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Hoydick, Philips win Stratford mayoral primaries

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STRATFORD -

Stephanie Philips, the first openly gay and African-American female candidate for mayor of Stratford cleared her primary day hurdle Tuesday night, beating two other Democrats.

"The first thing I'm going to do is rip the door off the mayor's office and be accessible to everyone," Philips told News 12 at her campaign headquarters shortly after her victory. "I want to listen to people. I want people to come talk to me. I want them to know that I'm there for them. I want them to tell me what they need to see changed."

On the Republican side, Laura Hoydick, a certified public accountant and former state representative, bested Sandra Zalik, a former member of the Stratford Town Council, in the race. Hoydick scored a decisive victory, beating Zalik 1,385 votes to 315.

After earning the victory, Hoydick said she's optimistic and looking to gain more support heading into the general election.

"We can respect each other. We can share our opinions," she said. "We can get on the same vision, the same path, and we can move this town forward."

Five candidates for mayor of Stratford were among the political hopefuls across the state seeking their party's nomination as primary voting came to a close Tuesday.

In Stratford, two Republicans and three Democrats sought the chance to try and succeed Mayor John Harkins, a Republican who did not seek re-election.

Zalik ran on a platform that called for improving the maintenance of public buildings, redeveloping the Shakespeare Theater and creating an arts and entertainment district. Zalik said one of her biggest priorities would be lowering taxes and touted her background as a certified public accountant. 

"I'm tired of all the politics and the politicians and the partisanship and the fighting," Zalik said earlier in the day. "It's not getting our town anywhere, and it's time to get a professional in that office."

Hoydick received an endorsement from Senate Republicans and is also a former planning commissioner on the Stratford Board of Education. She said she understands taxpayer frustration at the lack of a town budget. She said she would try to coax lawmakers to work together.

Harkins vetoed three budgets that town lawmakers passed this year.

"Where's the stability that we need? Same problem that we're having in Connecticut, we're having in Stratford, and we need to correct it," Hoydick said.

Both Zalik and Hoydick spent Tuesday visiting different polling places and speaking with voters.  

Zalik said that even without the GOP nod, she has enough signatures to be a petitioning candidate, which could get her on the November ballot. After the loss, she said over the phone that she would still be in the running.

"This is just a warm up," Zalick said. "I need a bigger team...It's very difficult to manage a campaign without the party machine behind you."

On the Democratic side, three candidates vied in an open primary after none garnered enough support at the party caucus to win the Democratic nomination.

Philips campaigned on a plan to expand education, housing for seniors and small businesses while lowering crime.

Candidate Joe Paul said he wants to streamline the government and form a coalition of towns, so large-scale purchases can be done as a way to reduce costs and taxes. He's also a supporter of revitalizing the Shakespeare Theater, along with Zalik and the other Democratic hopefuls. Paul said he would still be on the ballot in November because he petitioned to be an independent candidate in case he didn't win. 

The third Democratic challenger, Lenny Petrucelli, is the vice chairman of the Stratford Board of Education. He said he wants to revitalize the Army Engine plant and jumpstart further economic development.

As for voters -- many have said that reducing taxes is their main concern.

The polls closed at 8 p.m. Election workers said earlier that they'd seen a higher turnout this year than in a typical off-season primary.

The general election is Nov. 7.

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