New London: Democrats take six seats in council election

City Councilor Anthony Nolan, center, celebrates as Bill Satti reads off the winners in the City Council race at New London Democratic headquarters Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2013.
City Councilor Anthony Nolan, center, celebrates as Bill Satti reads off the winners in the City Council race at New London Democratic headquarters Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2013. Sean D. Elliot/The Day

New London — Democrats nearly swept the City Council Tuesday when voters elected six Democrats to the seven-member City Council Tuesday, including three incumbents and three newcomers. Republicans managed to win only one seat.

Democrats also took six of the seven seats on the Board of Education.

But the Democratic registrar of voters said late Tuesday that it appears there will be an automatic recount for the council. There was only a 22-vote difference between the seventh and eighth seats.

The top vote-getter was Michael Passero, an attorney and city firefighter, who has served as council president for the past two years. He was elected to a third term with 1,838 votes. Elected to a fourth term was Wade Hyslop, a pastor and former state representative. Anthony Nolan, a city police officer who was elected to a second term.

Also elected were Erica Richardson, Michael Tranchida and Efrain Dominguez.

“It’s an honor. It humbles me,” said Dominguez, who was the highest voter-getter in his home district at New London High School. He received 1,620 votes overall, the second-highest number of votes.

“It’s so incredible the support from all of New London,” he said after the winners were announced at Democratic headquarters on Bank Street. “I felt they were ready to see new faces.”

The new council, which will be sworn in Dec. 2, will include four minorities and one woman.

Martin Olsen, who served on the council two separate times and ran unsuccessfully for mayor in 2011, was the only Republican elected, winning the seventh seat with 1,327 votes.

Laura Natusch was the only Democrat not elected. She received 1,305 votes.

“I’m very happy about the results of this election,” she said, graciously accepting defeat. “This is going to be an outstanding council.”

In the city where Democrats outnumber Republicans 6 to 1, the outcome of the election was not a surprise. Republicans have not had a majority on the council in more than 20 years.

But William Vogel, chairman of the Republican Town Committee, who also was a council candidate, said he would have expected better for Republicans because there is dissatisfaction with Democratic Mayor Daryl Justin Finizio.

“The real problem is the registration in the city is overwhelmingly Democratic, and it makes it hard to win,” Vogel said. “So many people just vote Democratic and clearly ... there should have been some Republicans in the mix.”

Incumbent Democrat Marie Friess-McSparran, who ran with the Republicans, was not re-elected to a second term. She received 789 votes.

About 20 percent of the city’s 14,245 registered voters cast ballots in the lowest turnout for a municipal election anyone could remember. In 2011, a year that included a five-way race for the first elected mayor in 90 years, about 40 percent of the electorate turned out to vote. In 2009, the last election that featured City Council candidates only, the turnout was about 27 percent.

But despite the low turnout, Democrats saw the election as a sign that residents are looking for unity.

“Tonight’s result is an amazing victory for New London,” Finizio said. “Most importantly, I truly believe, with a strong Democratic majority on the council, and a strong Democratic majority on the Board of Education, we have a team in place to move this city forward.”

k.edgecomb@theday.com

New London Green Party school board candidate Mirna Martinez casts her ballot at New London High School just after 6:00 a.m. for Tuesday's election in New London Nov. 5, 2013.
New London Green Party school board candidate Mirna Martinez casts her ballot at New London High School just after 6:00 a.m. for Tuesday's election in New London Nov. 5, 2013. Tim Cook/The Day
Jeannine Barber holds her seven-month-old daughter Azalea while voting at Nathan Hale School in New London to vote Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2013.
Jeannine Barber holds her seven-month-old daughter Azalea while voting at Nathan Hale School in New London to vote Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2013. Sean D. Elliot/The Day
New London School Board Green Party candidate Mirna Martinez, center, checks in to get her ballot while petitioning City Council candidate Carl Lee, right, waits in line as polls open at 6:00 a.m. at New London High School for Tuesday's election in New London Nov. 5, 2013.
New London School Board Green Party candidate Mirna Martinez, center, checks in to get her ballot while petitioning City Council candidate Carl Lee, right, waits in line as polls open at 6:00 a.m. at New London High School for Tuesday's election in New London Nov. 5, 2013. Tim Cook/The Day
A  voter arrives at the Precinct 2 polls at Kelly Middle School in Norwich Tuesday, November 5, 2013.
A voter arrives at the Precinct 2 polls at Kelly Middle School in Norwich Tuesday, November 5, 2013. Sean D. Elliot/The Day
Bob Stuller, husband of New London City Council candidate Ronna Stuller posts campaign signs outside of the Nathan Hale Magnet Elementary School for Performing & Visual Arts in New London as polls open at 6:00 a.m. for Tuesday's election in New London Nov. 5, 2013.
Bob Stuller, husband of New London City Council candidate Ronna Stuller posts campaign signs outside of the Nathan Hale Magnet Elementary School for Performing & Visual Arts in New London as polls open at 6:00 a.m. for Tuesday's election in New London Nov. 5, 2013. Tim Cook/The Day
Precinct 2 Moderator John Aronica announces the opening of the polls to the four voters waiting at the polls at Kelly Middle School in Norwich Tuesday, November 5, 2013. At right is greeter Ann Olson.
Precinct 2 Moderator John Aronica announces the opening of the polls to the four voters waiting at the polls at Kelly Middle School in Norwich Tuesday, November 5, 2013. At right is greeter Ann Olson. Sean D. Elliot/The Day
Election moderator Gwen Basilica, center, swears in the election workers at New London High School at 5:45 a.m., 15 minutes before polls open for Tuesday's election in New London Nov. 5, 2013.
Election moderator Gwen Basilica, center, swears in the election workers at New London High School at 5:45 a.m., 15 minutes before polls open for Tuesday's election in New London Nov. 5, 2013. Tim Cook/The Day
Owen Phelan, 9, right, and his brothers Cole Phelan, 7, left, and Reese Phelan, 5, center, huddle together while they discuss who was the
Owen Phelan, 9, right, and his brothers Cole Phelan, 7, left, and Reese Phelan, 5, center, huddle together while they discuss who was the "coolest" president while their mother, Kerry Phelan, fills out her ballot at the Pawcatuck Firehouse polling station in Stonington Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2013. Dana Jensen/The Day

Voters OK 2012-13 budget

Voters approved the 2012-13 budget Tuesday, despite the fact that all the taxes for the $81 million spending plan, which ended June 30, have been collected and all the money has been spent. The vote was 1,534 to 1,029.

Voters also approved setting the tax rate at 26.6 mills, 1,264 to 1,222.

On Monday, the finance office announced that a preliminary, unaudited review of the 2012-13 budget showed a $220,000 surplus.

Tuesday’s vote was the third time residents were asked to approve the city’s spending plan. The budget failed at two referendums, and the third petition for a referendum came so far into the fiscal year that the city attorney and the finance director said the outcome would be moot.

Revenues in the budget, which covered July 1, 2012, to June 30, 2013, were down by about $1 million, but it also included a $490,000 surplus in the $39.8 million education budget and a more than $300,000 surplus in the $41 million general government budget.

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