2016-11-10 / Front Page

Middletown Incumbents Returned to Office

Strong Support for Local Ballot Questions
By Olga Enger

Middletown voters left Town Council intact on Election Day by re-electing all six incumbents on the ballot.

“I’m happy. I’m humbled. I’m grateful,” said Councilor Paul Rodrigues, who was the top vote-getter according to preliminary numbers. “I’m excited to get back to work and make Middletown a better place to live.” Rodrigues also finished on top in the 2012 election.

He was followed by incumbents Theresa Santos, Council President Robert Sylvia, Barbara VonVillas, Rick Lombardi, Antone Viveiros and newcomer Dennis Turano. Council Vice President Robert Kempenaar did not seek re-election.

The results do not include 1,226 mail ballots that were sent out, which will be processed by the Board of Elections by the end of the day on Nov. 10.

Sylvia said there was “no doubt in his mind” the incumbents would be re-elected because they worked well together over the last two years. “We have had a very transparent and open council,” said Sylvia. “I’m not saying this because I’ve been sitting at the helm. I can’t tell you how proud I am of my colleagues. There are never MVPs in government. This is a democracy. We vote on it, we do it.”

The council gelled right from the start said Sylvia, when they rejected an $11 million proposed sports complex, amid public outcry. They went on to pass several ordinances to protect the environment, zoning and water quality.

“We ended the future of big-box development in Middletown. We stopped smoking on beaches to ensure the quality of life for our residents. We listen to residents. We have learned from our constituents.”

He pointed to the short list of candidates as another indication of satisfaction with the local government.

“Not a lot of people applied. I’ve never seen only nine people on the ballot,” he said.

A public meeting to select the council president is planned for 10 a.m. on Sunday, Nov. 13, at Middletown Town Hall.

Residents also overwhelmingly approved two bond questions dedicated toward road and school repairs and an amendment to the Town Charter.

Almost 85 percent of voters approved a $5 million bond for the rehabilitation and improvement of Middletown streets and sidewalks, including paving, drainage, traffic control devices, safety improvements and landscaping.

“We need to focus on taxes and infrastructure. The bond is a start,” said Rodrigues. He hopes the council will consider allocating more money toward a maintenance fund to avoid a similar problem in the future.

The majority of residents also supported a $10 million bond to finance repairs and improvements to the town’s school buildings.

“We want to thank the Middletown residents for their support on both the road and school facilities bonds. This is a win-win for us all,” said Middletown Superintendent Rosemarie Kraeger. “There will be no tax increase for our residents. There is 39 percent state housing aid reimbursement on all the school projects. The bond projects are clearly defined and will benefit every school, addressing the safety, security and health issues identified.”

The large majority (83 percent) of voters agreed to amend the charter, which enables penalties for alleged charter violations made by any elected or appointed official, any member of a board or commission, any official body, board or commission of the town or any town employee.

In the School Committee race, incumbents Kellie DiPalma Simeone and William O'Connell beat out former councilor Richard Adams for the two open seats of the four-year term.

Middletown Town Council

Top seven elected

Paul M. Rodrigues 4,016
M. Theresa Santos 3,889
Robert J. Sylvia 3,786
Barbara A. VonVillas 3,569
Henry F. Lombardi Jr. 3,507
Antone C. Viveiros 3,384
Dennis Turano 3,262
Olin D. Gambrell Sr. 2,783
Daniel P. Titus 2,556

Middletown School Committee

Top two elected

Kellie DiPalma Simeone 3,846
William R. O'Connell 2,819
Richard P. Adams 2,377

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