Hamden mayor introduces slate after failing to get party endorsement

Photo of Meghan Friedmann

HAMDEN — Mayor Curt Balzano Leng has filed papers to petition his way to a Democratic primary, introducing a slate of candidates for Board of Education and at-large council seats, according to Hamden Democratic Registrar Rose Mentone.

If the group can collect 946 signatures from registered Democrats in town by Aug. 11, voters will have a choice between two sets of candidates in September — those endorsed by the Democratic Town Committee and those who were not endorsed but have allied themselves with Leng.

Incumbent at-large Councilwoman Berita Rowe-Lewis and Councilwoman Kathleen Schomaker, who currently represents the 6th District, are on Leng’s ticket seeking at-large seats, according to an email from Mentone. It indicates that Richard Mutts, founder of the Born Rich Foundation, and Rachel Scolnic-Dobin also will run.

All four would compete with incumbent Councilwoman Dominique Baez, former councilman Cory O’Brien, Kathleen Kiely and Laurie Sweet, who won DTC endorsements Tuesday night.

Jennifer Jason Sweeten, Joshua Watkins, Nicholas McDonald and Charter Revision Commission Chairman Frank Dixon all are on Leng’s ticket as Board of Education candidates, according to Mentone.

The DTC-endorsed school board candidates include David Asberry, incumbent Melissa Kaplan, Siobhan Carter David and Mariam Khan. Reuel Parks also is on their ticket; he is running for a two-year term to replace Roxana Walker-Canton, who recently stepped down.

The mayoral race could have more than two names on the ballot. Lauren Garrett, a former councilwoman who ran against Leng in 2019, has won the party endorsement, but political organizer Peter Cyr and at-large Councilman Brad Macdowall also have promised to petition.

Ron Gambardella is planning to run for mayor in November as the GOP candidate.

Leng already had announced that Melinda Saller, current school board secretary, would run for town clerk. The DTC endorsed Karimah Mickens Webber for that position.

Elsewhere, Kim Washington has filed papers to challenge Councilman Justin Farmer in a primary for the 5th District council seat.

No other Democratic candidate had filed papers to petition for a primary as of Friday, according to Mentone.

She indicated that candidates petitioning to run for townwide positions as part of a slate can collect signatures as a group. For district-based positions, each petitioning candidate must collect signatures from 5 percent of the Democratic voters within their district, she said.