November 2, 2013 01:30AM
By Andrew Ragali
WALLINGFORD — Thirteen candidates will vie for nine Town Council seats during Tuesday’s election. The professional backgrounds of the seven Republicans and six Democrats vary, providing for a ballot that offers a diverse skill set.
Of the thirteen candidates, five are independent business owners. Nine have experience on the council, whether it’s during the current term or in past decades. For example, Raymond Rys, a Republican candidate, was first elected to the council in 1983. He served seven terms from 1983 until 2003. Since 2003, the retired Rys remained involved in politics, serving on the Charter Revision Commission formed in 2008. He also sits as an alternate on the Zoning Board of Appeals.
“I don’t make promises,” Rys said. “I’ll just do the best I can for residents, listen and bring their issues before the council.”
Vincent Testa, a Democratic candidate, gave up his seat on the council two years ago after serving four terms on the council between 2004 and 2012 to run for mayor. He lost to incumbent Mayor William W. Dickinson Jr. Between 2008 and 2010, he was the council’s vice chairman. Before that, he served on the Board of Education and the Inland Wetlands and Watercourses Commission. Testa is a former mortgage broker who now teaches.
“It’s to continue doing what I’ve done in the past,” Testa said. “I’ll look to keep a close eye on the town’s budget and the types of town services we commit ourselves to.”
Two Democratic and five Republican incumbents are seeking reelection. Democratic incumbents include retired schoolteacher and former school board member Nick Economopoulos. He seeks to promote fidelity and honesty in Town Hall. Also running for the Democrats is John Sullivan, who manages labor and attendance at AT&T.
“We have to make sure we are stable financially,” Sullivan said of the town’s future. “That’s always the biggest concern.”
Sullivan said the town needs to tighten its belt. Residents shouldn’t buy into the “spin masters” at the state and federal level who accuse Democrats of excessive taxing and spending.
“That’s not the local level,” he said. “It truly troubles me when I meet people who have adopted the spin master’s view. It’s just not true.”
Republicans put forth an experienced group for Tuesday’s election. Bob Parisi, the current council chairman, has more than 30 years of experience on the council. Parisi, who is retired, said that if elected, he hopes to increase drug education in town and would like to concentrate on concerns with the town’s zoning regulations.
Board of Education member Christine Mansfield is looking to become a new presence on the council. Mansfield owns Discovery Training Services, a technology consulting firm. It’s her business experience, Mansfield said, that she hopes to utilize on the council to create partnerships.
“I’m partnership driven,” she said.
Mansfield would look to work with elected officials across the aisle to better the town. Her ideology is to sustain, preserve and grow. Mansfield said her goal is to sustain existing services, preserve community safety and education, and grow certain aspects of the town, such as technology.
The Democratic slate includes Debi Reynolds, who is making her second run for council. She ran unsuccessfully in 2011. Reynolds, a business analyst at The Hartford, said town employees need to have increased accountability. The town must also plan for future development, she said
In search of a second term on the council is Republican Tom Laffin, who seeks election because he wants to “keep being there for the town.”
The former Board of Education member works as a caseload manager at Bachand & Bachand, a law firm. Laffin said the town has done a good job governing in recent years, but “it can always be better, and I feel like I want to be there to help make it better.”
Craig Fishbein, another Republican, seeks his third term on the council. Professionally, Fishbein is an attorney at Fishbein Law Firm, which is located across the street from Town Hall. Politically, his platform is smaller government, lower taxes and less government interference in the affairs of citizens.
Also seeking a third term is Republican Vinny Cervoni. Cervoni is an attorney and owns his own practice, Cervoni Law Office, located downtown. His platform is downtown revitalization, improved technology and keeping tax increases minimal.
Newcomers to the Democratic slate this election are Dana Camp and Larry Russo, Jr. Camp owns an information technology consulting firm on Center Street titled BITS. Camp’s platform includes increased planning for future development, increased accountability for town employees, and looking for new opportunities to increase efficiency. Russo is also a business owner and runs 9 Yards Property Care. The former president of the Wallingford Little League, Russo is running to give back to the town he grew up in. He said he would be a steward for good finances, education, public safety and elderly care.
Republican John LeTourneau, who owns Wallingford Lamp and Shade, seeks a fourth term. LeTourneau is concerned about economic development and the town’s readiness for the new train station slated for construction in 2016.
“I’m running again because I feel I have unfinished work, and it’s no different now than when I ran in 2007,” he said. “It’s making the commitment to the people of Wallingford to bring them the best possible government that I can.”