Three Republican Board of Education candidates claimed victory in Newtown after accusations of online and public harassment and intimidation forced the Republican Town Committee to withdraw those candidates from a town hall event in late October.
Jennifer Larkin, Janet Kuzma and Don Ramsey all won seats on the Newtown Board of Education, which gives Republicans four seats on the seven-member board.
Democrat rival Jennifer Padilla was not elected to the board, while Democrat Daniel Cruson Jr. will serve on the board under Newton’s majority/minority rules, which ensure a single party cannot have more than four seats on the board of education.
Newtown Republican Town Committee Chairman Dennis Brestovansky says that all the Republican candidates running for election in Newtown were successful, including in elections for legislative council.
“We are, of course, very pleased with the results,” Brestovansky said. “Our board of education candidates did go through a lot.”
“I think our candidates did an excellent job communicating their message in a very professional and upstanding way,” Brestovansky said. “This is different for Newtown. For a conservative view to be the majority party now on the legislative council and the board of education is a real sign of what the voters want in town.”
The board of education race – like several other such races in Connecticut – turned not-so-nice during the campaign season and the Newtown RTC eventually decided to pull their candidates from participating in a town hall candidate forum.
According to a letter sent by the RTC to the Newtown Parent Teacher Association, Republican candidates had been verbally harassed in public and online, and there had been property destroyed, “eggs thrown,” and “bullying and intimidation of local businesses over their political views.”
The RTC wrote that social media postings indicated their candidates would be targeted during the town hall forum and decided participation in the forum would not be prudent.
Brestovansky expressed gratitude to Newtown First Selectman Daniel Rosenthal and selectman Maureen Crick Owen for stopping by the RTC to express their congratulations. “It was very much appreciated, and we did our best to reciprocate,” Brestovansky said. “It’s just a sign that everyone wants to work together.”
“Some very good Democrats were elected as well,” Brestovansky said, “and our candidates look forward to working with them.”