An outspoken Town Council Democrat is emerging as First Selectman Tim Herbst’s competition for the town’s top office.

Vicki Tesoro, who represents District 3 and serves as minority leader of the Town Council, is seeking her party’s nomination as its candidate for the first selectman race in November.

Tesoro has not made a formal announcement — she plans to do so next week — but a top ranking member of the Trumbull Democratic Town Committee told The Times that Tesoro is stepping forward to challenge Herbst. That member said no other Democrats are seeking the nomination. There has been much discussion about potential candidates since Herbst announced his bid for re-election in early April.

“I think she is a candidate that everyone in the Democratic Party can get behind and a candidate that will run for Trumbull and not against Tim Herbst,” the Democrat said. “There is so much we can do to make this town a better place for everyone to live. We’re confident she is the person who can bring this town together.”

Tesoro later confirmed the news.

“The Democrats intend to wage a clean issue-oriented campaign showcasing our vision for the future of Trumbull as well as our philosophy of governing our wonderful town,” she said. “If given the opportunity to be the Democratic candidate I will wage a campaign that will make our community proud.

“Our priorities for our town and the tone of how we govern will be decidedly different. I look forward to the upcoming campaign,” she said.

Tesoro has served on the council since 2011. She has a long volunteer record in town, including past PTSA President at Trumbull High, Madison Middle School and Tashua Elementary. She is a part of the Trumbull Partnership Against Underage Drinking (TPAUD), and helped develop the Underage Drinking Forum at Trumbull High School, presented annually to freshmen students and their parents.

Tesoro has served on the Trumbull Academic Challenge for Excellence (ACE) board and as a Board of Education Policy Advisory Committee member. In the past, she was awarded First Selectman Tim Herbst’s Clarence Heimann Leadership Award.

On the Town Council, Tesoro is one of only four Democrats on the 21-member board. Tesoro is outspoken at council meetings, regularly asking questions and introducing topics for discussion. While often fighting a losing battle on a Republican-controlled council, Tesoro has voted against or raised concerns about some recent Herbst-supported initiatives, including hiring a new director of Parks and Recreation and the town leaving the Trumbull Monroe Health District.

She has also been a school budget supporter on the council and spoken against some reductions made to the budget.

Tesoro is a self-employed fiduciary and individual tax consultant, affiliated with law firms. She has a bachelor’s degree from UConn and a master of science degree in taxation from Pace University.

She and her husband Tom Tesoro — a former Board of Finance member — have two daughters who went through Trumbull schools.
Herbst responds
The first selectman said he looks forward to the challenge of facing off with Tesoro, who he said he likes personally, though they often disagree politically.

“I personally like Vicki and respect a lot of what she does in the community, especially the underage drinking forum,” Herbst said. “My issue is with a lot of people she surrounds herself with. As my grandmother taught me, you judge a person by the company they keep.”

Herbst said he hopes Tesoro will run an issues-oriented campaign and looks forward to the chance to debate with her.
Last election
In 2013, Herbst won re-election to a third term by a landslide, against Democratic challenger Martha Jankovic-Mark.

The GOP ticket, overall, easily swept into office in the last municipal election. However, Democrats had a win last July in a special election for a Board of Finance seat. Democrat Lainie McHugh beat Republican Bill Haberlin by about 100 votes.

The Democrat who spoke to The Times Tuesday said the party plans to focus on the issues and the strengths of its candidate, as they say they did in the special election.

Herbst ran for state treasurer in 2014, in what turned out to be a close race against incumbent Denise Nappier. While Nappier won, Herbst gained name recognition and has been mentioned as a potential Republican candidate for governor in the future.