Tight races in region mean recounts ahead for some municipalities
Election night ended with the possibility of recounts in a handful of local towns. A recount is required in Connecticut if the vote difference between candidates is less than one-half of 1 percent or fewer than 20 votes, unless the losing candidate waives the recount.
Candidates waited anxiously Tuesday night for what they said was one of the latest announcements of election results in recent memory, and for some, the waiting is not over. Three races will require recounts and another has been affected by minority representation rules.
The races for Board of Selectmen, Board of Finance and Library Board of Trustees were within 20 votes and the losers did not waive the recount, said outgoing Town Clerk Patricia Crisanti.
The date for the recount has not been scheduled, but Crisanti said she believes it must be conducted by Nov. 13.
In the Board of Selectmen race, Republican challenger Ed Chmielewski beat Democratic incumbent Robyn McKenney by seven votes.
Chmielewski, McKenney and Robert Ross, a cross-endorsed candidate, ran for the two open seats. Ross, with 325 more votes than Chmielewski, is unaffected by the recount.
"The most important thing is that the will of the residents of Salem is fulfilled," said Chmielewski, who is also chairman of the Republican Town Committee. He said he supports the recounts but is not expecting any of the Republican winners to lose their seats.
Two Republicans and one Democrat competed for two seats on the Board of Finance, and according to Tuesday's numbers, the two Republicans received the highest number of votes. But Republican Greg Preston is ahead of Democrat Chris Bennett by 17 votes, placing that election within the mandatory recount margin.
The race for the Library Board of Trustees, in which four candidates competed for two seats, will also necessitate a recount. Republicans Susan Buck and Wendy Ortega were the top vote-getters, but Democrats Carol Traggis and Anne Rowthorn were both within 20 votes of Ortega.
Crisanti said one of the losers in the library trustees race was unsure as of Wednesday about whether she should waive the recount, but her decision is unlikely to have an effect since she is not the only candidate affected.
On Tuesday, it appeared that Republicans and top vote-getters Terri Salas and Ken Bondi were elected to the two open seats on the Zoning board of Appeals. On Wednesday, however, Crisanti said minority representation rules did not allow two Republicans to be elected to the board. Bondi was not elected, she said, and Democrat Kate Bellandese will sit on the board along with Salas.
The top seven vote-getters in the City Council election Tuesday are assured of their two-year terms, despite a preliminary report that there was to be a mandatory recount.
Democratic Registrar of Voters William Giesing believed late Tuesday night that the 22 votes separating the seventh- and eighth-place voter-getters would require a recount.
But Wednesday he said the numbers are not close enough because the 22-vote difference is more than the required one-half of 1 percent.
Republican Martin T. Olsen edged out Democrat Laura Natusch for the seventh seat on the council. Olsen received 1,327 votes to Natusch's 1,305, a 22-vote difference.
The political make-up of the council for the next two years will be six Democrats — Michael Passero, Efrain Dominguez, Michael Tranchida, Anthony Nolan, Erica Richardson and Wade Hyslop — and Olsen, the lone Republican.
Though Republican selectman candidate Brett Mastroianni finished just one vote shy of petitioning first selectman candidate Bob Testa, Registrar of Voters Marilyn Mackay said there will not be a recount.
Testa, who lost to incumbent First Selectman Nicholas H. Mullane II, secured a selectman seat after garnering the second-highest vote count — 702 — of the five candidates. Mastroianni, Mullane's running mate, received 701 votes.
Mackay said she spoke by phone with Peggy Reeves, assistant to the Secretary of the State for elections, legislative and intergovernmental affairs late Tuesday evening, and was told that a recount would not be necessary.
Longtime Board of Education member Sandra Berardy, a Democrat who was first elected in 1987, said Wednesday that she has waived a recount in her race.
Berardy was the only one of six Board of Education candidates not to be elected and was only 14 votes behind Republican Steven Loiler, which is lower than the 20-vote difference that triggers a recount.
"We've got new people on there, fresh blood, so it's fine," Berardy said. Newcomers Valerie Smith, a Democrat, and Kim Navetta, a Republican, were elected to the board.
The Board of Education race and the Representative Town Meeting District Two race could be recounted in the coming days, and the Zoning Board of Appeals will have one more member on it than initially thought on election night.
Board of Education candidate Lisa Marie Barry, a Republican, received 1,392 votes and Democrat Jessica McLaughlin received 1,378 votes. The 14-vote difference triggers a recount.
Waterford Town Clerk Bob Nye said the town contacted the Democrat Town Committee Chairman Bill Sheehan to find out whether the Democrat candidates want to waive the recount.
Nye said if they don't hear back by Thursday afternoon they would go ahead and plan for a recount on Wednesday, which is the last day to have the recount.
The candidates in question for the RTM district two race are Republican Michael J. Hannan with 325 votes and Democrat Atul R. Shah with 308 votes.
There was a change in which candidates won seats on the Zoning Board of Appeals. Tuesday night the town reported that Republican Barbara A. Panciera and Democrat Joshua A. Friedman won, but it turns out that Republican Francisco J. Ribas also won a seat because there was another vacancy.
The ballot should have read, "select three candidates for the Zoning Board of Appeals," Nye said. There was an error in the ballot, he said.
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