Milford candidates in place for November election

Candidates have lined up for the November elections: Mayor Ben Blake, a Democrat, will run unopposed for his fourth term, and Republican Joanne Rohrig, who has been City Clerk since 2014, will seek reelection, challenged by State Rep. Kim Rose.

Milford’s Republicans said the mayor and the Democrats are partly to blame for their failure to field a candidate for mayor.

“We did not nominate a candidate for mayor,” said Republican Town Committee Chairman Matt Gaynor after the Party’s convention July 19. “Several people were in talks but pointed out that Milford will have a tax increase next year. State aid for municipalities will decrease.”

Gaynor said Mayor Blake “recklessly passed a budget without thinking ahead,” and he blamed the Democrats on the Board of Aldermen for approving the plan.

“As we will discuss in the coming months, Mayor Blake and the Democrats on the Board of Alderman put the citizens of Milford in a precarious position,” Gaynor said. “Blake seems to be taking his cues from Hartford and ignoring the long term fiscal health of Milford. Instead he wants to play politics.”

Democratic Town Committee Chairman Rich Smith shot back after Gaynor’s comments, saying that Blake has led the city well.

“Mayor Blake and the Democratic aldermen have passed two consecutive tax reductions despite Republicans’ attempts to raise taxes,” Smith responded. “Mr. Gaynor seems unhappy about the tax cuts and accuses Democrats of rubber-stamping the mayor's budget. In fact, the Board of Finance and the Board of Aldermen did make some changes to the budget so there was no ‘rubber stamping,’ but they remained true to the mayor's intention to pass a much needed tax cut on to the people of Milford, for the second time in as many years.”

Smith said Blake has worked for, and earned, the highest possible bond rating, AAA. He said at the same time the city has seen an unprecedented number of new businesses come to Milford.

“Milford is vital, exciting and a great city to live in, getting better every day,” Smith said.  

City Clerk Joanne Lasse Rohrig was nominated for a third term by Registrar Deb Fellenbaum and seconded by State Rep. Pam Staneski. Rohrig took over the position after former City Clerk Linda Stock died, and then she was elected to the post in 2015.

The following Republican candidates were also nominated.

Running for alderman are Anthony Giannattasio, Jay Tranquilli, Tommy Rupich, Jeremy Grant, Michael Casey, Connie Gaynor, John Drapp, Dan German, Bill Bevan and Ray Vitali.

Running for the Board of Education are Walter Hagedorn, Scott Firmender, Frank Musante, Mark Macchio, Susan Krushinsky, Tom Jagodzinski, Katie Martino, Win Smith III, William Farrell and John O'Connell.

Planning and Zoning Board candidates are Tom Nichol, Rick Varrone, Peter Berube, Rich Goulart and Ed Mead.

When the Democrats held their convention last week, they nominated the following slate, as well as Blake and Rose at the top of the ticket.

Running for alderman are: Ellen Beatty, Nlja Phelps, Nick Veccharelli, Janet A. Golden, Frank Smith, Marty Hardiman, Phil Vetro, Tony Sutton, Bryan Anderson, Dominic Cotton and Karen Fortunati.

Running for Board of Education are: Desi Tango, Ray Arnold, Susan Glennon, Jennifer Federico, Warren Pawlowski, Erin Pinsince, Craig Zentkovich, Rita Hennessey, Claire Casey and Adam De Young.

Planning and Zoning Board candidates are Peg Kearney, Denise Doucette-Ginise, Jim Quish, C. Robert Satti, Dexter Sutton and Carl Moore.

Rose, a four-term state representative and former member of the Milford Planning and Zoning Board, said she loves being state representative, but would love to work directly for the benefit of the City of Milford as its city clerk.

Rose said working for the City of Bridgeport for 18 years in its municipal offices has given her experience managing city records.

As for challenging a popular incumbent, Rose said, “Challenge is not anything I’ve been afraid of.”

Rohrig said she has made many improvements as city clerk and plans to continue to do so.

“Since 2014, I have served the citizens of Milford with transparency while instituting significant improvements to the office of the City Clerk,” she said. “My commitment for continuous improvement is unmatched.”

She said her office has instituted a credit card payment system, enhanced digitization of city records, created a newsletter and other initiatives.

“However, my work is far from complete,” Rohrig said. “Continuity is a key to systemic improvement.”