Correction, 1:53 p.m.: Vote percentages. Updated, 4:20 a.m.: Complete story
NORWALK, Conn. – Norwalk Democrats cruised to a resounding victory Tuesday, winning every top post in Norwalk government, save one Common Council seat – and a recount is expected on that sole survivor.
Mayor Harry Rilling won reelection with 56 percent of the vote, according to the Norwalk registrars office. Lisa Brinton Thomson, an unaffiliated activist, came in second with 22.4 percent of the vote while Republican Andy Conroy received 15.2 percent. State Rep. Bruce Morris (D-140) received 6.3 percent.
Video by Harold Cobin at end of story
Rilling won reelection two years ago with 63.3 percent of the vote. He won office in 2013 with 54.5 percent.
Results from the registrars office do not include absentee ballots.
When Rilling made his 10 p.m. acceptance speech, he believed that he had 55 percent of the vote.
“While that is a mandate let us not forget that 45 percent of the people voted against us,” Rilling said to Democrats gathered at the Hilton Garden Inn. “We need to attend to what their issues are and make sure that we listen to them, we hear them and we make sure that we take care of their concerns. Because they are a voting block in this community and with 45 percent of the people feeling like they had concerns, we need to pay attention.”
Rilling also made note that 14 Democratic Party-endorsed Council candidates had won, and all of the Democratic Party-endorsed Board of Education candidates.
“I am obviously disappointed we didn’t win it. I am incredibly pleased by how we did with the campaign,” Brinton Thomson said to NancyOnNorwalk, pointing out that it’s the first time since the 1970s that an independent candidate came in second, ahead of a major party candidate.
She had called Rilling to congratulate him, she said.
“I hope we sent a message to the mayor that a good number of Norwalk residents have some concerns and they need to be addressed,” she said. “There were seven of us and $25,000 and we took a quarter of the vote versus $150,000 and the entire Democratic Party in the state of Connecticut. We were the little engine that could, I guess.”
Morris was not available for comment.
Conroy campaign manager Rick Joslyn said Conroy was disappointed.
“Although he knew defeating the mayor was always going to be an uphill battle, the most unfortunate outcome is that Norwalk will not be able to benefit from the experience and dedication of our Republican Common Council and Board of Ed candidates,” Joslyn wrote in an email.
Council member Doug Hempstead, a veteran politician, came in second in the District D race to Democratic newcomer George Tsiranides, but only six votes ahead of Democrat William Pappa, according to the head moderator’s return as submitted to the state at 1 a.m.
There will be a recount, Assistant to the Mayor Laoise King said earlier in the evening.
Registrars’ results show that Tsiranides received 1,728 votes, including 148 Working Families Party votes; Hempstead received 1,705 votes and Pappa received 1,699 votes. Incumbent Republican Shannon O’Toole Giandurco received 1,530 votes. Again, these do not include absentee ballots.
District D is regarded as a Republican stronghold.
Falling short in bids for re-election were independent Council member Steve Serasis and Democratic Board of Education member Shirley Mosby, who ran on the Working Families Party line after the Democratic Town Committee did not endorse her.
Mosby, standing in the rain outside West Rocks Elementary School Tuesday afternoon, said she’d been there since 6 a.m., and that she was doing it for the children.
“I love them,” she said. “I would walk through fire for these kids.”
Results came in slow to the Democratic Election Night party, with the first indication of success being celebratory reactions from District A candidates Eloisa Melendez (an incumbent) and Chris Yerinides, who were peering into a smart phone for information.
Democrats then took note of a tally sheet from Fox Run Elementary School, showing that incumbent Council members John Igneri and Thomas Livingston had crushed Republican challengers Ernie DesRochers and Josh Jewett in what is regarded as another Republican stronghold.
Livingston later said everyone who was running was a good person, and it had been a good campaign.
“I have been honored to be representing the district for the last two years,” Livingston said. “I have worked hard for the district. I have gotten out and met people, and I have worked hard for it. I think it has paid off.”
Rilling, in speaking to the crowd, said he had been at West Rocks Middle School all day and the response from voters was overwhelming.
“They were so happy to cast their ballot for our team,” he said. “Our Council listens to the people.”
NancyOnNorwalk talked to some of those voters.
“I think he’s doing a fine job for Norwalk,” Pat Hungaski said, of Rilling.
“He does a lot for the community,” Diane Smilancsky said, calling Rilling a friend who is in the same boat club she’s in.
“We like what he does for the city of Norwalk and we’ve known him for many years,” said a woman who declined to be identified.
“I’m voting for that guy over there because he’s done a good job,” said a man.
“I don’t get a paper so I don’t know anything about anybody on the slate, so I just went straight across” the Democratic line, said Michael Fales, explaining that he thinks he’s registered as a Republican.
A woman who voted at Rowayton Elementary School said she voted for Brinton Thomson because, “Time for something new.”
Over at Marvin Elementary School, Amanda Seroff said she voted for Rilling.
“I know the guy. I kind of like what he’s been doing. I like that he’s been doing more than just being a mayor,” she said. “He’s does the weekly walks on the weekend. He’s looking at the town in a different perspective, besides in a car.”
She also said she voted for Mark Suda for Common Council at large, because, “He’s a real standup guy.”
Suda came in seventh in the contest, with 5,179 votes. Richard Bonenfant, an incumbent who has been on the Council for 14 of the last 20 years, was sixth with 5,239 votes.
Republican Charlie Yost, who has been a Third Taxing District Commissioner for six years, was unseated by Democrat Pam Parkington.
Conroy urged Republicans not to give up, according to Joslyn.
“It was a tough year, but this is only the beginning of the story for us. We hope these fine people will not give up and continue to look for ways they can help improve our city,” Joslyn said in an email. “Andy called to congratulate Mayor Rilling on running a clean and well-fought campaign. We also congratulate the winning Democrats on their victories, while hoping they realize they have the solemn responsibility of moving our city forward for another two years.”
Rilling told Democrats, “We have to make sure that we work together and we do what’s right, because when you have 14 Council members there’s no fingers to point any place folks. We have to do it. We have to listen. We have to make sure that we do what we are supposed to do, what we are elected to do.”
Lauricella was a long shot, referring to herself as the “hanging chad” on the ballot because she was on the bottom row as a petitioning candidate.
She appreciated Rilling’s comments, she said, expressing a commitment to bring issues to the Council’s attention.
“I met really interesting people, all across the city,” she said, after the results came in. “This was a great experience. I am sad that I didn’t win but I really wasn’t expecting to win. I just wanted to see how many votes I would be able to get my first time out, as an underdog, without a treasurer. You need those kind of things in order to do the steps. This voting tally really shows the power of the machine because of the fact that people still don’t split their votes out as much. I know what I needed to do to get more people to find my name and I came up short but there was quite a few good people that were elected. It was quite an interesting result.”
The results from the registrars office:
- Harry Rilling 8,103 (7,796 on the Democratic line and 307 Working Families Party)
- Lisa Brinton Thomson 3,238
- Andy Conroy 2,195
- Bruce Morris 914
- Joe Tamburri, D 7,767
- Jerry Petrini, R 5,067
- Robert Burgess, D 7,862
- James Anderson, R 4,794
- Rick McQuaid, D 8,244
- Rick McQuaid, R 4,545
Council at large
- Barbara Smyth, D 7,981 (7,171 as a Democrat, 810 Working Families Party)
- Nick Sacchinelli, D 7,821 (6,671 as a Democrat, 1,150 Working Families Party)
- Greg Burnett, D 7,750 (6824 as a Democrat, 726 Working Families Party)
- Doug Stern, D 7,332 (6,662 as a Democrat, 670 Working Families Party)
- Michael Corsello, D 6985
- Rich Bonenfant, R 5,239
- Mark Suda, R 5,179
- Bill Dunne, R 4,403
- Peter Halladay, R 3,973
- Enrique Santiago, R 3,833
- Diane Lauricella, petitioning candidate 1,359
- Sharon Stewart, WFP 1,127
Council District A
- Eloisa Melendez, D 1,504 (1,378 as a Democrat, 126 Working Families Party)
- Christopher Yerinides, D 1,453 (1,304 as a Democrat, 149 Working Families Party)
- Ellen Wink, R 634
- Fred Fusci, R 550
- Steve Serasis, petitioning candidate 136
Council District B
- Travis Simms, D 917
- Faye Bowman, D 806
- Hector Correa, R 373 (254 on the Republican line, 119 Working Families Party)
- Manny Langella, R 352 (261 on the Republican line, 91 Working Families Party)
Council District C
- John Kydes, D 2,066 (1,864 as a Democrat, 202 Working Families Party)
- Beth Siegelbaum, D 1,468
- Artie Kassimis, R 1,207
- Vincenzo Capozzoli, R 1,064
Council District D
- George Tsiranides, D 1,728 (1,665 as a Democrat, 202 Working Families Party)
- Doug Hempstead, R 1,705
- William Pappa, D 1,699 (1,537 as a Democrat, 162 Working Families Party)
- Shannon O’Toole Giandurco, R 1,530
Council District E
- Tom Livington, D 2,143 (2,018 as a Democrat, 125 Working Families Party)
- John Igneri, D 2,085
- Ernie DesRochers 1,096
- Josh Jewett 1,053
Board of Education
- Heidi Keyes, D 8,441 (7,595 as a Democrat, 846 Working Families Party)
- Barbara Meyer-Mitchell, D 7913 (7,114 as a Democrat, 799 Working Families Party)
- Sarah LeMieux, D 7,312 (6,600 as a Democrat, 712 Working Families Party)
- Bruce Kimmel, D 7,093
- Mark D’Amelio, R 4,557
- Thomas Donaher, R 4,216
- Thomas Cullen, R 3,977
- Shirley Mosby, WFP 2,007
- Andy Garfunkel, D 7,936
- Samuel Pride, D 6,617
- Jeffery Konspore, R 4,574
- Kathryn Martino, R 4,420
- Ernie Dumas, D 6,990
- Johnnie Mae Weldon, D 6410
- Jalin Sead, D 6,214
- Samuel Disraelly, D 6,130
- Fred Bondi, R 5,184
- John Romano, R 4,882
- Frank Mauro, R 4,816
- James Feigenbaum, R 4,197
First Taxing District Commissioner
- Tom Cullen, R 656
First Taxing District Treasurer
- Elsa Peterson Obuchowski, D 911
- Robert Mercurio, R 355
Second Taxing District Commissioner
- David Westmoreland, D 670
- Mary Geake, D 662
- Maria Borges-Lopez, R 215
Second Taxing District Treasurer
- Darlene Young, D 803
Third Taxing District Commissioner
- Pam Parkington, D 760
- Charlie Yost, R 519
Third Taxing District Treasurer
- Johnnie Mae Weldon, D 679
- Vincenzo Capozzoli, R 561
Sixth Taxing District Commissioner
- Mike Barbis, D 752
Sixth Taxing District Treasurer
- James Hendrickson, R 608
NORWALK, Conn. — Mayor Harry Rilling won reelection handily Tuesday – and his Democratic underticket nearly swept the city.
Rilling won with 55 percent of the vote, he said. Democrats took 14 of 15 Council seats, and all the Democratic Party-endorsed Board of Education candidates won election as well.
A recount is likely in District D, threatening the lone Republican Council victor, according to Assistant to the Mayor Loaise King. Incumbent Council member Doug Hempstead is narrowly ahead of Democratic newcomer William Pappa, and absentee ballots have not yet been counted, King said.
Results available at midnight show that unaffiliated candidate Lisa Brinton Thomson came in second in the mayoral race, ahead of Republican Andy Conroy.
Rilling took the podium just before 10 p.m. to announce the victory and offer caution – with 14 Council seats, Democrats will be held responsible for everything in the city, he said.
His first words were a promise to honor the wishes of the 45 percent of the electorate that didn’t vote for him. Those 45 percent of the voters feel there’s something wrong with what’s going on in Norwalk, and elected officials should keep that in mind, he said.
This story will be updated.