Voters out early at local polling places
Connecticut voters across the state head to the polls today to decide whether Democrat Gov. Dannel P. Malloy will continue to lead the state or whether it’s time for change and will elect Republican businessman Tom Foley.
At the John B. Stanton Elementary School in Norwich, a line of about a dozen people formed before the polls opened at 6 a.m.
Eva Jones was one of those early risers and she unabashedly said she voted straight Republican.
“The Malloy administration has been unfair to local businesses,” said Jones. “He’s too busy handing out money and not helping those who are creating jobs.”
Voters must also pick their candidate in the 2nd Congressional District and legislators for state government.
Andy Alexanderson said he voted for Foley.
“I just don’t think Connecticut is going in the right direction with Malloy,” said Alexanderson.
Harley Stiggle said he voted for the Democratic Party.
“Republicans are obstructionists, and we won’t get anything done with them in office,” Stiggle said. “Look at the president, they don’t give him credit for the good he does. No one is perfect but they don’t give him credit for anything.”
At the Groton City Municipal building, the turnout was steady.
By 7:05 a.m., there had been almost 100 voters in the District 3 polling site.
“That is almost more than what we had for the entire day in the Republican primary,” said Dave Coleman, voting moderator.
Jude Ebbinghaus, a retired school teacher, said she voted for Malloy.
“My pension is pretty good, but I’m concerned for my peers if the other guy is elected,” said Ebbinghaus. “I don’t trust his history.”
Ebbinghaus, however, said she voted for Republican John Scott in the race for the 40th state representative seat.
“I vote for the person, not the party,” she said. “I think he is wonderful, hardworking and will be great for Groton.”
KeAndra Robinson said she voted for Malloy. She said Foley’s stance on gun control was the deciding factor.
“I’m aware that Malloy has increased taxes, but I don’t think Foley would have done any differently if he were in the same position,” she said.
Shortly after 8:15 a.m., Heather Somers, the Republican candidate for lieutenant governor, accompanied by her husband, Mark, and 4-year-old-daughter, Grace, arrived at the Groton City Municipal building. Grace was holding a handmade, “Vote for Mommy” sign.
Somers greeted some supporters standing outside before entering the building.
By 8:30, she had voted.
Somers, a former Groton Town mayor, said she is optimistic that she and her running mate, Foley, will win.
“Dan Malloy had four years to help Connecticut,” said Somers. “We have the second worst economy in the nation. No job growth. We have high utility rates. This state is not business friendly. We are not career politicians. Give us a chance to turn this state around.”
Just before 7 a.m., New London City Councilor Michael Passero stood the requisite 75 feet from the polling place at Nathan Hale School, wearing a Whalers cap and holding a large campaign poster for Elissa Wright.
“I’m happily doing my service and doing what I can to support Elissa and Dan Malloy,” he said.
In contrast to past Election Days, when the grounds bordering the Nathan Hale parking lot were crowded with campaign workers and supporters, Passero was the only one. “It is strange,” he said. Maybe there aren’t a lot of voters out, he surmised, because there is not a City Council election this year.
New London resident Sara Bramlett said, entering the school, “I got up early to vote because I’m a hard-core Democrat, and I’m nervous. There are local issues, but I’m also worried about Republicans taking over the Senate. I’m not happy about their agenda and I’m doing what I can. I’m voting.”
At Waterford Town Hall, a steady stream of voters made their way to the ballots, many stopping at an expansive portable table festooned with all sorts of baked goods. The savories, tended by school moms Karen Bartelli, Kathy Newlin and Diane Miller, were on sale to help raise funds for the Waterford High School graduation party. Waterford first selectman Daniel Steward, talking with the women, recused himself from making any partisan comments. But in the context of the fundraiser, he did say, “If voters are eating baked goods, they’re probably at least happy.”
Resident Tony Vocalina said he always votes, but he was particularly driven this morning because of the economy.
“We have real problems. The job situation is particularly tough in southeastern Connecticut. As I heard one economist say, ‘We live in the Dead Zone.’ Having said that, I’m afraid I don’t think either gubernatorial candidate has a concrete plan in place,” he said.
When asked what particular food would best help a voter make a shrewd political choice, Bartelli said, “One of each.” And, in response to whether it was possible to determine a party preference by what breakfast item the voter wanted, the women agreed, “They all have discerning palates.”
There were a lot more campaign workers in evidence at New London’s Harbor School, where supporters of Andrew Lockwood, a candidate for state representative in the 39th district, seemed particularly abundant. One of them, Art Daniel, said of Lockwood’s opponent, incumbent Ernest Hewett, “He’s had 10 years and I just don’t see that he’s accomplished that much. He’s taken a lot of credit for positive things, but it’s also true that New London’s getting worse. Why should we expect anything different?”
Former New London City Councilor John Russell arrived to cast his ballot.
“I’m always going to vote, but, the way things have gone … the political system wasn’t meant to be this way. All the negativity is counterproductive. Everyone tears everyone else down and I don’t hear anyone discussing ideas. But I’m here and I’m voting.”
Betsy Ritter, Democratic candidate for State Senate in the 20th district, stopped by Harbor School and greeted citizens — the third in a full day of visits to polling places.
“It’s a warm, lovely day and that should help the turnout,” she said. As for whether she was tired, she said, “It’s been a long campaign, particularly with a primary. But it’s been fun and rewarding. I’ve knocked on a lot of doors and met a lot of people, and I prefer it that way. And, whether we’ve agreed or not, most people thank me for putting out the effort. That tells me that, for them, there’s something of value in the system.”
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