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The Democratic team was out in force at the polls on Election Day. Photo by Zoe Roos/The Courier

The Democratic team was out in force at the polls on Election Day. (Photo by Zoe Roos/The Courier | Buy This Photo)

Democrat Matt Hoey Wins Guilford First Selectman Race

Published Nov 07, 2017 • Last Updated 07:33 am, November 20, 2017

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After a heated campaign, Democrat Matt Hoey is Guilford’s new First Selectman. Hoey defeated Republican Ken MacKenzie handily with 4,482 votes to 2,374 votes. With all of the votes counted, the Democrats now hold a majority on all three of the major boards in town.

On Election Day, despite cold and eventually rainy weather, voter turnout was high at 46 percent. Out of 15,000 voters, 6,917 people voted including those who cast absentee ballots. This year’s voter turnout is up from 2013—a 40 percent turnout—and 2009—a 38 percent turnout—according to the registrar’s office.

Hoey, who served on the Board of Finance (BOF) for 26 years, thanked voters for their support.

“I am overwhelmed by the confidence the community has in me,” he said. “I think the community has voted in favor of experience and a bipartisan approach to governing and people who were willing to talk about the positives in Guilford and not focus on the negatives.”

Once the votes were in and a winner declared, Hoey said MacKenzie came to his headquarters on election night to congratulate him and wish him well, a gesture Hoey called gentlemanly and one that he “greatly appreciated.”

For the Board of Selectmen (BOS), Louis Federici, Jr. (D), Sandra Ruoff (D), Susan Koch Renner (R), and incumbent Charles L. Havrda (R) will all be seated. MacKenzie did not take in enough votes to win a seat on the BOS. The BOS now has a three to two Democratic majority.

Hoey said he is looking forward to working with the whole team on the BOS.

“I think we have a great BOS,” he said. “Charlie Havrda is the link to the current administration and he is the one with some history and perspective on the board and I am glad he is joining us. Sue Renner has done an outstanding job on the BOE and I expect that will be the same on the BOS, and of course Sandy and Lou, I am just thrilled the three of us will be able to work together. They are both very talented and dedicated individuals.”

MacKenzie shared a statement via social media on Nov. 8 in response to the election results.

“Thanks for the support in this election,” the post read. “I’ll get back to work on the Board of Finance and will continue to work for the taxpayers of Guilford.”

For the BOF, Veronica C. Wallace (D), Kenneth Gamerman (D), Jonathan Trotta (R), and Jeffrey T. Beatty (R) won seats on the board. Republican candidate and incumbent Peter Goletz did not keep his seat. The BOF maintains a four to three Democratic majority.

With Hoey now seated on the BOS, the vacancy created on the BOF will be filled by a candidate selected by the BOF and appointed by the BOS. While MacKenzie did not win a seat on the BOS, he maintains his seat on the BOF as his term does not expire until November 2019.

For the Board of Education (BOE), all five of the candidates nominated were seated: Mary Best (D), Moira Rader (D), Amy Sullivan (R), Vincent Baglio (R), and Theodore D. Sands (R). Sullivan and Sands are both incumbents. The BOE maintains a five to four Democratic majority.

For the Board of Assessment Appeals, Arnold Skretta (D) defeated Michael P. Basso (R).

Out of all of the 18 candidates on the ballot, Wallace was the highest vote getter with 4,705 votes and MacKenzie was the lowest with 2,374 votes.

Hoey takes office on Monday, Dec. 4. Now that the election is over, Hoey said it is time to put aside partisan politics and get down to work on issues that matter to residents.

“We are immediately going to get thrown into a couple of things, not the least of which is he upcoming budget,” he said. “I am going to work with [First Selectman] Joe [Mazza] on some kind of transition over the next three weeks and then we have some other things, too, like the Nut Plains Road, and then I need to start to familiarize myself with the staff and understand where the pressure points are and where the priorities are from the various department heads and staff.”

Mazza said he was pleased to see Sue Renner and Charles Havrda make the BOS, calling Havrda “a dedicated public servant who will continue to serve the people of Guilford well.”

In his last few weeks at Town Hall, Mazza said there are a few things to wrap up before he leaves office and work on a transition plan for the new board that may include some suggested guidance for ongoing projects. Mazza said he was also hoping to make it out without any more storms, but he ran out of luck on that front.

“It’s a wonderful job, it’s a very difficult job, but I have no doubt that Matt is up to the task,” said Mazza. “I want to congratulate Matt on a resounding win and wish him luck as he takes office. I have no doubt that he will do a good job for the people of Guilford.”

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story listed Hoey as the highest vote getter.

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