Smart Growth for Vernon, CT
Republicans come out ahead in Vernon

By Max Bakke
Journal Inquirer
Published: Wednesday, November 4, 2009 12:09 PM EST

VERNON — Republican Mayor Jason L. McCoy defeated Democratic challenger Michele Arn to win a second term, while Republicans retained their majorities on both the Town Council and Board of Education in Tuesday’s municipal election.

McCoy received 2,714 votes to Arn’s 2,549, according to official results. Republican Councilman Dan Champagne, a local police officer, received 3,120 votes — the most for any council candidate.

“My grandfather called me, and he was the last Republican to have two terms as mayor,” McCoy said of Frank McCoy Sr., who served as Vernon’s mayor in the 1970s. “And he was happy.”

Residents are “satisfied with the results,” McCoy added. “We had two years of results and we’re going to have two more years of results.”

Champagne is joined on the council by fellow Republicans Brian Motola, Mark Etre, Dan Anderson, Bill Campbell, Harry Thomas, Judy Mitchell Hany, and Sean O’Shea.

Democrats earning council seats are incumbents Michael Winkler, Pauline Schaefer, Marie Herbst, and newcomer James Krupienski. Krupienski replaces Councilman Bill Fox, who didn’t seek re-election this year.

“There’s going to be a lot of hard fights, that’s for sure,” Krupienski said. “But I’m going to be trying and do what’s best for the town and future generations.”

Arn congratulated supporters on a difficult campaign at Democratic headquarters Tuesday night.

“Everybody worked hard,” she said. “Nobody should go away disappointed.”

Turnout for the election was lighter than recent history, with only 30 percent of voters casting ballots, officials said.

The past two years of McCoy’s administration have been marked by intense council debate, partisan bickering, and accusations by Democrats of cronyism in the mayor’s hiring practices.

Republicans said voters were able to look through the ad hominem attacks, however, and see positive results on the council.

“I think the voters like the direction the town is going into,” said Motola, the town’s deputy mayor.

People “are reasonably satisfied,” said John Anderson, the Republicans’ campaign manager. Democrats, he said, “didn’t really have a lot to run on.”

Democrats however, remained skeptical, striking a foreboding tone and warning that two more years with McCoy at the helm could damage the town further.

“I do believe he’ll be sorry he won tonight,” Winkler said of McCoy. Republicans “distortions of the truth were more profound. It’ll take us another two years to reveal what’s going on.”

On the Board of Education, where Republicans hold an 6-3 majority, Republicans George Apel, Vicky Rispoli, and Chairwoman Anne Fischer won re-election, along with Democrats Kyle Percy and Paul Stansel. Republican Laura Bush, an elementary school teacher in Andover, also won a seat.

“We’re just very excited that we can continue the work that we’re doing and can continue this process in finding a new superintendent,” said Fischer, adding that balancing student needs with flat or dwindling revenue will challenge the board in the coming year.

Percy, the treasurer of the Skinner Road Parent Teacher Organization, said he’s eager to cooperate with fellow members of the school board and looks to move the group in a nonpartisan direction.

“It all comes down to working for the kids of Vernon without trying to tick the taxpayers off,” he said.

New members will be sworn in prior to Monday’s school board meeting.

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