Election Night had interesting contrasts

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Mayor Richard Moccia reaches out to shake the hand of a Norwalk voter Tuesday.

NORWALK, Conn. – Here are some items of interest that were seen or heard on Election Day in Norwalk:

• There was plenty of excitement in the room Tuesday night as election results came in at the Hilton Garden Inn, the Democratic Party hangout for the evening. Democrat John Kydes, in his first-ever run, picked up what essentially was his Republican cousin Nick’s former Common Council seat in District C. Kydes outpolled Republican Michelle Maggio, an incumbent who was re-elected, by 223 votes. Republican Sarah Mann, an appointed incumbent at-large candidate trying to make the transition to District C, was 535 votes shy of Kydes and 99 back of Democrat Kevin Poruban.

•  Adding to the excitement were the totals posted before the absentee ballots were counted that showed Democratic at-large council incumbent Warren Peña just three votes behind Bruce Kimmel, the Democrat from District D who shunned his party shortly after being elected in 2011 and caucused with the Republicans. Kimmel had no Democratic Town Committee support for a run this year, and was roundly embraced by the Republican Town Committee as one of its own – except for the “D” beside his name. When the Republican-heavy absentee ballots were counted, however, Kimmel had moved into fourth place in the five-seat race with 7,465 votes, a gain of 467, while Peña picked up 290 for a final tally of 7,285.

• The at-large council race held a few surprises beyond the Kimmel-Peña drama. One was the number of blanks – 11,868, giving “blank” more votes than any of the candidates. Doug Hempstead was the top vote-getter with 7,806, which was no surprise. But Democrat Olivia Dardy, a popular Norwalk star athlete who had gotten a positive reaction around the city in the election run-up, fell short, placing seventh with a still-respectable 7,183 votes.

Republican Town Clerk Rick McQuaid, who ran unopposed, drew more votes than anyone with 9,972 votes. There were 6,759 blanks.

• Norwalk Economic Opportunity Now (NEON) interim CEO and President Chiquita Stephenson wandered into the post-win celebration for Harry Rilling, sending up whispers in some corners of the room. She did not stay long. Less than 12 hours later, she was placed on unpaid leave of absence from her $135,000 a year job.

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Norwalk Zoning Commissioner Emily Wilson waits for voters Tuesday at Brookside Elementary School. Wilson got 1,716 votes in her unsuccessful quest to represent District E on the Common Council.

• NancyOnNorwalk encountered Mayor Richard Moccia at Fox Run Elementary School polls Tuesday evening, where there was a nip in the air as night had fallen.

“How’s it going?” The mayor was asked.

“Going great,” Moccia said. “Turnout’s good. Reception’s good. Doing fine. Going to win this election.”

• Three Fox Run voters offered their perspective on the election as they exited the polls.

One man said he had voted “pretty much straight across the board Democrat,” which was unusual for him, he said.

“I consider myself an independent,” he said. “I’ve become much more polarized as the Republican Party has become more polarized.”

A woman who said she had voted for Moccia in the previous four elections said she had done it again.

“I think in these times he’s done a very good job,” she said. “I think as well as could be expected with the economy. He kept things even, he didn’t let things deteriorate in town. The Board of Ed needs work but I think it could have been worse, with the change in the superintendent and all. Hopefully this guy is going to get it back on track. He seems like a go-getter. So I think he’s done good things for Norwalk as a whole.”

Another voter said he had voted for “Numbers of people. Some Democrats some Republicans. Moccia for mayor. He did a good job. I don’t see anything wrong.”

He said he was skeptical of a challenger.

“A new candidate would say that he didn’t do this, he didn’t do that – how do you know when he comes to the (office)? What is he going to do? There’s no guarantee and situations are not that good, I mean, economies are off all over the country. They are doing their job and we should appreciate them. We have to give them a chance. I don’t know what is going to happen next four years but we wish good luck for the city.”

•  The Republican get-together at the Norwalk Inn was not as somber as you might think, except for those close to Moccia. An early indication of how things were going came when Moccia walked in and made a face when asked for an opinion.  Most people seemed relatively upbeat, though not in a big party mood. One person whispered that the party was surprised that Moccia had decided to run again.

After the mayor made his concession speech, Carol Frank said she was good, although things hadn’t turned out the way she wanted. Fred Bondi said, “I’m really surprised.”

Bondi was in the lobby at that point. State Rep. Gail Lavielle (R-Norwalk/Wilton) hurried by minutes later on her way to the ballroom, a grim expression on her face.

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State Rep. Larry Cafero (R-Norwalk) chats with Democratic council candidate Kate Tepper Tuesday at Fox Run Elementary School.


2 responses to “Election Night had interesting contrasts”

  1. Daisy

    can’t imagine why a GOP party would be surprised Moccia would run again. He’d been doing a good job, isn’t exactly over the hill, they loved him (and from the sound of some of the polls I’ve read, lots of people loved him but didn’t bother to vote, so hopefully their consciences will bother them before their wallets start to)

  2. Oldtimer

    The election was his to lose. He was over confident and underestimated Harry Rilling. A lot of republicans lost this time around and the pundits will be talking about why for a long time. Some blame the republicans for the federal government shutdown and that may have carried over to local elections. In my opinion, Harry ran a better campaign, and it worked. Moccia will really miss the ribbon cuttings and the other celebrations a mayor is invited to. He was showing signs of getting tired of the work involved in running a city. We hope he eases into a comfortable retirement someplace where he won’t have to worry about getting snow plowed or potholes fixed.

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