Camillo Wins and Carries BET Republicans Across Finish Line; Voting Moms Win the Day on the RTM

Tuesday’s municipal election results in Greenwich were a disappointment for Democrats who a year ago celebrated a sweep of the House delegation with Hector Arzeno (D-151) Rachel Khanna (D-149) and Steve Meskers (D-150) and a recount followed by narrow loss by Trevor Crow to Ryan Fazio for State Senate (R-36).

The Democrats again gathered at the Old Greenwich Social Club while Republicans convened at the Arch Street Teen Center.

The winners at the top of their tickets were Republicans First Selectman Fred Camillo, Selectwoman Lauren Rabin, Town Clerk Jackie Budkins and Tax Collector Heather Smeriglio. All were re-elected.

Victorious Fred Camillo after learning he had won a third term. Nov 7, 2023 Photo: James Bonney

GFP reporter James Bonney interviewed Fred Camillo following his victory, asking him how he would differentiate his third term from his previous two terms.

“We want to build on what we started with public safety, pedestrian safety, and public-private partnerships, but there’s also some new things we will unveil in the next few weeks,” Camillo replied.  “We’re really excited. We look at it as a new beginning, even though we’re trying to build on what we’ve done in the past, and incorporate it with  a bright, bold future.”

Asked how the contest compared to previous races, Camillo replied, “It was tougher because they were more negative. There was a lot  more misinformation.”

“Times have evolved,  and Greenwich has evolved with it,” he continued. “That’s why  we are the safest town in Connecticut and the first age-friendly designation in Connecticut. The lowest mill rate in Connecticut. Triple A credit rating. But we’re not satisfied. I’m looking forward to working with guys like Dave Alfano on the BET and there is a lot more to do.”

Lastly, Bonney asked Camillo what he was looking forward to in his third term. Camillo joked: “I look forward to serving. And some sleep, sleep, sleep.”

In her remarks upon learning she’d won another term, Heather Smeriglio said, “First I like to thank my Lord savior.”

Smeriglio also thanked her family and mentor Tod Laudonia.

Town Clerk Jackie Budkins who won a second term said the day had been awesome, crazy, but exciting.

“I’m so happy that we’re victorious,” she said, going on to thank family members, Treasurer Joe Romano and her team: Paul Cappiali, Debra Hess, Ed Dadakis and Ryan Fazio.

“It’s been such an honor and such a pleasure to run with Heather, and of course Lauren and Fred.”

In her brief remarks, Lauren Rabin noted Tuesday’s election was her fourth successful competitive townwide race.

“Fred carries this ticket. Make no mistake about it,” Rabin said.

“And to our opponents who did not win tonight: No man is a failure who has friends,” she said. “And finally, it was fun.”

Lauren Rabin at the Arch Street Teen Center reacts to learning she earned a third term as Selectwoman. Nov 7,2023 Photo: James Bonney

Heather Smeriglio, Ed Dadakis, Fred Camillo, Jackie Budkins and Lauren Rabin at the Arch Street Teen Center. Nov 7, 2023 Photo: James Bonney

Over at the Old Greenwich Social Club, Democratic candidate for First Selectperson Laura Erickson said in a concession speech, “I wouldn’t have traded this experience for anything. I want to congratulate Fred Camillo on his third term. I want to congratulate Janet for her role continuing on the Board of Selectmen. I want to congratulate Lauren Rabin.”

“When we set out to do this, we said we were going to be truth-tellers, we were going to talk about the issues that matter to people and solutions for the long-term – not just short term sound bites. And I really think we accomplished that.”

“They’ll talk about the ‘stop the high-rise’ signs and all that other nonsense, but at the end of the day, the other side seems to be more successful in turning out their votes. I don’t know what is in their secret sauce.”

“We gave it our all,” Erickson continued. “We had an incredible mobilization. Those of you who weren’t involved in DTC 10 or 15 years ago, you have no idea how far we’ve come and how far we’ll continue to go.  Next year is an important year for us.”

As for the Democrats not attaining a larger number of votes than the Republican candidates for the Board of Estimate and Taxation (and therefore not earning the all-important tie-breaking vote), Anthony Moor from the DTC, noted that for 98 years out of the last 100 the town had a Republican controlled BET.

“That doesn’t get won overnight. That gets won over time,” he said.  “This is not a time to slink away. It’s the end of the beginning.”

Ms Stone McGuigan praised Ms Erickson. “She is such a natural leader. I am feeling sorry for all of us and she is lifting everybody up.”

“We didn’t lose. I feel like the Greenwich community lost tonight, but we’re going to keep working for you,” Stone McGuigan said. “Everything we said we’d fight for for you, we’re going to keep fighting. Our schools, our services, our sustainability, safety – all of that.”

“I will continue to be your voice,” she added. “I will say what needs to be said. I will continue to work for good governance, transparency, and public engagement.”

BET member Leslie Moriarty who will serve another term, said she was disappointed that the Democrats did not win the tie-breaking vote.

“Our job is harder, but just know that we will continue to fight for what we believe in,” Moriarty said. “We are an unbelievable team – the qualities and qualifications just far surpassed what’s on the other side. We will keep telling them the right things to do.”

“We have a lot to build on, we have an election next year for our state reps, and then we’re back at again for our municipals in two years,” she added.

State Rep Steve Meskers (D-150) shared a few words.

“The effort made by our BET, by our BOE, by our Selectpeople in the campaign was robust. We faced a defeat,” he said. “I’m disappointed by the results but I look forward to a robust campaign next November. The questions that are going to arise are on our schools, on our education policy, on our infrastructure, and as simple as what flags we fly in front of town hall.”

“You need to be energized in the coming months because the battle is not over. Our messaging needs to be resolute. Our message of inclusion, of diversity and equity can’t stop.”

“I ask you to join us in the next battle, because the battle is coming. It is the battle for the soul of Greenwich, and it’s a battle we face across the country,” Meskers said.”We are not vanquished. We are not defeated. We faced a setback, but we will prevail.”

Mixed emotions among the crowd of Democrats gathered at the Old Greenwich Social Club. Nov 7, 2023 Photo: Leslie Yager

Representative Town Meeting

Democrats were pleased to learn that 170 of the 182 candidates for RTM who were associated with what Mr. Moor called a bi-partisan and ‘centrist voice,’ earned spots on the 230 member body. These were for the most part the candidates endorsed by the Voting Moms.

Some of the upsets on RTM included people with name recognition: Michael Spilo, Joe Montanaro, Randy Caravella, Aldo Pascarella, Eileen Toretta, Mark Kordick, Carl Carlson, Lihong Zhang, Bill Lewis, Adele Caroll, Phil Dodson, Gail Lauridsen, Joe Solari, Tina and James Volkwein, Wilma Nacinovich, Marla Weston, Nancy Burke, Jill Oberlander (write-in) and Svetlana Wasserman.

Note: District 2 where there were 14 seats and 24 candidates, there was a three way tie for the last 3 spots going to Laura Gladstone, Aldo Pascarella and Blake Delany, each with 324 votes.

“What that means is that there is a check on that Republican BET,” Moor said. “We have a Democratic slate of BET members that are smarter than the positions they just inherited. They’re going to have to be out there telling us and the rest of Greenwich what the result is of their vote. They own it now.”

The results are available on the town website as follows:

All Races Except RTM

RTM Races

According to the LWV, more than 50% of registered voters exercised their right to vote on Tuesday, which represents one of the highest voter turnouts for a municipal election in many years.

Democrat Leslie Moriarty at the Old Greenwich Social Club reacts to the news that the Republicans will retain control of the Board of Estimate and Taxation. Nov 7, 2023 Photo: Leslie Yager

Laura Erickson, Democratic candidate for First Selectperson and Janet Stone McGuigan, candidate for Selectperson on the Board of Selectmen. Nov 7, 202 Photo: Leslie Yager

Leslie Moriarty addressed the Democrats at the Old Greenwich Social Club. Nov 7, 2023 Photo: Leslie Yager

Anthony Moor addressed the Democrats at the Old Greenwich Social Club. Nov 7, 2023 photo: Leslie Yager