be a Republican caucus this evening but we’re endorsing candidates that are looking out for all of Darien’s interests, regardless of party affiliation.”
“The big problem here is trying to solve what’s going to happen with the state of Connecticut and their budget,” Koons said.
“They know what they’re doing,” said State Rep. Terrie Wood (R-141). “They’ve got the experience. They’ve got the common sense. I’m deeply grateful they have stepped forward to run again. They’ve dealt with so many of the issues that are impacting our state. They have the experience to address them and they do it with a lot of honor and integrity.”
Other incumbent GOP candidates include Board of Finance Chairman Jon Zagrodsky, Planning and Zoning Commission Chairman John Sini, and members Stephen Olvany, James Rand and Elizabeth Riva, and Board of Education member David Dineen.
“The state’s got issues, as we all know,” Cardone said, noting his campaign was about “what can we do to help the town and insulate it from what possibly could happen in Hartford.”
The only surprise this season, which was not publicly discussed, was the RTC’s failure to endorse current school board Chairman Michael Harmon, instead going with Dennis Maroney, a member of the Representative Town Meeting, for a spot on that board.
“This caucus has been a lot less stressful than two years ago, especially for me,” Marks said.
Following her first term, she was not endorsed by the RTC on its slate in 2015. However, following inclusion through petition, she went on to receive the majority of votes cast at a well-attended caucus.
“It’s an election and you have to work for your votes,” she said. “And I got a team of people to help me do that.”
“I’m very pleased that nobody petitioned to challenge,” Stevenson said after the caucus. “I’m sure I’ll receive challenges from the other party.”
“I certainly never take anything for granted in politics,” she said.
Other Republicans endorsed as candidates include Christopher Peters for the Board of Assessment Appeals, Lou Calastro and Joe Tarnowsky for Town Constables, Donna Rajczewski for Town Clerk, Kathleen Larkins for Town Tax Collector, and Joan Hendrickson for Town Treasurer.