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All six Republican candidates win seats on Wallingford school board

WALLINGFORD — All six Republican candidates for the Board of Education were elected Tuesday night, expanding the party’s majority.

Republican newcomer Chris Shortell and political veteran Karen Hlavac joined incumbents Chet Miller, Roxane McKay, Michael Brooder and Joe Marrone in winning seats on the board.

Three of the four Democratic incumbents were re-elected.

Hlavac previously served on the Board of Education for nine years, including stints as chairwoman and vice chairwoman.

Democratic incumbents Michael Votto, Kathy Castelli and Jay Cei were re-elected. Patrick Reynolds lost his seat. The two Democratic newcomers, Patricia Mills and Lorraine Connelly, were not elected.

Democratic candidates for Town Council and the Board of Education, along with family members and other supporters, filled the Wallingford Italian Club Tuesday night. They applauded when it was announced that the polls were closed.

After the numbers came in, McKay, the board chairwoman, stopped by Democratic headquarters to talk to the candidates. McKay said her re-election to the board “feels fantastic.”

Hlavac said she was “delighted” to return to the board. Shortell, who will serve his first term on the Board of Education, said his election was “very humbling.”

“I’m very excited to start, and I have a lot to learn,” Shortell said. “I was nervous until the last number.”

As the projector went on, displaying a spreadsheet of the Democratic and Republican candidates, everyone stood and the room became quiet.

As the numbers for each district were read, there were gasps and sighs as it became evident there was strong support for the Republicans.

After the results for six districts were read, it was clear to those in the room that the Republicans would retain their majority on the board. But on the Democratic side, it was a close race between the four incumbents — Votto, Castelli, Cei and Reynolds.

Although the Democrats lost a seat on the board, Votto said it’s “still three voices” and that “we can still make a change.”

And even though the entire Republican slate for Board of Education was elected, Castelli said it didn’t matter in the long run.

“It’s a blended board, there’s no politics,” she said. “It’s all about the kids, and we’ll continue with that.”

“We’ll function just fine. And Karen is an experienced board member, so there won’t be any learning curve.”

Although disappointed by the results, Cei said the numbers don’t “reflect what the town has to offer” and encouraged his political companions not to be “disheartened.”

“We’ll work the hardest to reflect the values we have,” he said.

Due to work obligations, Reynolds wasn’t at Democratic headquarters. Connelly did not want to comment, saying only that she needed to “process” the events of the night because it was her first time running.

evo@record-journal.com (203) 317-2235 Twitter: @EricVoRJ



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