Passero wins mayor's race in New London

New London — Three-term Democratic council member Michael Passero defeated Republican challenger Bill Vogel in a rout Tuesday that also saw a full slate of Democrats seize power on the City Council.   

The mayoral race was not close.

Passero, a city firefighter and part-time labor attorney who handily defeated incumbent Mayor Daryl Justin Finizio in a primary in September, beat Vogel by a more than 2 to 1 ratio, 2,367 to 882 votes.

Passero addressed a raucous crowd of supporters during a victory speech at his campaign headquarters on Bank Street, thanking family, his campaign workers and fellow Democrats.

“This city has so much talent and now we’re all going to get to work and get the benefit of it together,” Passero said.

Passero promised better transparency, a professional staff running city departments and a less contentious relationship between the mayor and city council. The position of mayor is a four-year term that pays $86,000 annually.

“We’re going to throw the doors of City Hall open. The city of New London is about to explode, and it’s going to happen in the next four years,” Passero said.

Vogel, the chairman of the Republican Town Committee, gathered with fellow Republicans at the Copperwood Grill. He ran on the strength of a background in the U.S. Navy and career with Northeast Utilities.

With Republicans outnumbered by Democrats by nearly 7 to 1, Vogel said it was an uphill battle from the start.

“We did our best,” Vogel said. “It’s still an uphill battle for Republicans here.”

Vogel said the results were skewed by the fact that Passero did so well, carrying his entire ticket to victory.

With Passero and City Council president Wade Hyslop not seeking re-election, two spots were up for grabs on the seven-member City Council.

With the apparent defeat of incumbent Republican Martin Olsen by three votes, the entire council will be Democrats.

The close margin between Olsen and Efrain Dominguez triggered an automatic recount, according to Democratic Registrar of Voters William Giesing.

Newcomers include John D. Satti, Martha Marx and Don Venditto, who was the highest vote-getter of the night. Incumbent Democrats Dominguez, Anthony Nolan, Erica Richardson and Michael Tranchida were all returned to their seats.

Republican candidate Katherine Goulart said she would be disappointed with a one-party council because of a lack of diversity and ideals. Olsen congratulated Passero and gave credit to the Democrats for pulling off such a one-sided win.

"Republicans are outnumbered roughly 7 to 1 so to come within two votes is not too shabby," Olsen said of his apparent defeat.

Passero, 59, has said that if he won the mayoral seat, he will retire from the fire department, ending his 31-year career. He also expects to wind down his pending legal cases.

He was first elected to the City Council in 2009, and re-elected in 2011 and 2013. He served a single two-year term as council president when Finizio was first elected mayor in 2011.

Passero earned his law degree in 1992 from the University of Connecticut and also has a master's degree in English literature from Connecticut College, where he also earned his undergraduate degree.

g.smith@theday.com

Twitter: @SmittyDay

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