SOUTHINGTON — Democrats took a majority on the Town Council for the first time in eight years Tuesday night and Republicans held their majority on the Board of Education.
Democratic incumbents Chris Palmieri, John Barry and Dawn Miceli retained their seats. Democratic newcomers Chris Poulos and Kelly Morrissey also took spots.
Republican incumbents Michael Riccio, Tom Lombardi and Victorian Triano also won their bids for re-election. Republican challenger William Dziedzic took a seat on the council.
Jack Perry, an unaffiliated candidate for council, failed in his election bid, falling less than 100 votes short of taking the ninth council seat.
Bob Berkmoes, Democratic Town Committee chairman, was confident throughout the campaign about taking the majority.
“I am so proud of our candidates. They did a tremendous job,” he said. “You meet and talk to these guys and you know they’re winners.”
“We always knew we had a strong team. We felt confident we could take a majority,” Berkmoes said.
Brian Callahan, Republican Town Committee chairman, was upset about Tuesday night’s results.
“The results are the result of the false accusations against our incumbents,” he said, referring to a Freedom of Information complaint filed by Democratic Board of Finance member John Moise against the council. Moise said a meeting of Republican councilors included a Democrat by phone, a charge disputed by the Republicans at the meeting and the Democratic councilor, Dawn Miceli.
Callahan also placed blame with Cheryl Lounsbury and Edward Pocock III, Republican councilors who didn’t run for reelection and who had been in public disagreements with party council leaders over several issues such as ethics reform and the appointment of a town manager.
“Those people caused the upheaval in the party,” Callahan said.
Berkmoes said his father was a staunch Democrat.
“This night brings back memories of my dad,” he said. “It’s a proud moment for me.”
Now in control of the council, Berkmoes said the party was open to ideas from anyone.
“We’re a party that listens, a party that understands,” he said. “You’re going to see a lot of great things happening in this town.”
Despite a narrow loss, Perry said Tuesday’s results showed how much support Southington residents would give to an unaffiliated candidate. He also said he’d be back on the ballot in two years to try again.
“I’ll still be active, I’m not going anywhere,” he said. “I’m happy with the amount of support that I got.”
Perry placed 10th out of 13 candidates.
“There are a lot of people who expect me to run again,” he said. “This is just the beginning of me getting involved.”
Berkmoes also credited Perry with running a strong campaign.
“He fought a good campaign. We just fought a little harder,” he said.
Republicans maintained a majority on the Board of Education and the Board of Finance during Tuesday’s elections.