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McMurrer and Fairbairn give Kydes a jolt – recount will determine primary winners

Common Council member John Kydes (D-District C) chats outside the polls, Tuesday at Marvin Elementary School.

The 2021 Election is Nov. 2. The results of Tuesday’s District C Democratic primary will be recounted.

NORWALK, Conn. — Nine months ago, John Kydes was thinking maybe he’d run for Mayor this year. Now he may not even get onto the ballot as a Common Council candidate.

Kydes, who was first elected to the Council in 2013, tied for second place Tuesday in a Democratic primary forced by two newcomers unhappy with the way things went during the budget cycle this spring. Only two people can win the contest to be Democratic Council candidates for District C.

Jenn McMurrer came in first, by a wide margin. Her running mate, Tyler Fairbairn, tied with Kydes. Jennifer McAllister, who like Kydes was endorsed by the Democratic Town Committee, came in fourth.

All the candidates are subject to a recount. The two winners will face Republican candidate Read Auerbach and Independent candidate Scott Goodwin in the fall election. McMurrer and Fairbairn will be on the ballot no matter what as they have won Working Families Party endorsements.

The primary results, according to Norwalk Democratic Registrar Stuart Wells, are:

  • McMurrer 208
  • Kydes 188
  • Fairbairn 188
  • McAllister 175

 

Those are “tape results,” the count produced by a machine. A hard count is coming. All candidates are subject to the recount.

The 392 ballots cast – 11 by absentee ballot – were more than expected by election officials.

“I am honestly surprised,” Robert Sodaro said mid-afternoon at Nathan Hale Middle School. Sodaro and others reported that Wells had estimated 200 voters would come out. “By the way the day started out and what I heard from, you know, talk around the office, I didn’t expect a lot of people coming out, because it wasn’t really publicized,” Sodaro said.

“I think it’s amazing considering it’s such a small, little primary,” said Laura Smits, Nathan Hale moderator.

District C has 4,347 Democrats on the official checklist for the election, Wells said.

Jenn McMurrer sits outside the Marvin Elementary poll Tuesday afternoon.

If McMurrer’s status as the frontrunner holds or if she comes in second, the 392 voters will have overturned a decision made by 11 DTC members.

Some Republicans, notably Bryan Meek and Drew Todd, had charged the primary would be a waste of money, unlikely to change anything.

Kydes has served as Council president and majority leader, and has been Planning Committee chairman for nearly six years. In December, he surprised Democratic incumbent Mayor Harry Rilling by forming an exploratory committee for Mayor. In April, he converted that committee into a Mayoral campaign for 2023, while simultaneously running for reelection to the Council.

Much of Kydes support is Republican: Of the 52 Norwalk residents who donated to his Mayoral campaign, only 13 were registered Democrat, according to information supplied by Wells.

It was a Democratic primary and only Democrats could vote.

A more complete accounting of votes:

Marvin Elementary

  • McMurrer 130
  • Fairbairn 110
  • McAllister 88
  • Kydes 85

 

Nathan Hale

  • Kydes 96
  • McAllister 85
  • Fairbairn 73
  • McMurrer 72

 

Absentee

  • Kydes 7
  • Fairbairn 5
  • McMurrer 5
  • McAllister 2

 

Wells did not say when a recount would occur. McMurrer, standing outside the polls Tuesday afternoon, said she’d been told a recount would happen Monday.

Has there ever been a tie in a primary before?

“Yes, there was one 20 or 25 years ago in (I think) the First Taxing District that was resolved by a coin toss but I don’t remember what the contested office was, i.e. Treasurer or Commissioner, etc.,” former Mayor Alex Knopp said.

Kydes and McAllister did not reply to an email asking for a response to the vote.

“I could not be more excited for Jenn. There is no one running for office this year that has worked or will work harder than she has,” Fairbairn said. “That we’re within the recount number is unsurprising, and I look forward to hearing the results.”

“I am so grateful for all the people who came out to support us! This was the reason we wanted to primary to open it up to more people,” McMurrer said in an email. “How lucky are we in district C to have so many people who want to serve. East Norwalk won tonight!”

Updated at 3:30 a.m. with final story.

Original story:

McMurrer tops primary, Kydes and Fairbairn tie for second

Jenn McMurrer sits outside the Marvin Elementary poll Tuesday afternoon.

The 2021 Election is Nov. 2. The results of Tuesday’s District C Democratic primary will be recounted.

NORWALK, Conn. — It’s not over in District C, where a recount will be needed to determine whether incumbent John Kydes will retain his Democratic endorsement for a Common Council candidacy.

Kydes and challenger Tyler Fairbairn have tied for second place in the primary.

Jenn McMurrer came in first, by a wide margin. Jennifer McAllister, Kydes’ chosen running mate, was fourth. There will be a recount for all candidates.

The results, according to Norwalk Democratic Registrar Stuart Wells, are:

  • McMurrer 208
  • Kydes 188
  • Fairbairn 188
  • McAllister 175

 

Those are “tape results,” the count produced by a machine. A hard count is coming.

Common Council member John Kydes (D-District C) chats outside the polls, Tuesday at Marvin Elementary School.

Kydes, who is seeking a fifth 2-year term on the Council, and McAllister were endorsed by the Democratic Town Committee in July. McMurrer and Fairbairn obtained enough signatures to force a primary, which some Republicans, notably Bryan Meek and Drew Todd, charged would be a waste of money, unlikely to change anything.

Wells did not say when a recount would occur.

“I am so grateful for all the people who came out to support us! This was the reason we wanted to primary to open it up to more people,” McMurrer said in an email. “How lucky are we in district C to have so many people who want to serve. East Norwalk won tonight!”

“I could not be more excited for Jenn. There is no one running for office this year that has worked or will work harder than she has,” Fairbairn said. “That we’re within the recount number is unsurprising, and I look forward to hearing the results.”

McMurrer and Fairbairn have won Working Families Party endorsements, so they will be on the ballot no matter what.

16 comments

Joe Oliveri September 14, 2021 at 9:50 pm

So few people vote in a primary it looks like. Only 19 votes between first and second place is nothing. How many people could of voted in this election I wonder?

Justin Matley September 14, 2021 at 10:41 pm

Joe: it’s a single district Democratic primary, so it’s only registered Democrats in the East Norwalk neighborhood.

Bobby Lamb September 14, 2021 at 11:11 pm

well – whatever the outcome of the recount at least this puts to bed any notion of Kydes running for mayor. He can’t even carry his own district. The people have spoken or maybe more aptly – decided not to speak – your “supporters” not showing up speaks volumes.

Joe Oliveri September 15, 2021 at 7:33 am

I am an unaffiliated voter like the majority of voters so I could not vote in this election but it looks like Parents got rallied from this candidates position as PTA President at Marvin. Votes went completely the other direction at Nathan Hale. It’s unfortunate that more people don’t come out and vote and that this primary only got one-sided coverage here. Important things like this need to be better publicized but I guess that’s the world we live in now.

Brian McGovern September 15, 2021 at 7:49 am

If you want proof your vote matters, this is it. I meant to vote yesterday, but I didn’t know where to go and couldn’t find location information when I looked (briefly) online.

For the record, I’ve lived in my neighborhood for over a decade, and Kydes has never bothered to reach out and connect with this constituent.

Bryan Meek September 15, 2021 at 9:22 am

@Justin. The district is bound on the North by Murray Street, so it is not just East Norwalk. It cost taxpayers over $100 per vote to continue the rubber stamping. There are over 4000 registered Democrats in C. This is a 5% turnout. They usually like to have these things in August when no one is around to vote, so I guess it could have been worse.

Justin Matley September 15, 2021 at 10:37 am

Kydes lost, probably in this order, because:

A) it was a Democratic primary, and much of his support is Republican

B) people were turned disaffected by his transparent political showmanship and posturing for future ambitions

C) newer parents are becoming informed by issues that directly affect their kids, and would rather not bail the city after under a decade of residing here

People may qualify Jenn (and Tyler) of being hyper progressive, but that’s untrue. They may have a different priority order, but more than anything they’ll listen to all parties and use their own sense of judgement rationally. They’re not angling for higher office in their decision-making.

Real Winner is BOE September 15, 2021 at 10:50 am

It’s unfortunate when 4,347 can vote and only 392 show up, but that sadly is likely higher turnout then in times past (9%). With that in mind, I’d hardly say 20 votes is a “wide margin”.

There is clearly something here…McMurrer/Fairbairn came 1/2 at Marvin but got 3/4 at Nathan Hale. I wouldn’t be surprised if this was a rally / false narrative with parents; but hey whatever it takes to win when margins are so slim.

This is the dirty side of politics. John has roots in Norwalk and has done more for the schools and his District in his time. This all happens this one cycle when he stands up to the BOE and declares interest in running for Mayor? The smear campaign too?

If John loses, the real winner here is the BOE. The get two hand-picked candidates. Time will tell if McMurrer/Fairbairn have a backbone when hands are extended and checks have to be approved.

Sarah McIntee September 15, 2021 at 1:11 pm

I’m thrilled to see that actions have consequences. Kydes promotes himself in a manner that is vastly different than reality. He suggests he has been engaged in year after year of school budget increases, when in reality last year he was solely responsible for shaving off another million dollars from the BOE’s budget so he could have an election talking point for when he runs for mayor. Jenn (and hopefully Tyler ) will be a great change for Norwalk bringing in a vastly different viewpoint to the council.

Justin Matley September 15, 2021 at 1:46 pm

@RealWinner: 659 showed up, but the point stands. Wasn’t an enormous turnout. But Jenn made the effort, showed her face, listened to constituents and made them feel heard, and had enough engagement from her community work to get enough to the polls for her side. John didn’t do enough to get his folks. Showing up is what it takes to win, and frankly, the kind of candidate I want in an office.

piberman September 15, 2021 at 3:21 pm

Maybe folks are just “too busy” to vote. Or like things the way they are. Or planning to move.
Once upon a time most everyone read the local newspaper and it was filled up with politics.
Now the Hour’s readership is down to just 15,000. Nancy’s is coming on strong. But our City is still transitory and the older folks who tend to focus on local governance are moving to lower cost environs. Looks like low voter turnout and ever more renters who are reluctant to vote is our future. Sad. Once upon a time everyone interested in City affairs knew just about everyone else similarly interested. And the best part was that our kids chose to live here as adults.

Elsa Peterson Obuchowski September 15, 2021 at 10:32 pm

To the comment that “They usually like to have these things in August”: unless I’m mistaken, municipal primaries are in September, usually the Tuesday of the week following Labor Day (not the day after Labor Day). These are held in odd-numbered years, when we elect our municipal officers.
August primaries are held in even-numbered years and the candidates may be for U.S. House or Senate, state senate or representative, or other state/federal offices. For example, in August 2010 we had a Republican primary for CT Governor.
https://www.ourcampaigns.com/RaceDetail.html?RaceID=337058

Yes, it's worth it! September 15, 2021 at 10:38 pm

Well, what do you know? People voted for a change.

Also,lesson learned: political lawn signs are not an indicator of votes. You can have a thousand lawn signs out there, but if they’re not on the lawns of people who have the ability and interest in voting for you, they’re not worth the plastic they’re printed on.

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