Testani stepping down; says he is proud of GOP message

When the numbers came in Nov. 5, Republican Town Committee Chair Jack Testani knew that the message he has helped create as head of the town GOP, and progress made over the last four years, had resonated with voters in a big way.

“I felt as though I had accomplished my goal as far as establishing the party,” Testani said of the last election.

The landslide victory for Republicans in the last election was a high note for Testani, who is stepping down as chairman this month after six years. He said stepping down will allow him to focus on his role on the Police Commission, and to support First Selectman Timothy Herbst’s bid for state treasurer. Being chairman is a busy job, and Testani joked he sometimes has to remind people that he has a full-time job that actually pays him.

Testani’s road to local politics started when he and other fathers were interested in formingFormer First Selectman Ken Halaby helped make it happen, and to show thanks, Testani joined Trumbull Republicans in 2001. His interest in politics was also piqued when his sons were young and he started to be concerned about tax increases.

His wife, Suzanne Testani, currently serves on the Town Council.

Testani was elected to the Board of Finance in 2004. He was later elected vice chair of the town committee under Chairman Dee Chiota and eventually became chair, as Timothy Herbst decided to throw his hat in the ring for the town’s top office.

“One of our goals when Tim was first running is we were going to have a budget that would convey reasonable, modest and predictable tax increases,” Testani said.

Herbst’s first victory, in 2009, was a big accomplishment for the party.

“Not only did we beat a four-term incumbent but we won in Nancy DiNardo’s town,” Testani said of the state Democratic chairwoman. “There were quite a few negative mailers sent out by the other side during that campaign. What the message was and has been on the Republican side is more what we can do for the voters and why people should vote for us — versus any reference to anything personal or political.”

Testani said the team behind him has helped Republicans find success in the last local elections.

“I have a lot of very smart people who have helped me along the way, in terms of winning elections and creating a message to resonate with the voters,” Testani said. “We want to make Trumbull a better place to live.”

Loyalty, finances

A big part of keeping the party strong is fund raising, and the Trumbull GOP has raised impressive amounts for a town its size, he said.

Organizing the volunteer members of the committee is another important aspect.

“Recognizing people’s strengths comes from my corporate experience,” Testani said. “I’m fortunate to recognize what people would prefer to do and delegate the responsibilities.”

It also means encouraging everyone to work together, despite differences. Testani said loyalty is key to success.

“We’ve worked at keeping our own house in order and not speaking negatively on people within our own party,” he said. “We’ve been able to address issues we have within the party so we all play nice in the sandbox.”

Later this month, when Testani steps down, he said, he will be endorsing Paul Lavoie for the chairmanship. Lavoie serves on Trumbull’s Board of Finance. Vice Chair Karen Egri has decided not to run for chair, Testani said. He thanked Egri, treasurer Loretta Chory and all party volunteers.

“I get the glory because I’m the chair, but people volunteer so many hours of their time,” he said.

Testani won’t be leaving the Trumbull party completely. He is heading a party subcommittee on voter outreach.

His advice to his party is to keep the message to voters intact.

“Really, my goal is to try to make Trumbull a more affordable place to live for the future, including my boys, should they choose to move back someday” Testani said.