CT election results: Bridgeport up in the air; Hartford has new mayor; New Haven re-elects Elicker
Hartford has elected a new mayor, while New Haven's mayor easily defeated his challengers.
In Derby, an alderman facing charges in the Jan. 6 riot lost his bid for mayor.
Meanwhile, there was no conclusion Tuesday night to Bridgeport’s head-spinning mayoral race. That comes as the race has been tied up in a legal battle and a judge ordered a redo of the September primary.
Voters across Connecticut cast ballots in a number of municipal elections, including contests for mayor in several large cities.
Here's a roundup, including scenes from the polls across the state:
In Bridgeport, Ganim has a lead, but election isn't over
Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim pulled ahead late Tuesday evening, according to unofficial results, and declared victory around midnight over John Gomes.
But the race is far from over.
The election is tied up in court because of a ballot-stuffing controversy. A judge recently threw out the results of the September primary after reviewing video evidence that appears to show absentee ballots being mishandled. Gomes had filed a complaint after the video surfaced.
Gomes said Bridgeport voters are tired of interference in their elections.
“They’re tired; they’re frustrated; they're angry,” he said. “They saw on video what they did to them. They stole the election from them; they stole the election from us.”
Ganim on Tuesday night called on Gomes to withdraw his legal challenge.
The Associated Press, which declares election winners, said it will not declare a winner in the Bridgeport general election until all legal issues and challenges related to the primary are resolved.
Because of the judge’s order, Ganim and Gomes may have to face each other again in a new primary to be held at a later date. Then, depending on the outcome of the continuing court fight, there might be a rerun of the general election.
“The one thing I want to make clear is that this is not over. It’s not over,” Gomes told supporters shortly before Ganim claimed victory.
Bridgeport officials had not yet appealed the judge’s order as of Tuesday. An appeal could possibly stall the new primary or cancel it altogether if the ruling is overturned.
In Derby, alderman facing charges in Jan. 6 riot loses mayoral race
A man facing charges for his alleged role in the Jan. 6 riot in the U.S. Capitol has lost his bid to become mayor of Derby.
Gino DiGiovanni, Jr., an alderman, lost to Democrat Joseph DiMartino, who previously ran for mayor in 2021. The Associated Press called the race for DiMartino at around 9:45 p.m. Tuesday.
Derby’s mayoral race attracted national attention to the small city about 10 miles west of New Haven. City officials reported more than 40% of eligible voters turned out for the off-year election.
Hartford elects its next mayor, Arunan Arulampalam, a newcomer to politics
Arunan Arulampalam, a political newcomer and leader of a Hartford nonprofit, will be the next mayor of Hartford. The Associated Press called the race around 8:45 p.m. Tuesday night.
Arulampalam easily shook off challenges from Republican Mike McGarry and a number of petitioning candidates. He also defeated former state Sen. Eric Coleman, a retired Superior Court judge who ran as a write-in candidate.
Elicker handily wins third term in New Haven
Incumbent Mayor Justin Elicker easily won a third term as mayor of New Haven Tuesday night. The Associated Press called the race for Elicker shortly before 8:45 p.m. Tuesday.
Elicker defeated Republican Tom Goldenberg and petitioning candidate Wendy Hamilton.
West Haven elects new mayor, following pandemic relief funds scandal
Democrat Dorinda Borer will be the next mayor of West Haven following a shakeup in city leadership in the wake of a COVID-19 relief fund scandal.
Borer defeated Republican nominee and relative outsider Barry Cohen, who conceded the race Tuesday night.
The mayoral seat was vacated by Democrat Nancy Rossi, who is leaving office after a scandal in which a city official was convicted for stealing tens of thousands of dollars in pandemic relief funds.
Our earlier coverage:
Polls close statewide
Polls across Connecticut are now closed. As of 7 p.m. the Secretary of the State's office reported relatively low turnout in the state's biggest city of Bridgeport — only about 6% of eligible voters were reported to have cast a ballot. In Waterbury, the number was around 15%. Hartford and New Haven had not yet reported turnout figures.
With Bridgeport mayoral race tied up in court, Secretary of the State says her office is working on systemic changes
Bridgeport residents are casting ballots for mayor Tuesday, even though a judge threw out the results of the city's Democratic mayoral primary. The judge found that supporters of Mayor Joe Ganim put absentee ballots in drop boxes that they were not supposed to handle.
As the legal process in Bridgeport continues, Secretary of the State Stephanie Thomas said no one knows what to expect after votes are cast on Election Day.
“I think what we can say for sure is that their votes for every other position on the ballot will count ... and it remains to be seen what will happen with the mayoral race,” Thomas told reporters Tuesday afternoon.
Thomas says a new election monitor is at Bridgeport's central vote counting location. She says one election monitor will not solve the city's problem, but she is working on systemic changes to ensure voters can trust the process.
"I'm trying to take a more holistic approach and a different approach," Thomas said.
Voters are going to the polls Tuesday to select town and city leaders across Connecticut.
As of midday, turnout was about 10% statewide, officials said. Among individual towns, Canton and Woodbridge had some of the highest turnout in the state.
There have been no significant problems with voting so far.
People can report problems at the polls by contacting an election hotline, handled by state officials: 866-SEEC-INFO or 866-733-2463 or via email at email@example.com. Thomas said calls have been coming into the hotline and officials are looking into the reports.
— Matt Dwyer
In Stamford, a vote on charter proposals proves controversial
Stamford residents are voting on a controversial proposal to revise the city’s charter.
The ballot includes various changes to the city charter. The revisions range from clarifying definitions to adding new city commissions, including a Housing and a Mental Health Commission.
It would also make seats on the planning and zoning boards elected positions.
Mark Pazniokas with the Connecticut Mirror says that Stamford mayor Caroline Simmons, a Democrat, is not in favor of the revisions.
“Stamford has done very well with economic development and there’s a little bit of blowback on a charter question there that the mayor has already taken some pre-emptive moves against with a change in state law,” Pazniokas told Connecticut Public.
— Abigail Brone
As Hartford voters choose a new mayor, some are concerned about crime
Voting Tuesday was slow but steady at the Artists Collective in Hartford’s North End. Voters in Hartford will choose a new mayor since Luke Bronin is not running for re-election.
Some voters expressed frustration toward crime in the city.
Josephine Clark said crime is a symptom of larger underlying problems.
“There's too many homeless people, and you can't get help," she said. "The shelters don't help you. Evictions, they don't help you, and mental health, they're not helping these people that have real issues. They're doing drugs to help ... self-medicate.”
Clark said she hopes the next mayor will take a more active role in the daily lives of North End residents.
Some voters expressed their hopes for the next mayor to address issues that they say hinder the growth of the city.
Venice Sotomayor, an entrepreneur and North End resident, believes the lack of support for start-up businesses is the biggest challenge facing the community.
“They need the education to get to that point; I don't know how to do it in English,” she said. “It is obvious paperwork, all that stuff. They have it but they don't know how to present it.”
Sotomayor also hopes the next mayor will take the time to experience the daily lives of North End residents and understand the realities they face.
At the Samuel V. Arroyo Center on Pope Street, voters expressed concerns about the education system and lack of resources for the next generation in Hartford.
“There's a lot of issues with taxes, high taxes, the school system, they need a lot of help with the school system,” Emily Morales said. “A lot of property owners, they are from outside of the state, they come and buy property here, and then they just leave. They just want the money, and don't take care of the properties.”
— Maricarmen Cajahuaringa
In Derby, turnout is high as ballot features a high-profile mayor's race
In Derby, voters are turning out to cast ballots in the city’s high-profile mayoral race. Turnout as of midday Tuesday was among the highest among towns across the state.
The Republican nominee, Gino DiGiovanni Jr., has been getting national attention for his involvement in the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. He faces criminal charges.
Jim Gildea, Derby’s Board of Education chairman, was moved by the high turnout.
“After watching low voter turnout for the last couple elections, it’s heartwarming to see people coming out; it’s heartwarming to see people getting engaged,” he said. “I think it sends a clear message that people are unhappy with how things have been for the last two years.”
— Max Berryman
In Bridgeport, voters express frustration over confusing mayoral race
In Bridgeport, people are casting ballots for mayor. But it might not be the final chapter in this year’s election.
A judge ordered the city to redo its September mayoral primary over concerns about how absentee ballots were handled.
Carla Crumb has lived in Bridgeport her whole life and said what happened with the primary is a shame.
"That's not a good thing to do when it comes to elections," Crumb said. "People should be honest at the end of the day."
Once the results from this race are in, election officials will determine what will happen with the second primary.
Ann Cote voted at Thomas Hooker School in Bridgeport. She said the biggest issue she faces is the cost of living. She also worries about how the city is run.
"The city's a mess,” Cote said. “The school system is horrible; the taxes are insane. So, I don't know where to go. The city is corrupt from the get-go."
Incumbent Mayor Joe Ganim and challenger John Gomes – both Democrats – are on the general election ballot. September's primary results were quickly contested in court by Gomes, Ganim’s former aide. That’s after video emerged of a person making what appeared to be multiple trips to stuff stacks of papers into a ballot drop box.
— Bria Lloyd
At the Beardsley Zoo, online election for mayor features a turtle and turkey
A different kind of election is going on at the Beardsley Zoo in Bridgeport. Director Gregg Dancho says five animals are running for mayor of the zoo.
They include Alli the Eastern Box Turtle.
“This is a slow horse in the race,” Dancho told Connecticut Public’s “Where We Live.” “But she is leading the polls right now. This is kind of a shock to a lot of people. She did come out of her shell to enter this race.”
Also on the zoo mayoral ballot this year: Tahu the North American River Otter; Major Tom, the Narragansett Turkey; Ella the Black and Gold Howler monkey and Daisy the Prairie Dog.
Dancho said a “Zooper PAC” was established to assist candidates.
The election will be decided by online votes. The election is a fundraiser, with one-dollar donations being made for each vote cast. People can vote here. Polls close Wednesday at 4 p.m.
— Matt Dwyer
New Haven voters consider ballot question
On the ballot in New Haven is a vote on the city’s charter revision proposal: The mayor and the 30 alders would move from two-year to four-year terms — and alders would get an increase to their annual stipends plus cost-of-living increases.
Joel Tolman, a New Haven educator voting at the city's Hall of Records Tuesday morning, said extending term limits is a key issue.
"I have mixed feelings. I think I probably would support four-year-terms for mayor. I’m not sure about four-year-terms for alders," Tolman said. "It just seems like a more transient position and we’re voting on them as a package so you need to make your choice about the whole thing."
New Haven alders unanimously approved the proposal Aug. 7, and it now goes to the voters.
New Haven registered nurse Maria Cristina said she came out to vote Tuesday morning in favor of school investments in mental health. Her daughter is a junior in high school.
"Especially after the pandemic, the mental health issues for our students is really important," Cristina said. "For all the programs to continue or add more programs for them. The school counselors and social workers, if we have more of that, that will be great."
— Sujata Srinivasan
Here are some races to watch across Connecticut:
In Bridgeport, two-term incumbent mayor Joe Ganim, who was sent to federal prison for corruption charges following his first stint as mayor in the ‘90s and early 2000s, narrowly won the city’s Democratic primary in September by 251 votes.
But the primary results were quickly contested in state court by John Gomes, Ganim’s challenger and former aide. Gomes filed a complaint after video emerged of a person making what appeared to be multiple early morning trips to stuff stacks of papers into a ballot drop box.
On Nov. 1, Superior Court Judge William Clark overturned the primary results and ordered a new election.
A Ganim victory on Tuesday would likely set the stage for another primary, according to lawyers for both Ganim and Gomes. But it remained unclear this week how the city's process for electing its mayor would unfold. State election officials have yet to comment on how they are interpreting the legal ruling. If Gomes wins in the general election, that could bring the litigation to a close, according to his attorney.
Gomes is listed as the Independent Party’s candidate for the November election. Ganim and Gomes will face Republican challenger David Herz and petitioning candidate Lamond Daniels.
In Derby, a man who faces federal charges for his alleged role in the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol is looking to become the city’s next mayor.
Gino DiGiovanni, Jr., an alderman, narrowly defeated incumbent Republican mayor Richard Dziekan during a September primary which was so close the race went to a recount.
While DiGiovanni has acknowledged being at the Capitol on Jan. 6, he’s denied any wrongdoing. He was photographed in the Capitol Rotunda. DiGiovanni was elected as an alderman 10 months after the attack.
The Republican nominee faces a challenge from Democrat Joe DiMartino, who previously ran for mayor in 2021. Dziekan is also on the ballot as a petitioning candidate, which has sparked concerns among the city’s Republican Town Committee, which endorsed DiGiovanni, that the GOP vote could be split.
Sharlene McEvoy, a retired law professor, is also running as a petitioning candidate.
The departure of Mayor Luke Bronin left an open seat in this heavily Democratic city with political newcomer Arunan Arulampalam winning the city’s Democratic primary in September.
Arulampalam, CEO of the Hartford Land Bank, will face a challenge in November from former state Sen. Eric Coleman, a retired Superior Court judge who is running as a write-in candidate.
The pair will face Republican challenger Mike McGarry, who served on the city council in the 1990s. Several people are listed as petitioning candidates on the ballot – Giselle Gigi Jacobs, Councilman Nick Lebron, J. Stan McCauley and Mark Stewart Greenstein.
Incumbent Mayor Justin Elicker will be seeking a third term on Election Day endorsed by both the Democratic Party and Working Families Party. Elicker will go up against two other candidates: Republican Tom Goldenberg and petitioning candidate Wendy Hamilton.
Elicker won the Democratic primary in September with over 70% of votes against challenger Liam Brennan, a legal aid attorney and former federal prosecutor. Elicker cites some of his accomplishments in office so far as addressing the COVID-19 pandemic, affordable housing and more.
But electing a new mayor won’t be the only thing voters will be asked to consider at the ballot box. New Haven residents will also vote to revise the city charter — aneffort that has been in the works since January and has raised debate among local officials.
The question will appear on the ballot as follows: “Shall the City approve and adopt all other Charter changes as recommended by the Charter Revision Commission and approved by the Board of Alders?”
The revision would increase the term length from two to four years for the mayor, alders and city clerk starting in 2027. Other changes would include increasing the annual stipend for alders from $2,000 to $5,000, updating language in the charter to gender-neutral language and more.
Proponents of the change for four-year terms say it would allow local elected officials to focus on governing rather than campaigning every other year, according to the New Haven Independent. If approved, New Haven would join Hartford and Stamford where all elected positions serve for a four-year period. Meanwhile, opponents disagree with the increase and say all the changes to the charter should not fall under one single question.
Tuesday’s West Haven Mayoral race pits Republican nominee and relative outsider Barry Cohen against Democrat Dorinda Borer.
Cohen defeated the party-endorsed candidate in September by leaning into his outsider status, refusing to seek the party’s endorsement and instead appealing to independent voters. This puts him in stark contrast to Borer, who represents West Haven in the State House of Representatives and was married to a former mayor of the city.
The mayoral seat they are vying for was vacated by Democrat Nancy Rossi, who is leaving office after a scandal in which a city official was convicted for stealing tens of thousands of dollars in COVID-19 relief funds.
This story will be updated. Connecticut Public’s Patrick Skahill, Frankie Graziano, Eddy Martinez, Eric Aasen, Abigail Brone, Cassandra Basler, John Henry Smith, Matt Dwyer, Kate Seltzer, Kay Perkins, Camila Vallejo, Maricarmen Cajahuaringa, Max Berryman, Sujata Srinivasan, Ashad Hajela, Bria Lloyd, Kate Seltzer and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Note: Arunan Arulampalam's father-in-law is Gregory B. Butler, who is a member of the Board of Trustees of Connecticut Public.