Rob Pescatore Jr. has gathered enough signatures to force a Sept. 13 primary for candidacy the second-district republican Town Council seat.
Pescatore said he garnered 59 signatures, more than the required five percent of registered republicans in his district. The results were certified Monday in the Registrar of Voters office in Town Hall. Only registered republicans may vote in the primary, to be held at . Those registered as unaffiliated can vote if they register as Republicans before noon on Sept. 12.
"People from the TRTC [Trumbull Republican Town Committee] may be upset with me for asking questions of the Herbst administration about the different policies being implemented, but I have an obligation to make sure that my costituents are properly represented and to be sure that we, as a government body, are making the right choices on their behalf — not for any political gain," he said.
Pescatore was not renominated for the seat he won in 2007.
"Mr. Pescatore appears to be confused. He vigorously opposed former First Selectman Ray Baldwin [a democrat], then went against First Selectman Tim Herbst [a republican], attended Mary Beth Thornton's announcement speech supporting the democratic ticket and is now back trying to seek the nomination of the republican party," said TRTC Chairman Jack Testani. "He has demonstrated repeated behavior over the course of the last two years that shows he has a personal agenda, driven by a political vendettas."
Pescatore denied all allegations, and has said he was stripped of his chairmanship of the Town Council Finance Committee because he attended public hearings with Thornton, D-2, regarding the north Nichols sewer projects in districts 2 and 7.
He also vowed "not to engage" the TRTC "in their quest to bring more anger to this town."
"I will focus on the needs of the community," he said.
Testani said that shortly after the 2009 election, Pescatore met with Herbst and asked him to fire employees in the Information Technology Department and put Pescatore in the director's job.
"He also demanded that the first selectman terminate the senior and deputy fire marshals who had testified against" former Fire Marshal Robert Pescatore, the councilman's father, Testani said.
Pescatore Jr. then "embarked on a campaign of harassment of various departments throughout the town," Testani said, citing the minutes of 2010 council and the committee meetings.
Two republican council members, Tony Scinto and Ann Marie Evangelista, were cited in a press release as saying Pescatore said he had "personal agendas with certain people" and "seemed determined to get even with certain people."
North Nichols Sewers, or Contract IV
Pescatore disagrees with his fellow republicans on hiring Tighe & Bond, an engineering firm, to oversee the sewer work in the Nichols area in the eastern end of town and audit the work in Contract III, in the Jog Hill Road area.
"This forensic audit was was the basis for identifying all of the defects in Contract III, which ultimately led to the proper oversight of Contract IV," Testani said.
Pescatore shares concerns with Thornton that north Nichols residents will bear 75 percent of the cost of the project, rather than spreading out costs over the entire town as in past practice. Sewer assessments have not been determined yet.
He's also concerned about Tighe & Bond's costs. "The projected costs of this project have exceeded what we as a district were told they would be. I have opposed the costs of Tighe & Bond not because I disagree with the oversight, but because the town has a set a precedent of covering the engineering costs of sewer lines in every other contract area."
He cited a recent increase of the firm's to cost to $1.8 million. But Herbst has said the firm has saved the town money so the net result will be a smaller bill.
Also, Tighe & Bond has identified problems with the Jog Hill work, for which the town is suing for more than $8 million. Federal investigators are also probing the town's past sewer projects.
Pescatore's Supporters, Detractors
Several people were cited in support of and against Pescatore. Andrew Palo, vice chairman of the Board of Finance and a republican, said he was saddened at the TRTC's statements.
"As we just witnessed at the national level with our country's debt negotiations, it is time for republicans to throw aside their radical way of approaching problems and to instead reach across the aisle and work with others to conquer the issues our country faces. Mr. Pescatore's sin was he did just that," Palo said. "He reached across the aisle and held numerous town-hall style meetings for the residents of District 2 over the last two years."
"His hard-working demeanor and willingness to listen to diverse opinions is what you want out of Town Council representative," Palo added.
The TRTC quoted one Nichols constituent saying Pescatore was not involved in fighting a fuel cell that was slated for Huntington Turnpike and Primrose Drive.
"Mr. Pescatore was virtually nowhere to be found when we were fighting a power plant," said Richard Moore, a lifelong Nichols resident who helped lead a citizen group against it.
"Mr. Pescatore attended one, maybe two meetings and then disappeared. Other town leaders in both parties were there to help us. Mr. Pescatore, on the other hand, was not there to help us," Moore said.
The republican candidates for town council are incumbent Jane Deyoe and Attorney Jeffrey Donofrio, whom Herbst, the incumbent for first selectman, praised.
"Jane has represented her constituents very well. She is hard-working, diligent and well-respected on both sides of the aisle. Attorney Donofrio will bring professionalism, sound judgment, integrity and character to the Town Council," Herbst said.
Meanwhile, Pescatore thanked his constituents.
"It has been an honor to serve District 2 for the past for years and I look forward to continuing my service," he said.