Ridgefield Democrats Nominate Leaders for 2021 Municipal Election

Ridgefield, CT, July 27, 2021 – The Ridgefield Democratic Town Committee unanimously nominated a 16-candidate slate on Monday to run for municipal office this fall.

The slate of exceptional municipal candidates was selected at a public meeting of the DTC convened at Town Hall. In accordance with State Democratic Party Rules, the slate of candidates was nominated at a DTC meeting.

Led by DTC Chair Joe Shapiro, DTC members unanimously selected 16 Ridgefielders – half of them new to elective office – to bring fresh perspectives, a wealth of experience, and dedication to key Ridgefield boards and commissions.

DTC Recruiting Chair Robert Hendrick put the name of each candidate into nomination. The DTC voted unanimously to nominate all the presented candidates, affirming the robust recruiting results.

After all voting was complete, First Selectman Rudy Marconi thanked the candidates, the incumbent officials, and the members of the DTC. Marconi lauded the Ridgefield Democrats’ robust volunteer spirit, “which will ensure that these outstanding Democratic candidates will serve the town on our municipal boards and commissions after the election.”

“The voters’ decisions this November will affect our town’s future in fundamental ways,” commented Shapiro. “The Democratic slate combines experienced incumbents who’ve proved effective in office with new faces who will bring additional innovation and leadership to further enhance Ridgefield’s quality of life.”

The DTC’s slates for Board of Education and Board of Finance feature exceptionally qualified individuals with extensive knowledge of Ridgefield schools, education, and municipal finance, respectively, and commitment to both fiscal responsibility and excellent town services for all ages, from students in our schools to seniors who have chosen Ridgefield for their retirement. The Board of Education slate consists of incumbent Tina Malhotra and new candidates Selina K. Bell, Amy Casey, and former Superior Court Judge Tom Colin.  The Board of Finance team consists of incumbent Mike Rettger and newly incumbent Andrew Okrongly.

For Planning & Zoning Commission and Inland Wetlands Board, the Democratic candidates bring credentials and experience in zoning and conservation, as well as a keen interest in advancing reform, transparency, accountability, and environmental stewardship.  The Planning & Zoning slate is incumbent Joe Dowdell and two who will be new on the Ridgefield ballot, Elizabeth DiSalvo and Mariah Hutchings Okrongly.  For the Inland Wetlands Board, the candidates bringing environmental sensitivity and experience are Chris Phelps and David L. Smith.

The DTC also nominated an outstanding and experienced slate of two candidates for the Board of Police Commissioners, Ralph Money, an incumbent, and Sharon Wicks Dornfeld, who has decades of public service to our town.  

The Democratic candidates for the two town boards with more adjudicatory roles, the Zoning Board of Appeals and the Board of Assessment Appeals, are all incumbents who have performed those roles with true excellence.  Incumbents Terry Bearden-Rettger and Joseph M. Pastore III have previously been elected to the Zoning Board of Appeals.  Experienced Board of Assessment Appeals Chair Jeff Lundberg will be running for reelection as well.

The DTC conducted an exhaustive eight-month process soliciting, recruiting, interviewing, and vetting potential candidates. All registered Ridgefield Democrats were invited to participate in the process, which was publicized in local press, online, on social media and at monthly DTC public meetings.

According to Robert Hendrick, “We were really impressed by the highly-qualified Democrats who care deeply about our town and who expressed an interest in serving the community. For many, this is the first time in an electoral role, but it comes after having demonstrated deep interest and commitment to serving the public.  Four of the candidates who will appear on the ballot for the first time grew up in Ridgefield, and the feelings toward our town engendered by their deep roots have motivated them to run for public office. All the members of these boards/commissions serve as volunteers.  As elected officials, they will work in the best interests of all Ridgefielders.”

Shapiro expressed the Ridgefield Democrats’ deep gratitude to current Democratic members of our elective boards whose terms expire in November and who are not seeking reelection and to those Democratic officials and board members not up for election this year, and he complimented the outstanding slate of Democratic candidates standing for election in November 2021.

This is the complete list of Democrats nominated for the 2021 municipal election, with an asterisk to note an incumbent:

  • Board of Finance:
    • Andrew Okrongly*
    • Mike Rettger*
  • Board of Education:
    • Selina K. Bell
    • Amy Casey
    • Tom Colin
    • Tina Malhotra*
  • Planning & Zoning Commission:
    • Elizabeth DiSalvo
    • Joe Dowdell*
    • Mariah Hutchings Okrongly
  • Inland Wetlands Board:
    • Chris Phelps
    • David L. Smith
  • Zoning Board of Appeals:
    • Terry Bearden-Rettger* (5-year seat beginning in November 2022)
    • Joseph M. Pastore III* (5-year seat beginning in November 2021)
  • Board of Assessment Appeals: 
    • Jeff Lundberg*
  • Board of Police Commissioners:
    • Sharon Wicks Dornfeld
    • Ralph Money*