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Huge Voter Turnout Yields New Laws and a New Official

After an overwhelming voter turnout, Wilton will allow liquor stores to open in town, have a few revisions to the Town Charter, and a new Republican member on the Board of Finance.

The numbers were still unofficial late into the night and that, alone, was telling: so many Wiltonians came out to vote on Tuesday that all three polling stations ran out of machine-read ballots and some 800 additional ballots had to be hand-counted.

Final results, however, showed that an impressive 38.4 percent (4324 of 11,244) of registered residents participated, nearly twice the number of the last municipal election in 2007. At night's end, the earlier results from the machine-counted votes held up.

In the town's only contested race, Gail Lavielle won one of the three full-term Board of Finance seats, receiving 2,703 votes between the three districts. Current BOF Chairman Warren Serenbetz, Lavielle's partner on the Republican ticket, retained his seat on the board with 2,466 votes, and Andy Pforzheimer kept his as well with 2,313. His partner on the Democratic ticket, Chris Stroup, finished fourth with 2,210.

A majority of Wiltonians decided it was time to welcome package stores into town, with 2,363 voters (57 percent) in favor of the initiative and 1,801 opposed. The vote to adopt the new Town Charter revisions was much less contested, with 2,750 (76 percent) in favor and 872 opposed.

The Republican Town Committee and its candidates and friends celebrated their victories at Old Town Hall Tuesday night, remarking on how encouraging it was to see Wiltonians turn out in such force. Lavielle, who won her first appointment to elected office, was the center of attention.

"[Gail] deserves to be the top vote-getter because she has worked harder than I've seen anyone work in a long time," said State Sen. Toni Boucher.

Boucher commended Lavielle for her door-to-door approach and being able to juggle meeting so many residents with her many other commitments, including teaching, speaking out frequently and adamantly against the construction of Super 7, serving on the energy commission, and her many other engagements.

"I can't tell you how proud I am," Lavielle said following Boucher's commendation. "It's quite an honor to hear all of that from Toni... and it's quite an honor to be asked to ever run for this office."

Lavielle directed her thanks specifically to her fellow Republicans gathered in the Old Town Hall.

"The one thing I most want to say is that I am extremely and deeply proud to be a part of this group of ladies and gentlemen," she said.

First Selectman Bill Brennan, who ran unopposed and was re-elected to office, said he was pleased with the results.

"I'm glad to see the liquor referendum passed successfully," he said. "It was time... and I think we won a significant victory tonight that sends a strong message."

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