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Mansfield elections inching closer

By Miles Halpine
On September 16, 2013

  • This photo shows a recent meeting of the UConn College Republicans. The UConn College Republicans plan on being involved in the upcoming Mansfield municipal elections, according to the group’s president, Mark Sargent. SANTIAGO PELAEZ/The Daily Campus

With just 50 days left until the general election, Democratic and Republican campaigns are heating up in Mansfield. Several issues are arising and the two town committees have different views on each of them.
For the past two decades, Mansfield Democrats have more or less maintained an overall majority in terms of both their voting populace and their success at winning elections. For example, Betsy Paterson, a Democrat and mayor of Mansfield, has held her position for 14 years.
In Mansfield, there is a town council with nine people elected to represent the town's residents. According to a town charter, the minority -- in this case, Republicans -- are entitled to at least some seats and the majority cannot have more than two thirds control of any board. Currently, there are six Democrats and three Republicans serving on the town council.
Mark LaPlaca, Mansfield Democratic Town Committee chair, said Democrats have had e had a majority on every board and commission for as long as he can remember.
"That's a good thing," said LaPlaca, "I think that speaks to people's confidence in our leadership and really where the town's gone over the years."
"Democrats have improved the town for UConn students too," LaPlaca added. "Recently, there have been a lot of improvements on off-campus housing. Democrats have led on that ... to provide safer places for students to live."
Tony Lent, chair of Mansfield's Republican Town Committee, said their major concern is over the direction the town government in going. According to Lent, it has been a one party town for almost 20 years, showing a lack of service to all Mansfield residents.
"[UConn] ... has always been a blessing and a curse. And the blessing is the kids get a pretty good education here ... so the large question is from a taxpayer's standpoint, from a town's residents standpoint, how large are we going to let UConn get?" said Lent, "And, actually, the town has not much control over that."
"Mansfield is an overwhelmingly Democratic town and has been such for the past 25 to 30 years," and "There's an active Republican campaign, and there's an active Democratic campaign, but the Republican campaign is more active than have been other Republican campaigns in recent years," said Political Science Professor Ronald Schurin, a Democrat currently serving a four year term on the Region 19 Board of Education, said
"We are going to be actively working with the Mansfield Democrats and other groups on campus to encourage students to take advantage of the Connecticut's fantastic new same-day registration system by voting in November," said President of UConn College Democrats Molly Rockett, a 5th semester political science major.
Rockett also said they are aiming to register 100 students to vote in the town election.
"The College Republicans will be actively assisting in not only the Mansfield municipal elections but also in other neighboring areas such as Coventry and possibly Pomfret," said Mark Sargent, president of UConn College Republicans and a 5th semester political science and economics major.  

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