DiPace tapped to lead Enfield Democrats
By Stacey A. Silliman
ENFIELD - The Democratic Town Committee elected a new town chairman Wednesday night during an organizational meeting that also included talk of unifying the party for the fall legislative elections.
Anthony DiPace, the former chairman of the Planning and Zoning Commission, was elected by a vote of 41 to 31. He defeated Brian H. Peruta, the former District 1 councilman, for the local party's top job.
Peruta said today that he launched his own candidacy at the last minute.
"There was only one person running, and so I was a reluctant candidate because I thought choice was a good thing," he said.
DiPace takes over the town chairmanship from Karen Weseliza, who won the job two years ago and did not seek a second term.
"Karen asked me if I'd be interested in running, and then I began to hear from others that I should run," DiPace said while accepting congratulations from fellow party members at the end of Wednesday's meeting.
Both DiPace and former Deputy Mayor Kenneth Hilinski spoke of the need for party unity going forward.
The party is coming off its worst defeat in a municipal election since the introduction of council-manager government more than four decades ago. The Republicans won a 7-4 majority on the Town Council in the November elections, and the Democratic casualties included both Peruta and Hilinski.
"Please bring forward the issues that have festered, so we can move forward and win the next election," Hilinski told the assembly. "It's the key to moving forward."
"As long as we're together, we can win," DiPace added.
Their comments were greeted with many nods of agreement from the members of the town committee.
Peruta said such discussions at the town committee level are rare and he was glad to see changes talked about during Wednesday's meeting.
"Tony's job now - and it's a challenging one - is to keep the momentum going," he said.
DiPace, who serves as a town constable and owns Hazardville Motors, also spoke of the need to listen to voters' concerns in order for the party to best address local issues.
"God gave us two ears and a mouth for a reason," he said: "We're to listen twice as much."
The town committee comprises 100 members divided among the town's four council districts. The town chairman serves for two years.
While the Town Council is not up for election until next year, Democrats have their eye on state legislative races this fall, including possibly challenging Republican Sen. John A. Kissel, who is expected to seek a ninth term in the 7th District.