By Jeffery Kurz
The election of Republican Vinny Cervoni as Wallingford’s new mayor offers the opportunity for bipartisan accord and progress when it comes to the town’s pressing issues. You could say something similar for his Democratic opponent, Riley O’Connell, but Cervoni’s experience as a municipal leader, which includes a decade as Town Council chairman, makes it extra encouraging in this regard.
One of the challenging aspects of our system of governing is an election cycle that finds opposing parties going at each other before an election— sometimes in a not very nice way, as evidenced by the recent mayoral contest — yet also wants the parties to try to get along with one another once the electoral decision has been made. It’s a tall order, but it’s also a magic trick of democracy, part of the peaceful transition of power that is one of the glories of the way we go about things.
What would be great is if the political parties could rally behind the new mayor, the first new mayor in 40 years, toward the greater interests of the town, which include some pressing issues, as in infrastructure and, yes, Community Pool, and the train station, etc.
What would be really great is if the troubles on display following the 2021 municipal election could be set aside in the greater interest of doing the town some good. At the start of 2022, the resignation of a Democratic town councilor spurred replacement action, which spurred discord. A Democrat needed to be the replacement, but after that there didn’t seem to be much agreement.
Democrats thought the next top vote getter in the party should get the nod, but that recommendation was set aside. Republicans appointed Democrat Jason Zandri instead. Illness had prevented Zandri from collecting enough signatures to qualify as a candidate, and part of the reasoning was that if he had been able to he would have won. My feeling was that if you’re going to make decisions based on such assumptions there’s not much point in holding elections.
Cervoni offered this point of view in an opinion piece appearing in these pages Jan. 22, 2022: “Jason Zandri had a history of successful elections with reasonably high vote totals. All indications would leave one to believe that, had he been on the ballot, he would have won re-election. For those reasons, it is disingenuous to suggest that the only way the council could respect the will of the voters was to exclude Jason Zandri.”
That opinion piece ran following a particularly contentious council meeting. Even if you didn’t agree with the points being made, it was an admirable effort to explain what was going on put forward by a town leader showing responsibility.
Politicians can be like athletes when it comes to offering comments, speaking a lot without saying all that much, particularly when it comes to an election. But Cervoni was not running for office when he had this to say, at the end of that January 2022 opinion piece: “In my time on the council, things have not always gone the way I've wanted. Things have not always gone the way members of the public would have liked. However, it is our reaction in the face of adversity that displays our character.”
Yes, that’s a way to go forward.
Reach Jeffery Kurz at firstname.lastname@example.org.