Republican, Democratic Slates Set as State Election Race Gets Underway (Video)

Southington conventions on Wednesday evening gave both parties an opportunity to finalize their slates for the 2012 state elections.

It may only be May, but the race for seats in the State Legislature is now in full swing.

Both the Southington Republican Town Committee and Southington Democratic Town Committee held their final local conventions Wednesday evening, officially nominating their candidates for the 81st Assembly Districts and finalizing their slates for the 2012 election.

Cheryl Lounsbury, the Republican candidate for the 81st district, said during the convention at that she believes what the state needs now is a change in leadership to get the economy back on track and help provide a stable budget that will help the state better prepare for the future.

“The Democrats have controlled the House in Hartford for 26 years and the Senate for 24 years and in that time, what has happened? Our deficit spending has continued to grow, our budgets continue to increase, we are known as a ‘business unfriendly’ state, our taxes are among the highest in the union and on and on and on,” Lounsbury said.

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Lounsbury, a current Town Councilor who also served from 1981-1991, is the former chairman of the Southington Republican Town Committee.

The 81st Assembly District, long-held by retiring State Rep. Bruce “Zeke” Zalaski, is up for grabs with Lounsbury squaring off against Democrat David Zoni. Zoni received the Democratic nomination on Wednesday night.

The district is the only one that lies entirely within the town of Southington.

Zoni, a former town council member nominated Wednesday at the Masonic Lodge, is also seeking his second bid for state office after running for the 16th Senate District in 2006 when he lost to Republican Sam Caligiuri. Zoni said that he believes his experience as a small business owner paired with his knowledge of government and his connections in Hartford make him the best qualified candidate for the job.

“What Southington needs is a representative who can go into the House and immediately make a difference, a member of a party who can get things done,” Zoni said.

“I have the connections it takes to make an immediate impact and intend to focus on the economy, education reform and the issues that the state and residents of Southington need us to address now,” he said.

The conventions Wednesday were the last for the upcoming election. Both parties have held conventions over the past several weeks to nominate their candidates for the 30th Assembly District, 80th Assembly District, 103rd Assembly District and 16th Senate District.

For the Democrats, there is a mix of familiar names and new faces in the race this year. Incumbent 30th district candidate and appeared at his convention to accept the nomination just hours after attending his mom’s funeral. He has hopes to be the next Speaker of the House.

He will run unopposed, a decision made when Republicans in Berlin and Southington were unable to find a qualified challenger to run against him.

“He will be running unopposed unless there is an Independent who steps up to challenge him,” said Brian Callahan, chairman of the Southington Republican Town Committee. “We take pride in putting up the strongest slate we can and we will stand behind our selections.”

In the 80th district, Republican Incumbent Rob Sampson will square off against Democrat Charles “Chuck” Marsella, a Wolcott Town Council member and the former Wolcott fire chief. The Republican 103rd district incumbent Al Adinolfi will face an unnamed opponent from Cheshire, Democrats said Wednesday.

“We have a candidate in place and we believe there will be strong competition for his seat,” said Elaine Bedard, chairwoman of the Southington Democratic Town Committee.

The senate race will see Republican incumbent Joseph Markley go head to head with a familiar face from the Democratic party, former State Rep. John “Corky” Mazurek.

Mazurek, who officially received the nomination over the weekend, said he is looking forward to the opportunity to get back into office after losing his seat to Sampson by just 40 votes in 2010 election. He said he is confident he will win the senate seat this year.

“My record stands for itself. There is a lot I have accomplished at the capitol,” Mazurek said. “What has (Markley) done to help the people of Southington? I challenge him to show what he has accomplished in the past two years.”

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