Dems won't challenge Murphy for mayor

This election year in New Milford could hold a few surprises.

Yet five-term incumbent Republican mayor Pat Murphy is running unopposed, and the GOP lineup behind her has lots of familiar faces.

"I have had the privilege to serve as mayor for the past 10 years and would like to continue my efforts toward improving our dynamic and diverse community," Murphy said as she announced her candidacy. "There will always be projects to be completed and pending issues to be resolved. I look forward to these in the future."

All but one of the GOP's present Town Council members are seeking another term: Pete Bass, Tom Esposito, Katy Francis, Joe Failla and Beth Falder.

Longtime council member Ray O'Brien has decided to retire from town politics. O'Brien's term as a leader in the town extends back three decades to when he served on the Board of Selectmen.

"We all express our thanks to Councilman O'Brien for his years of service," said Bass, the Republican Town Committee chairman. "All of us have turned to his experience and expertise as we've made our decisions on the council."

The Democrats do not have a mayoral candidate, but they have endorsed five candidates for Town Council seats: past council members Walter Bayer and John Lillis; incumbents Mary Jane Lundgren and Frank Wargo; and Andy Grossman, who ran for the 69th District state house seat in 2012.

Four-term Democratic councilman Peter Mullen is not seeking reelection. He said he is now busy in Hartford serving on the legislative council of the State Dental Association.

"The real issue for the Town Council is that Democrats have to win more seats," Mullen said. "I think it would be better for the town if there were a better balance there and on the Board of Finance."

There is a change in GOP candidates for the Board of Education. Incumbents William Wellman and Lynette Celli Rigdon are not on the slate.

Board chairwoman Wendy Faulenbach is seeking reelection.

New GOP faces for the Board of Education are Angie Chastain, David Littlefield and Jon Spatola. Spatola is seeking to fill the two remaining years of former board member Tom Brandt's seat.

Democratic candidates for the Board of Education are Robert Coppola; former board members Elizabeth Finney and Larry Stillman. Jackie Alexander is seeking a 2-year term.

"I think we have a good slate," said Lillis, the Democratic Town Committee chairman. "There's a lot of experienced people with some new faces. I think it's a good mix."

stuz@newstimes.com; 860-355-7322