Whether it was a reaction to what’s happening in Washington or not, voters in Woodbridge came out in force for the municipal elections May 1 and voted Democrats into office, from the top of the ticket to every other board on the ballot.
Democrat Selectman Beth Heller prevailed, with a vote count of 1,820, over Selectman Tony Anastasio, who received 1,454 votes. “I want to congratulate Beth and every candidate that ran for elected office,” Anastasio said after the election. “I know how hard it is,” to run a campaign, he said. He also expressed his hope and best wishes they will do what is in the best interest of Woodbridge residents and every taxpayer in town.
The Democrats were cheering their success on election night. “She ran a great campaign,” said one fan in the crowd. “She did a hell of a job.”
Karen Cusick, chairman of the Democratic Town Committee, was happy, but humble in her response. “I am so proud of the whole process,” she said, reflecting on the past campaign season. This election showed that “there is more that unites us than divides us,” she said, cheering for “Team Woodbridge”.
With an overall voter participation rate of 47% this year vs. 50% two years ago, the percentages actually belie the total vote count, which was higher this year as compared to two years ago. In all, 3,307 cast votes this year versus 2,973 in 2015, according to the election summary reports filed with the state. Broken down by party, participation was up across the board, Democrats (1,396 this year vs. 1,179 in 2015), Republicans (832 vs. 803 in 2015) and Unaffiliated (1,054 this year vs. 977 in 2015). Woodbridge voters are registered as follows: 2,882 Unaffiliated/2,591 Democrat/1,462 Republicans.
The town not only will have a new first selectman, but in addition she will have the support of a whole new Board of Selectmen. Come July 1, the board will consist of Joseph Crisco (D), Teri Schatz (D) and Mica Cardozo (D); David Lober (U) and the only holdover from the current board, Joe Dey ®. [Beth Heller is also a current member of the board.]
Heller said she is looking forward to working with the new board to tackle the issues that are awaiting them. Her first priority for this term will be to come up with a plan for the Country Club of Woodbridge property that is suitable for referendum.
Anastasio will continue to volunteer in town, taking up the presidency of the Woodbridge Rotary Club this summer. He speaks of his long years of service volunteering with energy and enthusiasm. “It’s a quality of life issue,” he said. “After all, I met my wife when I was on the board of Big Brothers Big Sisters.” Volunteering brings benefits not only for the people who depend on an organization, but it’s good for yourself, he said.
As for the newly elected Board of Selectmen, its first responsibility will be to fill boards and commissions in accordance with state minority representation laws. The Democratic and the Republican Town committees are inviting residents to submit their resumes to be considered for a seat on a board or commission. The town committees then make a recommendation to the Board of Selectmen.
The swearing-in ceremony is scheduled for Thursday, June 29, at 4 p.m. Weather permitting, it will take place on the lawn across from Town Hall, in front of the gazebo.
By Bettina Thiel – Woodbridge Town News Correspondent
Photo 1: “Thumbs up: Beth Heller, with her running mates Joe Crisco and Mica Cardozo on election night.”
Photo 2: “Democrats cheer as their candidates win back seats they had lost two years ago.”