Chairman says Blake has 'made the city proud'

Four-term incumbent Mayor Ben Blake accepted the Democratic Town Committee’s nomination to run for a fifth term during a convention July 22 at Milford City Hall, and current alderman Karen Fortunati accepted the nomination to run alongside him for the position of city clerk.

Town Committee Chairman Rich Smith nominated Blake for the run, saying several times that Blake has made the party and the city proud.

“He’s made us all proud these eight years,” Smith said, citing several publications that have recently named Milford one of the top cities in which to live.

He said Blake works tirelessly for the city and “it’s a labor of love.”

“Everyone agrees that when you think of Ben, you think of Milford,” Smith said.

Smith also said now is an important time in the country to stand up for Democratic ideals and values.

Blake’s mother, Anne (Greenstone) Blake, also spoke, saying she has watched in awe over the years at the amount of time and energy her son has devoted to running the city.

When the incumbent mayor took to the podium to accept his party’s support, he said, as he has said at past events, “The position of mayor of Milford is the best job on Earth.”

He talked about accomplishments over the past years, including four straight years of tax cuts.

“That’s unheard of,” Blake said. “No one else can boast back to back to back consecutive tax cuts.”

He said streamlining business has led to cost savings, and described a “tidal wave of new economic development” in the city, saying that last year 465 new businesses moved into Milford.

Milford, he added, has the top grand list in New Haven County.

Blake also pointed to the city’s public works director in the back of the auditorium and noted new amenities in town that the public works department has helped build, including a splash pad at Eisenhower Park and an expanded city dog park, among other recreational improvements.

“We’re doing a whole heck of a lot to enhance Milford,” Blake said.

During Monday’s convention, Blake also talked about the city’s AAA bond rating, and invited his fellow Democrats to join him “as we secure Milford’s future success.”

As Blake received overwhelming support from his party during Monday’s convention, so too did Fortunati in her run for city clerk.

Democratic Alderman Bryan Anderson nominated Fortunati to run for city clerk against Republican incumbent Joanne Rohrig. He described Fortunati as enthusiastic, intelligent, competent, and with a spirit of volunteerism. Anderson said Fortunati introduced legislation that provided a local property tax cut for widows and families of fallen first responders, she revitalized and chairs the Recycling Task Force, helped the Downtown Milford Businsess Association organize its largest Pirate’s Day festival and helped secure a new location for the downtown farmers market.

Public programs manager at the Pequot Library in Southport, Fortunati has several degrees, including a juris doctorate from Georgetown University Law Center, is a former prosecutor specializing in narcotics and juvenile offenders and former attorney specializing in criminal defense. She also is author of a young adult novel, Weight of Zero.

School board Chairman Susan Glennon seconded the nomination, saying that Fortunati is a relative newcomer to Milford and the Democratic Town Committee but quickly made her mark on the community.

“I feel she is who we need in this position and she will excel at it,” Glennon said.

Fortunati, who moved to Milford about six years ago, said that while she learned a lot as an alderman, the thing that has most impressed her are the people in Milford.

“The thing that links all of us is the great love for this city, and that is what inspired me to take the next step,” Fortunati said.

She gave a shout out to Blake before stepping away from the podium. “You are a fearless leader, and bringing Milford to heights we’ve never seen before,” Fortunati said.

Mayor Blake is being challenged by Republican Alderman Dan German. German, reached by phone after the Democrats’ event, said that while taxes have gone down modestly over the past four years, the tax-cutting measures may cause problems down the road. German said the mayor transferred $9.3 million from the city’s undesignated account to keep taxes low, and said, “that’s a huge amount, more than we transferred in the past.”

German also said the city’s pension obligation funds were less than what they should have been and that there are a number of budgeted city positions that are not filled.

Following is a list of additional candidates running on the Democratic ticket.

District 1

Board of Aldermen: Laura Fetter and Jay Zammiello

Board of Education: Ray Arnold and David Fetter

Planning and Zoning: Joe Castignoli

District 2

Board of Aldermen: Ward Willis and Janet Golden

Board of Education: Susan Glennon and Nicole Wasson

Planning and Zoning: John Mortimer

District 3

Board of Aldermen: Frank Smith and Marty Hardiman

Board of Education: Warren Pawlowski and Una Petroske

Planning and Zoning: C. Robert Satti Jr.

District 4

Board of Aldermen: Philip J. Vetro and Tony Sutton

Board of Education: Rita Hennessey and Cindy Wolfe Boynton

Planning and Zoning: Nancy Austin

District 5

Board of Aldermen: Ellen Beatty and Greg Harla

Board of Education: Cynthia Twiss and Adam DeYoung

Planning and Zoning: Brett Broesder