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Bumgardner defeats Hedrick by five votes in Groton City mayoral primary

Groton — Town Councilor Aundré Bumgardner edged incumbent city Mayor Keith Hedrick by five votes, 335-330, in Monday's Democratic mayoral primary, triggering a recount. 

In-person voter turnout was 29% among the city's 1,851 Democratic voters eligible to vote in the primary, according to Registrar of Voters Kristen Venditti. Overall turnout including absentee ballots was about 36%.

A recount will take place at 5 p.m. Friday, she said.

"I am honored by the support for my campaign shown in today's vote and trust that our city election system will declare the final vote tally fairly," said Bumgardner. "I commend Mayor Hedrick on an energetic campaign that explored many issues critical to our city's future. Whatever the outcome of the recount is, I look forward to continuing to work for the betterment of every resident of Groton City."

Bumgardner, 26, ran on a platform of responding to the COVID-19 pandemic and helping people get vaccinated, expanding programs for youths and addressing climate change. He pledged that the city would be using 100% renewable energy by 2030.

Hedrick said Monday night he was not conceding because there will be a recount and some of the absentee ballots may be challenged.

"I'm disappointed in the initial count," he said. "We knew this was going to be a hard-fought election and that in the end the voters will have spoken and we will abide by the results."

During his campaign, Hedrick, who is running for a third term as mayor, named the city's response to the COVID-19 pandemic and vaccination efforts, as well as economic development and the revival of Thames Street, and preparing for the growth at Electric Boat and associated parking demands as his top priorities.

In addition to the Town Council, Bumgardner serves on the city's Planning and Zoning Commission and most recently worked for the state treasurer. In 2014, running as a Republican, he was elected as the youngest representative ever to the General Assembly and served as state representative for the 41st House District from 2015 to 2017.

Hedrick, 61, who also is the chairman of the City of Groton Democratic Committee and served two years as deputy mayor before becoming mayor, worked as an operations manager at URS/AECOM and served in the U.S. Navy.

Hedrick ran on his experience and record in the city, while Bumgardner said he would "lead Groton into a new era of progress and prosperity."

The Democratic candidate will not face a Republican opponent in the May 3 general election, as Republicans have not endorsed a slate of candidates.

On Monday, voter Tiffany Crawford said she voted for Bumgardner because she liked that he split with the Republican Party and switched to the Democratic party over former President Trump's controversial comments following a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va., in 2017.

She also liked that Bumgardner was very hands-on and went door to door to talk to voters. While she typically does not vote in small, local races, she said because he was so hands-on she wanted to show up and vote for him.

Voter Gary Trahan said he got to know Hedrick by serving on the Police and Community Together (PACT) group. He said there wasn't any one specific issue that drove his vote and said "overall, he's a great mayor."

"I know he's a good mayor and he's done a lot and he's involved in a lot," he said.

k.drelich@theday.com

Editor's Note: This version clarifies that in-person voter turnour was 29% and adds an update that overall voter turnout, including absentee ballots, was about 36%.

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