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Orange Voters Affirm Team Zeoli

April 4, 2024
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Orange Voters Affirm Team Zeoli
Jim Zeoli will stay on as First Selectman of Orange

Orange voters on November 7 affirmed First Selectman Jim Zeoli and the whole Republican ticket in municipal elections.  The town leadership will look very similar to what it has been for the last several years, with a few exceptions.

The Board of Selectmen will be unchanged, with incumbents Ralph Okenquist (2,576 votes), John Carangelo (2,809), Mitch Goldblatt (2,313), PJ Shanley (2,048), and Judy Wright Williams (2,644) each winning their seats back.  Democrats Mark Moyher (1864), who challenged Zeoli, and Melissa Johnston (1,749), who ran for the Board of Selectmen, will not be seated.

At the Board of Selectmen meeting the following day, November 8, Zeoli thanked the voters.  “I am honored to be doing Years 19 and 20 of serving the Town of Orange,” he said.  He also acknowledged the courage exhibited by everyone willing to participate in the process.  “Winners and losers, they all stuck their neck out,” he said.

In a phone conversation following the election, Moyher expressed gratitude for the Democratic team.  “Hopefully, in two years, we can try again,” he said.  The loss was a disappointment, he said, but “if you’re not disappointed, you shouldn’t be running.”  He said a small group of Democrats headed over to Republican headquarters after the results had been announced to concede and shake hands with the winner.  “Everything was very civil,” he said.

One interesting new face that came through during the campaign was that of Democrat Anna Mahon, who gained a seat on the Board of Finance with 2,263 votes.  As former Amity High School Principal, Mahon certainly has a lot of name recognition for someone who hasn’t held municipal office before.

Her presence on the board will stand out, not only because she will be the only woman.  She also specifically announced that she wants to help build a constructive relationship with the Amity School District.  She is currently the assistant superintendent in Brookfield.

Incumbent Republicans Kevin Houlihan (2,959 votes) and James Leahy (2,901) regained their seats on the Board of Finance with a clear majority.

The Orange Board of Education has one new member, Republican Anthony Scarinzi (2672), who will take the seat vacated by Ken Vitelli.  Other than that, all incumbents are continuing to serve on the board, namely Democrats Susan Riccio (2,153) and Betty Hadlock (2,071), and Republicans Ken Ziman (2,639) and Chairman William Kraut (2,566).

Town Plan and Zoning Republicans Judy Smith and Tom Torrenti were re-elected, with 2,942 and 2,769 votes, respectively; Democrats Scott Rogalski (1,780) and Ken Lenz (1,904) will not be seated.  However, Democrat Paul Kaplan (2,964) was elected to another four-year term, starting in 2024.

Amity Board:  Voters are sending three Republicans to represent them at the Amity Regional Board of Education, and Democrat incumbent Paul Davis, who currently chairs the board, will return as well.  The three new members are Cathy Bradley (2,733), Michael McDonough (2,550) and Dana Lombardi (2,726).  Davis, the board chairman, received 2,431 votes.

Not running for re-election were long-time Amity board members Chris Browe and Shannon Carlson, nor was Amy Tirollo.

Both the Republican Town Clerk, Mary Shaw, and Tax Collector Thomas Hurley ran unopposed and were re-elected to their posts, with 3,770 and 3,595 votes, respectively.

The constables were all elected to the post, with three Democrats (Jody Dietch, 2.055; Santo Galatioto Jr (2,118), and Randy Thomas, 2,163) and four Republicans to be sworn in.  The Republicans are Jody Daymon (2,660), Gary Palermo (2,671), Glen Papelo (2,422) and Michael Donadeo (2,572).

Poll workers on November 7 seemed to report a constant influx of voters throughout the day, although in the end voter participation showed a decline compared to the last two years.  This year, 4,935 voted out of 10,745 registered voters, for a turnout of 45.9%.  In 2021, 5,116 came out, (47.2%), and in 2019, 5,221 (50.4%).

The swearing in ceremony will take place on Friday, November 17 at 4:30 p.m. at High Plains Community Center.

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