By Matt Szafranski
Unless an election happens to fall on an even year and often only if divisible by four, elections do not usually bring out the crowds. Nevertheless, Connecticut residents, weary of over a week without power showed up to choose leaders for a host of municipal races. New mayors were elected in Middletown, New Britain, Newington and Waterbury among others. The Secretary of State called turnout normal despite storm related disruptions to some polling places.
In Hartford, Mayor Pedro Segarra won a full term in the general election, as expected. Due to the massive partisan advantage Democrats enjoy over Republicans in the city, the bigger race was actually earlier in the Fall during the Democratic primary. Democrats in municipal races across the state also had an advantage that they had not had in years. The party in control of the governor’s office gets the “A” or top line on the ballot.
In Waterbury, incumbent mayor Mike Jarjura, who recently switched parties from Democrat to Republican, was defeated by Democrat Neil O’Leary, the city’s former police chief.
Democrats, who hold a large registration advantage in New Britain, also took back that city’s mayoralty. Rep. Timothy O’Brien defeated the incumbent, Republican Mark Bernacki. Meanwhile in Middletown, Democrat Dan Drew overcame Sebastian Giuliano as, in the Hartford Courant’s estimate, the race became bogged down into the politics of the city’s police department.
In Newington, Democrats took back the mayor’s seat on the town council and maintained their majorities on the Council and Board of Education. A recount narrowly secured a spot for a fifth Democrat on the Board of Education. UConn Law student Joshua Shulman, profiled in the October Issue of Pro Se, won the third-highest number of votes for Board of Education.
Shulman, in a brief interview with Pro Se, expressed relief that the rigorous campaign had ended, but saw the result as the “culmination of all the hard work.” The Board of Education, which has already been sworn in will focus on organization and meeting with administrators for the time being. Nevertheless, Shulman is already looking to make improvements in instruction and expose upper grade students to more college level curricula.
Although Republicans held several seats around the state, the results provided some relief to statewide Democrats, who worried Governor Dannel Malloy’s budget and low approval ratings would drag down the party in local races. Democrats now focus their attention on the open US Senate and House election next year.