This November’s 2017 municipal election is already shaping up to be exciting. There are contested races for three, key town boards (Selectmen, Education and Planning and Zoning), as well as two candidates running without major political party town committee backing who have petitioned to get on the ballot–including Republican Town Committee chair Al Alper, who petitioned onto the ballot to run for Board of Selectmen after the RTC chose to nominate two other candidates.

Now, at the end of last week, small town political election intrigue sparked again, with news that one candidate who had won her party’s nomination in July has now withdrawn her name from consideration and will no longer be running for election this year.

Last Friday, Sept. 8, town clerk Lori Kabak confirmed to GOOD Morning Wilton that Marianne Gustafson, a candidate nominated by the Wilton Republican Town Committee (RTC) to run for a seat on the Planning and Zoning Commission (P&Z) had officially withdrawn from the race.

Gustafson had been named to the Republican slate during the RTC nominating meeting on July 19. She was nominated to run for one of the three uncontested, 2-year term seats on P&Z. [see mock-up ballot, below]

GMW sent multiple requests for comments to Gustafson, once on Friday and again on Sunday evening. However, she did not reply with a comment by press time.

UPDATE 11:30 a.m.–Gustafson sent the following comment:  “I approach projects/assignments with a full commitment, which is how I had begun the P&Z nomination and early campaign; however, there has been a shift of out-of-state elder care responsibilities in my family that restricts my time with respect to the campaign season and the requirements of the P&Z open position. I was honored by the exuberant support and heart-felt endorsements for my nomination at the July RTC meeting and I remain a current alternate member of the Historic District Commission.”

Alper earlier had cited “family reasons” to GMW as to why Gustafson had opted to pull out of the race.

“Family reasons that came up unexpectedly, and that she has to take care of and doesn’t believe that she can devote the time and energy required for the position. So instead of doing an average, mediocre or even a poor job, she thought it best to withdraw her name,” he explained.

The RTC is meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 12 and according to Alper, will consider whether to replace Gustafson on the slate, and if so, who will take her spot. He says the nomination subcommittee is gathering names of people to consider and present to the RTC members.

The shakeup comes at a time where dates on the election calendar are getting tighter and more specific, and any changeup can be disruptive, especially when final versions of the ballot have to be shared soon with the Sec. of State’s office.

How Wilton’s Ballot Will Likely Look

Last month, the registrars of voters and the town clerk’s office held a lottery to determine the order that candidates will appear on the ballot. Based on those results, GOOD Morning Wilton has mocked up a draft of what the ballot might likely look like, as of now. However, there may still be changes and until a sample ballot is printed by the town clerk this is not official nor final.

(On the ballot, the contested races are highlighted in yellow.)

There are key dates that Wilton election officials must follow, according to Connecticut law and the Secretary of State’s office. These have bearing on when the ballot must be considered official.

Wednesday, Sept. 13–…the town clerk must begin making arrangements to have the absentee ballots for the election printed.
Tuesday, Sept. 19–Last day for town clerk to file the list of candidates with the Sec. of State.
Friday, Oct. 6–Printed absentee ballots become available this day.
Friday, Oct. 6–The registrars and town clerk have to certify to the Sec. of State the number of ballots for each polling place that have been ordered.
Friday, Oct. 27–Last day for registrar of voters to file sample of completed ballot with Sec. of State.