Mansfield elections to bring new town council members

From left to right: Board of education candidate Al Fratoni and town council candidates Virginia Raymond, Steve Kegler and Mark Sargent. (Amar Batra/The Daily Campus)

Today is Election Day in Mansfield, Connecticut. Here’s what you need to know.

Nine candidates are running for the nine-member town council. The Mansfield Republican Town Committee opted to run just three of the six candidates it was eligible to include on the ballot, meaning all nine candidates in the race will win seats.

Mayor Betsy Paterson, who has served on the town council as a Democrat since 1997 and as mayor since 1999, is retiring and not seeking re-election. Mansfield resident and recent UConn graduate Ben Shaiken is running on the Democratic ticket to take her seat on the town council.

Betty Wassmundt, a Republican elected in 2013, is also retiring from the town council, having served one term. Taking her place will be Mark Sargent, who graduated from UConn in May after serving as president of the Undergraduate Student Government last year.

With Shaiken, who graduated from UConn in 2010, and Sargent poised to join the board, both candidates said UConn students should expect to have stronger representation in both the majority and minority parties.

Democratic incumbents Paul Shapiro, Toni Moran, Bill Ryan, Peter Kochenburger and Alex Marcellino are all seeking re-election along with Republican incumbents Virginia Raymond and Steve Kegler.

Despite the town council race remaining virtually uncontested, both parties have actively campaigned throughout the election cycle in an effort to increase voter turnout and promote citizen awareness of the issues facing the town.

Town council member Paul Shapiro (left) and other members of Mansfield Democrats plan a campaign route in the Storrs Commons shopping area in Mansfield, Connecticut on Saturday, Oct. 31, 2015. Democrats campaigned door-to-door to raise awareness about their campaign. Election Day is Nov. 3. (Amar Batra/The Daily Campus)

All eyes will be on the board of education race, where two Republicans and two Democrats are running for a pair of open seats. Mansfield Republican Town Committee chairman Tony Lent said the GOP is targeting this race as an opportunity to pick up an additional elected position in the town.

The race pits Democratic incumbents Randy Walikonis and Kathy Ward, who was appointed to the board to fill a vacancy in 2014, against incumbent Republican Katherine Paulhus and former Tolland Board of Education member Al Fratoni. Walikonis currently serves as chairman of the board.

Democrats have said they are running on a “record of success,” citing lower taxes, smart development and high quality education under their leadership, according to Moran, who also serves as the chairwoman of the Mansfield Democratic Town Committee. She said Mansfield residents can expect a continuation of these policies with Democrats in the majority.

Republicans have spent the election promoting a platform of what Lent calls “good governance.” He said this includes improving infrastructure, making town issues more accessible to the public and spending taxpayers’ money “wisely.”

Mansfield residents will also vote for seats on the planning and zoning commission, zoning board of appeals, board of assessment appeals and regional board of education. None of these races are contested.

The polls are open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Tuesday. UConn students who live on campus and have registered to vote in Mansfield can cast their ballots at the Mansfield Community Center just south of Storrs Center. Students living off campus are assigned a voting district based on the location of their residences. Same-day voter registration is available at the town hall, also known as the Audrey P. Beck Building.


Kyle Constable is a senior staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at kyle.constable@uconn.edu. He tweets @KyleConstable.