Woodbridge election: Heller wins

WOODBRIDGE >> Longtime Deputy First Selectwoman Beth Heller, a Democrat, cruised to victory in Monday’s election to win the first selectman’s seat over Republican Tony Anastasio.

Town Clerk Stephanie Ciarleglio said the tally was 1,820 for Heller and 1,454 for Anastasio.

For results in Woodbridge, and in Bethany, where Derrylyn Gorski took the top spot, go to Page 7.

The two faced off in an election in which there was no incumbent because two-term First Selectwoman Ellen Scalettar chose not to seek re-election so she could spend more time with family.

Neither Heller nor Anastasio could be reached for comment Monday.

Heller said during the election that she sees tough challenges ahead — including from state funding cuts — but she considers them opportunities to build consensus and get things done.

Heller, along with her husband of 40 years, Dr. Allen Heller, raised their three sons in town. Decades ago through parent-related involvement such as PTO, she got her start in serving residents through numerous boards and commissions.

Heller joined the Board of Selectmen in 2008, became deputy first selectman in 2009 and served in the top spot briefly after the death in 2013 of First Selectman Ed Sheehy. She said she didn’t run in that special election because her mother needed assistance.

One of the most controversial issues in town the last two years has been what to do with the Country Club of Woodbridge building and property, purchased by the town several years ago after its owner had financial problems.

Heller has said she personally favors using the property for recreation, but says the question should be put to a referendum so the residents can decide. No matter what the outcome, she said there should be “strict limitations on development.” Heller also wants the pool at the old country club to remain open for residents.

Heller said in light of probable state funding cuts to Woodbridge, she will look at new approaches to managing resources, such as: vendor consolidation; eliminating redundancies; shared services with neighboring towns and school districts to maximize economy of scale; expansion of green energy; enhancement of efficiency to decrease utility costs; and renewed focus on increasing the commercial tax base.

For the commercial tax base, Heller said she’ll look to partner with the business community and address their needs to promote success.

Heller has said she doesn’t like partisanship. “Town government is best when we work collaboratively.”