UPDATE: Devoto's Democratic primary challenge has been successful. This morning, the Town Clerk certified 620 signatures (519 were needed), making a September 10 primary a reality.
The Middletown Town Clerk's Office was a hive of activity this morning as candidates and petitioners handed in completed petition forms for the upcoming election.
Common Council members Phil Pessina and Joe Bibisi were at the office delivering completed form with the hopes of appearing on the ballot as independent candidates and under the Working Families Party. The Republican Town Committee refused to select Pessina and Bibisi to run for Council as Republicans. Reportedly, the RTC felt that the two councilmen compromised too often and voted with Democratic council members on issues.
Bibisi and Pessina seemed confident that they had collected enough signatures to make their run. The signatures will be certified as valid by the Town Clerk today, and then sent on to the CT Secretary of State for final validation. The pair of candidates are planning a press conference at tonight's Common Council meeting.
Petition collectors were also delivering signed sheets for the potential primary run by Democrat Stephen Devoto for a seat on the Planning and Zoning Commission. Despite his broad experience with land use issues in town, the Democratic Town Committee failed to select Devoto because in his interviews with the DTC committee selecting candidates, he refused to pledge endorsements to all candidates on the slate until he knew who those candidates would be.
If he has collected enough signatures, Devoto, who co-founded the Middletown Eye, will run against current P&Z member Dan Russo, Rob Blanchard, a former paid employee of the Malloy campaign and current driver for Attorney General Jepsen, and Paul Turenne, associate registrar at Wesleyan University.
Devoto, as an Eye correspondent, has atttended nearly every P&Z meeting for the past five years and has served on land use committees in town. Devoto has a better P&Z attendance record than P&Z member Russo. Blanchard and Turenne presented no evidence that they had ever attended a P&Z meeting.
Devoto, along with several volunteers, has spent the past two weeks attending city functions, marching from door-to-door and standing outside of local retailers gathering the needed 519 signatures. He has expressed hope that he will be able to announce "good news" this evening.
Devoto, and local teacher Stephan Smith, also collected signatures in hopes of running for the Planning and Zoning Commission under the Working Families party.
Disclaimer: Ed McKeon is a Democratic member of the Board of Education (running under the Ed4Ed banner), an associate and friend of Devoto, a volunteer for Devoto's primary run, and a co-founder of the Middletown Eye. Ed McKeon is also a friend of Stephan Smith, both of whom were members of the Blue House Group, LLC, who worked to successfully renovate and sell a distresed home in their neighborhood.