Vincent Testa Jr., a Democrat, watches as the results come in at The Italian Club in Wallingford. Testa was elected to the Town Council. | Eric Vo / Record-Journal
November 10, 2013 03:17PM
By Andrew Ragali
WALLINGFORD—As a result of Tuesday’s election, three new members will join the Town Council in January.
Christine Mansfield, a Republican Board of Education member, earned the sixth-most votes of the 13 Town Council candidates seeking office. She will work alongside Republican incumbents Bob Parisi, Tom Laffin, Vinny Cervoni, John LeTourneau and Craig Fishbein on the council.
Vincent Testa, a Democrat who formerly served four-terms on the council and unsuccessfully ran for mayor in 2012, ranked seventh among vote-getters. He will be reunited with Democratic incumbent John Sullivan, with whom he served from 2010 to 2012. The freshest face on the council will be Democrat Larry Russo, who has no prior political background, but is well-known for his service with the Wallingford Little League.
The initial meeting of the new Town Council is the first Monday in January, said Cervoni, who serves as the council’s vice-chairman. In the meantime, the standing council will continue its regular meeting schedule. During the January meeting, the council selects the chairman and vice-chairman for the next two years, Cervoni said.
Over the next two months, Russo said he will work to “get up to speed on guidelines and regulations that govern the council.”
“There’s going to be a learning curve,” he said.
Russo said he is extremely grateful for the town’s support, and is humbled. He was president of Wallingford Little League for eight years and has been involved with the league for 18 years overall. Name recognition from his time with the league probably helped with voters, Russo said.
“I’d like to think the people who know me the best talked to people and told them how I can serve,” Russo said.
For those who did not vote for him on Tuesday, “I’ll do my best to get their vote next time,” he said.
Between now and January, Russo plans on attending all council meetings to learn about issues. Working alongside Sullivan and Testa and across the aisle with Republicans, Russo will look to do the best he can for the community.
“That’s why I hope people elected me,” he said.
Sullivan said he and Testa will help guide Russo along during his first-term on the council.
“I’ll encourage him to speak up and not to suppress his thoughts,” Sullivan said. “I think he’ll be very comfortable in the role. We’re there to help him.”
From his experience, Russo will bring key insights into finances, Sullivan said. “He’ll have a keen eye on understanding finances and budgeting.”
The nine councilors who will begin serving together in January are an “A-team,” said Mansfield.
Working on the Board of Education, which produces the largest portion of the town’s budget, Mansfield said she is already familiar with budgeting procedure and how to successfully work together with fellow councilors on both sides of the aisle. Either through her technology consulting business or through community organizations, Mansfield said she already has a working relationship with all the councilors she will serve with.
Mansfield said she will look to utilize “untapped potential when looking at technology and efficiency ideas and initiatives, and potentially bring some things to Town Hall.”
It was a humbling experience winning a seat on the council, Mansfield said. On Tuesday night, Mansfield was surrounded by family members at Gaetano’s Tavern on Main, where Republicans watched election results come in.
“We enjoy a very passionate and loud group of supporters,” she said. “That’s been our story the whole time.”
Testa said he’s excited to return to the council and “get back in the swing of things.”
“It’s always exciting,” Testa said of his election. It’s disappointing that Democratic mayoral candidate Jason Zandri was handily defeated by Republican incumbent William W. Dickinson Jr., he added, but “you have to accept it.”
In the past, Testa said he has worked with Sullivan and Russo.
“And I’ve always worked with Republicans,” he said.
Being the minority party, it’s difficult to bring certain things to the table, Testa said. But in most instances when a certain idea can benefit a majority of the town, “we all work together,” he said.
Asked what he would like to accomplish, Testa said, “I’ve got some ideas; I’ll keep it at that.”
“There are things I’d like to see us pursuing,” he added. “I’ll do what I’ve done in the past, and bring u things that I think require attention.”