Editors note: What follows is a collaborative editorial effort between Oxford Patch and the Valley Independent Sentinel. Our goal in working together this Election night is to provide Oxford residents with the best possible coverage -- complete, accurate and in real time.
George Temple, a 65-year-old former town attorney who was born and raised in the Naugatuck Valley, cruised to victory Tuesday in a three-way race that also saw his running mate, Jeffrey Haney, elected as a selectman.
“I’m humbled,” said Temple, a Republican who wore a blue Temple/Haney baseball cap as he addressed a standing room only crowd of supporters at the Brookside Inn Restaurant. “The town has shown faith in me, and I will never let them down.”
Temple took 1,531 votes in an election that saw an unofficial count of 3,462 people, or 41.53 percent of registered voters, head to the long polling place at Quaker Farms School.
Although he was victorious, Temple said his fears were actually realized: that Dave Haversat, a Republican write-in candidate, would take some votes away from him. “He just didn’t take away enough,” Temple said.
Haversat took just 512 write-in votes, while Joseph Calabrese, an Independent on the Democratic ticket whom many believed would be victorious because of a rift the the Republican Party, got 1,298 votes.
Calabrese - the aide to outgoing First Selectman Mary Ann Drayton-Rogers, a Democrat who did not run for a third term - said he was disappointed with the outcome but doesn’t regret his decision to run.
“I thought we had gotten our message out there and did what we had to do to demonstrate that we had the experience that was in the best interest of the town," he said. "But somehow that message did not resonate with enough voters.”
Calabrese’s running mate, current Selectman Dave McKane, won a sixth-consecutive term on the board. McKane took 1,486 votes, while Haney, a newcomer to politics who is well known in Oxford due to his martial arts studios and construction business, garnered 1,673 votes.
“We’re here, we’re together, we won; let’s take Oxford and let’s go forward,” Haney told a roaring crowd at Brookside.
McKane said he’s been the minority representative on the board several times and that it works well when those in the majority are willing to work together for the betterment of the town. Although he doesn't fear the change from the current majority, McKane called his feelings bittersweet.
“This was a team effort, so I’m never happy when the team loses,” he said. “Still, I’m willing to work with them (Republicans), and I hope they will do the same.”
On the other side of the ticket, Temple led the Republicans to victory in almost all categories except for the Board of Education, where Democrats have now taken a majority on the board as Dems Amy Cote, Stephen Brown and Diane L. Soracco were elected by wide margins. They will join newcomer Gerard Carbonaro, a Republican whom Temple brought on ticket.
Current school board Chairwoman Rose McKinnon, a Republican, was ousted along with board finance subcommittee chair John Lavin, who is also a Republican. And Ed Spruck did not get elected to the school board from the GOP ticket.
Temple believes the night was an overall win for Republicans.
As he stood before a crowd of about 100 supporters, Temple credited his 15-year-old son Andy with launching his campaign.
“I had one of those put-up-or-shut-up moments when I was complaining about the town one day,” said Temple, “and my son, Andy, said ‘Dad, if you think you can do better, why don’t you run?’"
On the heels of laughter and applause, Temple delivered the punchline: “So I said, ‘well, you have to ask your mother about it.’”
Temple campaigned on his intention to move the town forward on the strength of economic development.
“I’m very serious about that,” Temple said as he addressed his supporters, “and that’s exactly what the town wants me to do or else they wouldn’t have elected me...I assume...unless it’s just my looks?”
In an elegantly understated speech, Temple blended humor and humility throughout, as he gratefully acknowledged key campaign workers and supporters and, with like regard, his opponent.
“I’d also like to thank my opponent and the Democratic Party,” said Temple. "They ran a clean campaign and worked very hard. We got the issues out there. That tends get forgotten at times like these, and I’ve been on the losing end.”
But he certainly wasn’t on Tuesday.
Chants of TEMPLE-TEMPLE-TEMPLE began to ring out, to which Temple replied, “You forgot Haney.”
“I’ve said it before,” Temple said. “This is the second best choice I’ve ever made in my life. My friend Jeff Haney.”
Carbonaro, an assistant football and wrestling coach at Oxford High School, used what he called an “immortal wrestling saying” to sum up his friend Temple’s victory: “Hard work always beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard enough…and George worked harder than them all," Carbonaro said. "I think he knocked on every door in Oxford.”
Temple said his tireless door-to-door campaigning is a major reason he was victorious.
“…I learned so much about the people of Oxford, how they live and how they feel,” he said of the shoe-leather grinding.
State Rep. David K. Labriola, R-Oxford, was also on hand to celebrate Temple’s victory.
“I could easily talk about George’s plans for Oxford,” Labriola said. “but I’d rather talk tonight about the character of my friend, George Temple -- his love of his family and this community -- his integrity and his work ethic. He’s a good man and he’s going to do a great job for the people of Oxford as their first selectman.”
- Valley Independent Sentinel contributor Cara Dolan Berry contributed heavily to this article from the Temple campaign.
NOTE: The following are unofficial results; bold and/or * indicates the candidate got elected. They were updated at 6:32 a.m. Wednesday from the town's wesbite.
BALLOT QUESTION: Shall the town of Oxford adopt the ? RESULT: PASSES - Yes: 1535; No: 1,090
Joseph Calabrese, D -- 1,298
Dave Haversat, R (write in candidate) -- 512
* George Temple, R -- 1,531
* Jeffrey Haney, R -- 1,683
* Dave McKane, D-Incumbent -- 1,487
Board of Education:
* Stephen Brown, D --1,866
* Gerard Carbonaro, R -- 1,773
* Amy B. Cote, D -- 1,969
John B. Lavin, R-Incumbent -- 1,499
Rose A. McKinnon, R-Incumbent, chair -- 1,498
* Diane L. Soracco, D -- 1,842
Edward P. Spruck, Jr., R -- 1,527
James R. Murphy, D - 1,266
* Michael F. Angelini, R - 1,887
Jackie A. Orner, (Republican running on Dem ticket) - 1,482
* Cayenne Spremullo, R - 1,758
Board of Finance:
* Richard C. Burke, R-Incumbent - 1,797
* Robert A. DeBisschop, Republican running as a Democrat - 1,621
Victor Girardi, R - 1,570
Robert N. Greene, Jr., D - 1,333
Joseph D. Rasberry, R - 1,708
* Nancy J. Schmitt, D-Incumbent - 1,384 (elected because of minorty representation rule)
Board of Assessment Appeals:
* Dana Flach, R - 1,892
* Jane C. Maher, D - 1,196
Planning & Zoning Commission:
* Tanya Carver, R - 1,828
* Harold J. Cosgrove, D-Incumbent - 1,432 (gets on because of minorty representation rule)
Janis Williams Hardy, registered Republican who running as petitioning candidate, making her an Independent in this election - 721
Jeffrey Paul Luff, R - 1,608
James E. Moore, D - 1,200
* Wayne Charles Watt, R - 1,954
Zoning Board of Appeals:
Paul Aiksnoras, D-Incumbent - 1,475
* Jeffrey T. Holmes, R - 1,942
* Marc R. Hovhannissian, R - 1,677
Wayne R. Johnson, D - 1,440
* Rocco G. Trungadi, R - 1,889