Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Still steady in Norwich..

At the Knights of Columbus Hall in Taftville, Precincts 1 and 3, turnout was running in the upper 200s each at noon.

"Every vote counts," said Nelkson French as he climbed on his bike after casting his vote. French said today's election didn't personally present any conflicts for him, the choices were "simple."

"Republican..." he said, "local, state and federal."

But that doesn't mean he doesn't appreciate today's choices on the ballot. "What I appreciate are the people who serve, no mattrer what side they're on. I don't think a lot of people do appreciate that. It's a tough job being an elected official."

It's noon now, and I have a meeting at the office, so we'll suspend the tour of polling paces for a couple of hours and head back on the road a bit later.

Not every problem is a bad one...

At the polling place nexgt to the Pachaug Fire Station in Griswold, there is a bit of a problem -- parking. The site has roughly 13 parking spaces, with more than 3,000registered voters in the district, so parking is at a premium. And turnout is heavy. By 10:30 this morning, more than 450 voters had already cast ballots.

At Town Hall, the second voting poll in town, better than 10 percent had turned out by 11 a.m.

"It's a good turnout," said Town Hall moderator Joe Lussier, a 15-year veteran of town elections. "It's been very good."

And that is a good sign for what should prove to be an interesting race for first selectman today.

Now ity's time to head back into Norwich, make a quick stop in Taftville and then into the office for meeting before hitting the road again later this aft3ernoon.

Variety is the spice of life...

That's how Jaquline Picard described today's first selectman's race in Lisbon. For the first tme in eight years, incumbent First Selectman Tom Sparkman is facing a challenger, the town's senior coordinator Judy Jencks.

Turnout has been steady since the polling place at Town Hall this morning wi8th better than 10 percent of eligible voters havinbg cast ballots by 11 a.m., 316 out of 2,658 registere3d viters.

"It is interesting," Megan Izbicki said of the first selectman's race. "Judy could brung a lot of different things, and Ton's dne a good job."

Izbecki deckined to say who she voted for, but did confess thge main draw for her was her mother -- who serves as town tax collector. "I'm here rooting for my mom."

In the Land of Steady Habits...steady is the word

"Steady, no down time, but no rush, either."

That's how Precinct 2B moderator Bob Schmidt described turnout at the Rose City Senior Center where voters in Norwich's Precincts 2A and @b were casting ballots today.

"It's nice to have multiple options," Michelle Kenny, 22, said after casting her vote in today's municipal election, a reference to the various choices available dfor voters.

For Kenny, the four-way race for mayor is the major attraction -- but not necessarily a difficult choice. "Obviously, there are two strong candidate, and two others. I vote for the person I know, a good guy."

Time to continue the travels...back on I-395 and heading north...

What's the attraction...

It's hard to say at this point what the final turnout in today's election will be, but it does seem clear that the four-way race for mayor in Norwich is the main draw bringing people out to the polls today.

"Honestly, I don't care if it's right, wrong or indifferent," said Bob Pirie aftrer castring his vote at Veterans Memorial Schoo, "as long as we shake things up."

Pirie didn't want to say who he voted for, but conceded that there were "three or four names" on the ballot that he came to vote for...and those were the candidates that he did vote for.

The stream of voters continues, no great opnslught, but steady. I suspect that turnout might be a bit higher than typical for a local election, but not a recoerd a turnout.

A new stop...

Normally my next stop is the American Legion Hall on Laurel Hill, but this morning I find myself sitting in the gym at Veterans Memorial School -- the "new" voting pollng place for Norwich residents living in Precincts 5, 6 and 7.

Outside, at the entrance of the school, City Council candidate Jackie Caron sat on the tunk of her car waving to vorers as they arrive. Mayoral candidate Bob Zarnetske took the opportunity to do a little waving himself ae he arrived, a short respite s he shuttles voters to polling places today.

Inside, the3re is a slow, but steady stream of voters arriving..."nothing overwhelming," election officials say with a reference to last year's long, long lines. Clearly, at thisw moment, the number of poll workers greatly outnumber of voters.

Steady as you go...

Sitting in the conferencre room at Preston Town Hall, one cannot escaqpe the thud and vibrations coming every 20 seconds or so as the metal door to the basement slams. There are no lines extending out the dorway this year like there were a year ago, but a fairly steady stream of voters nonetheless. At 8:30, 183 voters had caqst ballots.

"We're not going to break any records," election official Merrill Gerber told me.

But then again, Preston voters have become accustomesd to referendums, probably having participated in more over the past three years then voters in any of the other surrounding towns. And that's because of the Norwich State Hospital property -- the single issue in this year's municipal election.

In my opinion, Preston is probably the most exciting of all of today's elections.

"I would tend to agree with you on that," Parke Spicer Sr. told me as I stopped and talked with him after breakfast this morning at Parke's Place. Parke's son, Parke Jr. now runs the diner. The elder Parke, a former first selectman in Pfreston, is now the registrar of voters.

The Preston election for first selectman this year centers solely on the issue of developing the hospital property. Republican incumbent Robert Congdon and his Democratic challenger Tim Bowles have very different ideas of how the property should be developed...and today's vote could be an "unofficial" on ideas as much as it is a vote for the individual -- which is not bad at all.

And the slamming of the metal door suggests voters might agree with that.


I"ve been doing these Election Day tours for a number of years now, and it never fails....as I cross over the bridge from Montville to Preston, my car slips into automatic drive aqnd turns right on Route 12, and then left into the parking lot at Parke's Place.

Parke's is one of the diners were locals gather to dicuss the "news" of the day. The conversation around the counter this morning is the recent Mashantucket Pequot elections....and some good natured ribbing of a patron who had forgotten that today was Election Day...or for that matter, that it was even Tuesday.

But the main reason for stopping here is....breakfast. Stopping by once a year doesn't make me a regular, but has become a regular stop for me. So...after breakfast, we'll head over Preston Town Hall and see how things are going over there.

It's a family affair...

It's a family tradition in the Remodi household, every election Lisa Remodi briungs at least two, sometimes three of her four chiodren to the polls with her...not to vote, but to work. It's something that she has been doing since the kids were in high school, and this year is no exception. Her twp 19-year-old daughters are working today, one at Fair Oaks School and the other with her at the Mohegan Fire Station where Lisa is working as the poll's election official.

"they should learn about this," Lisa told me. "They'll be the ones who will be doing this in the future."

Activity at the fire station is a bit more brisj than at Town Halll. Sixty-three voters have cast ballots un the first two hours.

Now...off to Preston....

Big issue, but a small turnout...

As I mentioned in my last post, Montville Town Hall is typically the slowest in tersm of voter turnout. According to election officials, only about a dozen voters had shown up in the first hour. A bit surprising considering the big issue is the potential change in the way local government will be structured.

"It is a big issue," Helen Karney told me after casting her vote, but declining to say how she voted on the proposal to change from a mayoral-council form of government to a town manager-council form. "I rather not," she said when I asked. "I'm afraid a lot of my friends voted the other way."

Next stop, the Mohegan Fire House where I suspect activity might be a little higher.

Status quo or something different...

The town council race in Montville is interesting, but it's the proposed charter change that will likely draw much of the attention today in Montville. On the ballot is a question asking voters if they want to do away with the mayoral-council form of government and adopt instead a town manager-council form of government.

Doting the landscape approaching Town Hall are signs in favor of both -- red and white signs that read "Just say no," and yellow signs with the word "Yes," if you want "good government."

Town Hall is one of three poling places, and typically the slowest. And so it is this morning as less than half doZen voters have entered since I sat down and fired up the computer.

I voted...

The sun had barely topped the treesw and the full moon was still visible in the sky at the comunity center. Candidates running in this year's election, aqnd a handful of their supporters were outside in the parking lot greeting residents as they arrived. No long lines this morning, but a steady stream ofr voters anyway.

Well, now that I've done my civic duty, it's time to start my work day. It's uip I-395 to Montville...my first satop on my morning loop of voting places.

Polls are open....

It's just about 6 a.m. and the start of my day today. First stop this morning will be the East Lyme Community Center. Now East Lyme is not in our general readership area, but it is where I vote...and if I don't do that now, then I won't get a chance later.

Not much of a contest here this year. Republican First Selectman Paul Formica is facing only a write-in challenge...so I'm guessing this is a pretty easy one to handicap. However, there are a number of referendum questions on the ballot -- the main reason for me to go to the polls today.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Election Day...

It's tomorrow....and as is my usual routine on Election Day, I will be hitting the polling places shortly after polls open at 6 a.m., and then reporting all day from various polling locations throughout Eastern Connecticut with updates on turnout and how things seem to be going. I invite you all to join me here tomorrow on the Blog to get a sense of what might be developing in the various races being contested in this year's municipal elections.