Newly ousted members of the Easton Republican Town Committee are collecting signatures to force a primary to regain their two-year seats.
The petition for a primary follows the ERTC’s caucus held on Jan. 4 at Samuel Staples Elementary School, during which many longtime committee members were voted out and replaced with newcomers. Many of the newcomers belong to conservative groups in town, according to Ray Martin, one of the ousted committee members who is gathering signatures.
“They specifically targeted the moderates and replaced us with right-wing extremists from Save our Town/Save Our Schools and Citizens for Responsible Government,” Martin said.
Martin said during the caucus that members from Save Our Town/Save Our Schools and Citizens for Responsible Government put forth its own alternate slate of candidates who outvoted him and other established candidates by a 5 to 1 margin.
“They packed the house,” Martin said. “We didn’t have a chance.”
The caucus shakeup was led by June Logie, the treasurer of Citizens for Responsible Government. She challenged the town committee’s slate of 30 candidates with her own list of 12 names. Logie’s group has fought against several school and town initiatives. Local activist and Trump supporter Dana Benson founded the conservative LLC Save Our Town/Save Our Schools to influence school policies. Katherine Kuhn is the co-chair of SOT/SOS with Benson and was one of the 12 candidates included on Logie’s slate.
“They aren’t a good thing for the town,” Martin said. “They are obstructionists who have spent decades working against town policies.”
Martin is gathering signatures to force a primary along with nine other registered Republicans, six of whom were nominated by the ERTC but were not elected at the caucus: Martin, Richard J. Colangelo, Thomas Bladek, James Riling, Alison Sternberg, and Scott Centrella.
Logie’s slate beat four additional longterm incumbents who were put forward by the ERTC nominating committee: Adam Dunsby, Robert Maquat, Philip Doremus, and Mary Ann Freeman. Four other Republicans are also petitioning to be included on the ballot: Ray Ganim, Ray Martin III, Jake Martin, and Kevin Rodrigue.
Dori Wollen, Republican registrar of voters, said Martin has until Jan. 26 to submit 81 verified signatures from registered Easton Republicans. If he collects enough signatures a primary will be held on March 1, she said.
“They have a right to primary,” Wollen said. “The system permits it according to state statute.”
According to the caucus meeting minutes, during the two-hour session, 79 Republicans in attendance voted by paper ballot for an initial slate of 30 members put forward by the ERTC nominating committee. After the votes were tallied, just 18 of those 30 members received more than the required 50 percent of the vote. That left 12 remaining slots open for nomination.
Then, in what Town Clerk Christine Halloran described as an “odd” move, Logie made an approved motion to substitute a second slate of 12 names to be considered for nomination. Logie then distributed paper copies with the 12 names.
“As a town clerk and certifier of elections I found it odd to have a prepared list of names that wasn’t prepared by the town committee,” Halloran said. “We came in thinking that we would vote on a slate of 30 candidates, and that’s not what happened.”
All 12 of the nominated candidates from Logie’s proposed slate received more than the required 40 votes and were elected by a majority. They are: Blaise Ancona, Doreen Esposito, Salvatore Giardina, Katherine Kuhns, Michael Kot, Daniel Lent, Glen Maiorano, Adele O’Kane, Joseph Samon, Robert Santangeli, Dwight Senior, and Shari Williams.
Below are the final vote totals for all of the nominated candidates from both rounds of voting according to documents obtained from the Town Clerk’s office (with addresses redacted by the Courier):
The Courier has also obtained a document labeled “Voting List” that was circulated before the caucus endorsing 30 candidates. Of the endorsed candidates, 18 were selected from the official ERTC slate and the other 12 comprised the slate introduced by Logie during the caucus meeting.
The 18 current members and 12 new candidates endorsed in the “Voting List” document mirror the final caucus election results:
Wendy Bowditch, ERTC chair, did not attend the caucus. In a letter published in the Easton Courier shortly after the caucus she stated, “The ERTC membership for the next two years reflects a new group of equally talented and diverse backgrounds with a shared purpose of serving Easton.” Later, in response to the recent petition, she said she supports the primary process, but “it’s unfortunate it has to come to this.”
If held, the March 1 primary will give all registered Republicans in Easton the opportunity to elect the 30 members they want to sit on the committee for a two-year term. The ballot would list the 30 candidates elected at the Jan. 4 caucus, as well as the 10 Republicans filing the petition.
“They will have a slate of 30. I will have a slate of 10. The top voter getters get in,” Martin said.
Note: The PDF document below includes the minutes of the caucus meeting submitted to the Town Clerk’s office, the signed vote tallies from the caucus, and the caucus rules for the endorsement of town committee candidates.