Balestracci leads Dems to Guilford victory

Rachael Scarborough King, Register Staff
11/07/2007

GUILFORD — First Selectman Carl Balestracci, a Democrat, easily won re-election over Republican challenger Ken Wilson by a vote of 3,353 to 2,849, according to unofficial election results Tuesday night.

The Democratic ticket had a winning night overall, maintaining majorities on the Board of Selectmen, Board of Finance and Board of Education.

“I’m absolutely elated,” Balestracci said inside the Democrats’ busy party headquarters Tuesday night. “I think it’s so important that the whole team won. It’s just, I think, a vindication of the excellent job that everyone’s been doing.”

Balestracci, 67, has been on the Board of Selectmen for the past six years. He was elected first selectman in 2001, became a member of the Board of Selectmen in 2003 and was re-elected first selectman in 2005.

Wilson, 55, is a retired manager with AT&T who worked as a volunteer firefighter in Guilford for 22 years. He is the vice chairman of the Board of Fire Commissioners and a former member of the Parks and Recreation Commission.

“I ran a clean race — I didn’t do any mudslinging,” Wilson said Tuesday night. “The voters spoke and now they’ve got an administration they have to work with for the next two years.”

Both men grew up in Guilford and cited their affection for their hometown as a motivation in running for first selectman.

The race had become heated in recent weeks, with each side accusing the other of playing dirty politics. Democrats criticized Republican Town Committee Chairman Rich Evans for appearing on a public access program in which one speaker called Balestracci’s participation in a peace vigil “treason.” The Republican group countered that the Democrats were distorting the participation of Evans, who discussed the Board of Education race and left before the controversial comments.

“I know there was a lot of confusing information that went back and forth during the campaign, but I think we stood on our record, we stood on our campaign plan and I think the voters of Guilford rewarded our efforts,” Balestracci said.

During the campaign, both candidates said that some of their top priorities were the development of the “rock pile” site, continued efforts to preserve open space in the town and an ongoing revision of the town charter.

Also Tuesday, incumbent Democrats Sal Catardi and Veronica Wallace were re-elected to the Board of Selectmen. On the Republican ticket, incumbent Joseph Mazza and Board of Education member Cynthia Cartier were also elected to seats on the board.

Wilson, who would have earned a seat on the five-member Board of Selectmen if he had won more votes than any of the four candidates for the board, lost to Cartier by seven votes, according to the town clerk’s office.

“I’m so pleased that (Cartier) is on the board,” Wilson said. “She’s a very, very qualified individual who will challenge the status quo.”

In the Board of Education race, Democratic incumbents Bill Bloss, Barbara Dudley and Ted Zuse were all re-elected. Republican Mary Beeman also won a seat. In the race to fill a two-year vacancy, the body’s only competitive seat, Democratic incumbent Kathy Nolan beat Emelinda Sanacora.

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