Election 2023: Dionna Carlson Elected First Selectman; Republicans Hold BOE Seats


New Canaan voters on Tuesday elected Republican Dionna Carlson as first selectman, while the GOP also staved off challenges to party-held seats on the Board of Education.

A former Board of Ed chair, Carlson defeated Democrat and Board of Finance member Amy Murphy Carroll 3,738 to 3,082 on a day that saw strong voter turnout, with nearly half of New Canaan’s electorate casting ballots.

Here’s a look at contested race results, as filed by the town with state election officials:

Election 2023 Results

RaceCandidate (winners in bold)Votes
First SelectmanDionna Carlson (R)3,738
Amy Murphy Carroll (D)3,082
Board of Education (2-year term)Hugo Alves (R)3,571
Josh Kaye (D)3,137
Board of Education (4-year term)Matt Campbell (R)3,690
Lauren Connolly Nussbaum (D)3,457
Brendan Hayes (D)3,515
Lara Kelly (R)3,676
Giacomo Landi (U)1,003
Matt Wexler (R)3,518
* Source: Town of New Canaan


Carlson handily bested the incumbent first selectman at the GOP Caucus in July. Carlson and Murphy Carroll both ran on campaigns that called for increased transparency, teamwork and civility at Town Hall. Murphy Carroll and Steve Karl will serve as selectmen on a new Board of Selectmen chaired by Carlson that is expected to start meeting publicly Nov. 21.

The Board of Ed race was hotly contested as Democrats put forward two candidates, hoping to pick up a seat, and an unaffiliated candidate also entered the race in Giacomo Landi. The low voter-getter among Republican BOE candidates, Matt Wexler, edged challenging Democrat Lauren Connolly Nussbaum by just 61 votes—a reflection of how much closer Board of Ed races have grown in the past two elections. 

In 2017, the Democrats running for BOE earned 25.4% fewer votes than their Republican counterparts, on average, and 30% in 2019, according to Connecticut Secretary of the State records. Then in 2021, that margin dropped to 7.5%, and the unofficial results from Tuesday put the differential at 4%. 

The nine-member Board of Ed remains six Republicans and three Democrats.

In uncontested races, New Canaan elected Democrats Janet Fonss and Jennifer Zonis, and Republicans Eric Thunem, Maria Naughton, Mike Mauro and Cristina A. Ross to the Town Council (the last three incumbents). Voters also re-elected Claudia Weber as town clerk and Andrew Brooks as town treasurer. John Matz, Kevin McIntosh (incumbent) and Tony Calanca were elected to the Board of Assessment Appeals, and in a contested constable race Democratic incumbents Susan Edmands, Nick Mitrakis and Ed Vollmer and prevailed, as did GOP incumbents Alberto Gonzalez, Greg Pepe and Jill Guzzetti, and Republican Bob Naughton.

Weber was the highest overall vote-getter with 4,772.

[This article has been corrected to remove an incorrect reference to the percentage difference in the first selectman race, and to show that Constable Alberto Gonzalez is a Republican. We initially listed Gonzalez as a Democrat.]

9 thoughts on “Election 2023: Dionna Carlson Elected First Selectman; Republicans Hold BOE Seats

  1. I encourage everybody to consider running for office once – it is a great experience even if you come up short – and an essential part of living in a democracy.

      • Substitute man for person – but I personally very much enjoy this quote from Teddy Roosevelt “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” – perhaps a bit harsh in this day in age but I really do encourage people to get involved locally – this is where it is actually possible and where you can make a very positive impact to many lives (as well as your own).

        • Giacomo I love that quote. Never saw it before, thanks for sharing. It doesn’t apply to the Board of Ed, in my opinion, because we’re not talking about “critics.” We allow for criticism because when done well it’s necessary and constructive.

          • Thanks Giacomo for stepping up and serving. You ran a really positive campaign and alway came across as well-informed and a practical problem solver.
            I agree with Mike though that certain candidates, one good friend in particular, were on the receiving end of negative campaigning. I would like to say both parties need to do better, but that’s really not an honest statement. The RTC mailers and communications crossed the line.

          • It might be better if, in future local election years, the heads of the DTC and RTC agreed on some ground rules for how their organizations’ communications will be used. I would suggest that any time a post goes out through one of those organization’s channels—DTC/RTC Instagram, Facebook, mailers, e-blasts—that there’s a name attached to what’s written/posted. Because those organizations have withheld the names of those individuals this year, I believe that making the rule would cut down on the misuse of those channels. What trolls do on their own under anonymous accounts is a separate matter, and I’m not sure how the wider community can solve for someone’s low self-esteem. But if the DTC and RTC could at least agree to use their own comms responsibly, that would be a very good start, in my opinion. I don’t think a discussion of who started it or went further will help move the community forward on this, there’s no scoreboard—though perhaps down the road some of those behind the attacks will come to understand the apologies they owe to their anonymously targeted candidates. It seems like we’ve arrived at a place where we have two sets of people in each party, a group of well-meaning candidates for elected office, and a group of lonely trolls who have been free to hijack communications. It strikes me as deeply unfair that candidates are continually set up as targets by the latter group within their own parties. The trolls know exactly what they’re doing, what the response will be and—because they lack the wherewithal to post under their own names—who will be targeted in response. They merrily escalate, back-and-forth, while well-meaning candidates get caught in the crossfire. I don’t believe this is a Democratic or Republican behavior—there are people in loveless marriages on all sides—and I wonder if there are residents within the leadership of either local party who’d be willing to step up and fix this recurring problem.

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