Zeoli Wins Sixth Term

Republican James Zeoli will serve a sixth term as Orange’s First Selectman. He defeated Democratic challenger Ken Lenz with 2,951 votes to 1,418.


Lenz appeared at Republican Headquarters in the Firelight Plaza to concede and shake Zeoli’s hand, and then left out the back hall. When the Board of Selectmen are sworn in at High Plains Community Center on Nov. 13, he won’t be there.

Lenz didn’t just lose the First Selectman’s race, he lost his seat on the Board of Selectmen altogether.

Orange requires at least two members of the minority party, in this case the Democrats, sit on the board. If the first selectman candidate still has more votes than the other selectman candidates from his or her party, he or she earns one of those seats.

Lenz did receive more votes than Jody Dietch’s 1,386, but not more than Paul Davis’s 1,733 or Mitch Goldblatt’s 2,066. Davis and Goldblatt will sit on the board.

All of the Republican candidates for the Board of Selectman will return: John Carangelo, Ralph Okenquist and Judy Wright Williams.

“I’m looking forward to working with Paul,” said Zeoli. Davis came with his fellow Democrats to the Republican headquarters to congratulate Zeoli. “He served for many years in Hartford and was a good friend to Orange and I think he’ll continue to be a good friend on the Board of Selectmen.”

Zeoli also complimented Lenz on running a clean campaign and said he enjoyed having him on the board.

Zeoli said his next term will be an extension of the last five, with projects like Fred Wolfe Park and the Train Station moving forward.

“The thing is, I’ve been on the board the past 10 years so I’m not coming in new,” Zeoli said. “I don’t have a new agenda. My agenda is getting all of these projects we’ve already got in the pipeline rolling forward.”

In the tax collector’s race, Republican Sandra Pierson defeated political newcomer Democratic candidate Howard Dietch 2845 votes to 1408. Howard is the son of Jody Dietch.

Winners for the Orange Board of Education were Republicans Chantelle Ewen-Bunnel, William Kraut and Ken Ziman and Democrats Susan Riccio, Betty Hadlock and Mara Sacente. Democratic candidate Ed Thorndike had the least votes at 1471 and thus lost his campaign for the seat. Saccente was elected for a 2-year term as she was already filling a vacated seat. She is Davis’s daughter.

All three of the Republican candidates for the Amity Board of Education won their seats: John C. Belfonti, Christopher Browe and Tracy Lane Russo. Democratic candidates David Oestreicher, Judy Primavera and Amy Esposito will join them. Democratic candidate Roz Klein had the least votes at 1365 and thus lost her bid for a seat.

Republicans Jeff Vargo, Mike Donadeo, Glen Papelo and Jody Daymon as well as Democrats Randy Thomas, Santo Galatioto Jr., and Bob Shanley will serve as constables. Young Democratic newcomer John Gagel lost.

The Orange Board of Finance will be Republicans Kevin Houlihan and James Leahy along with Democratic candidate Kevin Moffett. Technically Republican Kevin Bocek beat Moffett by almost 500 votes, but minority representation rules gave it to the Democratic candidate with the highest tally. Moffett was well ahead of fellow party members Kevin Hadlock and Marc Sandella.

A similar situation occurred on the Town Planning and Zoning Commission where Republican Kenneth Gambardella technically beat Democrat Paul Kaplan by nearly 600 votes. Kaplan beat only his fellow party member Matt Norko, but will join Republican’s Judy Smith and Ralph Aschettino on the board. Gambardella will not have a seat due to the minority party rules.