WALLINGFORD — Both newly elected town officials are women, slightly increasing female representation on town governing boards.
Christina Tatta was elected to the Town Council and Autumn Allinson to the Board of Education in the municipal election Tuesday. Both are Republicans.
While it won’t change the gender makeup of the Board of Education, the Town Council will have more than one female member for the first time in more than a decade.
The other woman on the Town Council is Democrat Gina Morgenstein, who was re-elected to her second term Tuesday.
Morgenstein said she’s looking forward to working with Tatta again, after the two served on the Charter Revision Commission in 2016 and 2017.
“I welcome having Ms. Tatta on the council personally and as a fellow female,” Morgenstein said via email Thursday. “I would like to see a near future where there can be an all-female council and a female mayor. Even better, a near future where we have a Wallingford government that has members of all genders, all colors and all religions.”
According to Town Clerk Barbara Thompson, the last time Wallingford had two women on the Town Council was at the swearing-in of January 2006 — Republican Lois Doherty and Democrat Iris Papale.
“Opposing parties just like Gina and Christina,” Thompson said.
The school board will remain with women in the majority with the re-election of Republicans Karen Hlavac, Erin Corso and Tammy Raccio and Democrats Kathy Castelli and Patty Pursell.Top vote-getter
Tatta was the overall top vote-getter Tuesday in the race for Town Council.
According to the unofficial election results, Tatta received almost 7,900 votes, or roughly 12 percent of the total votes cast for Town Council.
Numbers are not considered official until they become certified by the Secretary of the State's office.
Tatta said via email Wednesday that she was “happily surprised” and had set being the top vote-getter as her goal.
She knew, however, that it’s common for non-incumbents to lose their first Town Council race.
“I was working hard and hoping I'd do well,” she said, “but I was realistically thinking I'd fall somewhere in the middle. Of course, you really just need to land in the top nine, but No. 1 was a nice payoff for the campaign's hard work.”
Her campaign was a mix of “tried-and-true campaign strategies with some unique ideas to help me stand out,” she said.
Tatta out-fundraised the other Town Council candidates. She reported raising a total of $11,605 on her latest state campaign finance reporting form.
“I don't think my numbers would have been this high if we hadn't been able to spend money to gain attention for the campaign,” she said. “We made much more than I had expected, and that allowed us to implement some of my creative ideas that I thought would be effective but weren't typical, like the airplane banner.”
She reported paying $1,458 to Simmons Aviation, of Pawcatuck, for an airplane banner that flew over Celebrate Wallingford on Oct. 5 promoting her candidacy.
It wasn’t just the money that helped her win. She had a large team of supporters and volunteers who worked with and guided her.
“I had some veteran Wallingford town councilors working closely with me, and I love to learn from their experiences,” she said. “On a personal level, I think some traits of mine that helped were my grit, determination, the ability to listen to people and understand their views, hard work, and organization. Also, loving support at home is essential, as the campaign tends to consume your life for several months, and I was lucky to have that, too.”
She doesn’t have anything specific she’d like to introduce or propose right now, but will stick with what she felt resonated with voters—to improve and maintain the town while retaining financial stability.
Tatta currently serves as the vice chairwoman of the Wallingford Republican Town Committee and secretary of the Zoning Board of Appeals. She said she hasn’t spoken definitively to the chairmen of either group about whether she will remain in those positions.
“I've been thinking about each person who filled in the bubble under my name, and how humbling that is,” she said. “It's a huge responsibility, and I don't want to let anyone down. I think the voters knew what they can expect from me.”Introducing opportunities
Newly elected Board of Education member Autumn Allinson said Wednesday that she felt it was important to run a campaign based on honesty and that she brought who she was to the table, something she felt all candidates presented.
She added that the board did a great job in the past term and credits her win, in part, to the voters' belief that her skills matched the goals of the board.
“It's a little surreal but I feel great I had so much support and am excited to join the team,” Allinson said.
Allinson received 5,842 votes, according to the unofficial tally, or about 8 percent of the total votes cast for school board.
She reported raising $1,325 on her latest state campaign finance reporting form.
With seven years of experience in retail management and skills in the logistics of management and finance, Allinson said she believes her perspective will work well with the board.
She also said she is interested in learning from fellow board members about a variety of programs.
Allinson looks forward to introducing programs to help students navigate life after high school by working with students, parents and the board to make sure students are ready.
She would like to introduce opportunities for students to learn life skills and personal finance before they enter into "the world of credit cards and student loans."
"It's extremely important for me for kids to be prepared for that," Allinson said.
The Republican Party retained a majority on the school board Tuesday. Allinson said she believes the result to be a combination of her win and that of re-elected board member Tammy Raccio, who switched parties prior to the election.
Ultimately, Allinson said, all board members have the same mission and she looks forward to working with the incumbent board.
"I think everybody who ran and won, we have the same mission," Allinson said. "It doesn't change much. This has always been about the students."
The Town Council and school board swearing-in ceremony is scheduled for Jan. 6, 2020, in Town Hall council chambers.