NORWALK, Conn. — Some notes about the election:
- Nine women on the Common Council – wow!
- Brinton vows to continue
- Comparing vote counts in city-wide races
- WFP calls results a mandate
National news stories tout breakthroughs for women in Tuesday’s election, such as Michelle Wu becoming the first woman and person of color elected to be Boston’s Mayor.
Well, Norwalk has its own breakthrough – a Common Council that is majority female. Out of 15 Council members, nine will be female when the winners are sworn in.
Norwalk Democratic Town Committee Chairwoman Eloisa Melendez took note of this Wednesday in a Facebook post, quoting the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg as saying there would be “enough” women on the Supreme Court “When there are nine.” Meaning, if all of the justices were female, that would be “enough.”
“Norwalk’s NINE women are now the majority on the Norwalk Common Council!!!! These amazing women and the great men who were honored to be on such a historic slate with them are ready to get to work (some back to work) for our beautiful CITY,” Melendez wrote.
It didn’t have to be, as the Republican slate for Council was entirely male. But after the Democratic near-sweep Tuesday, incumbent Democratic female Council members Barbara Smyth, Dominique Johnson, Darlene Young, Diana Révolus and Lisa Shanahan are set to be joined by Nora Niedzielski-Eichner, Nicol Ayers, Jenn McMurrer and Heidi Alterman.
In addition, Johnson is an incumbent but she was appointed to the Council in early 2019, after Colin Hosten was appointed to fill Bruce Kimmel’s seat on the Board of Education. Her success Tuesday marks the first time an open female LGBTQ candidate won election, Melendez said.
The female wave has also hit the Board of Education, which has gone from having five female members to having six. That was a foregone conclusion, though, as all the BoE candidates were women.
Brinton releases statement, cites ‘polarization’
Some people would rather not vote for anyone than vote for an independent, Lisa Brinton said, vowing to continue trying.
Brinton founded Independents for Norwalk in June, promising an “array of independent-minded candidates focused on Norwalk—not the current more hard-lined, two party system—for the expressed purpose of focusing on Norwalk residents, its neighborhoods and city services.”
All but one of Brinton’s candidates failed to win elected office Tuesday. The sole winner, Andy Meyerson, will serve as a Sixth Taxing District Commissioner. Brinton herself fell well short of becoming a Common Council member, coming in last among a field of nine.
What does Brinton say? She wrote:
“Norwalk remains a 24/25 city for major offices. Turnout much lower than 2019, when I ran for mayor on the R line (~14,000 vs 16,000 votes.) Loyalty to party remains more important than Norwalk.
Good news/bad news. First, thank you to our supporters!!! We secured enough votes to establish the Independent Party in Norwalk & Andy Meyerson is our Independent 6TD Commissioner!
“The bad news: our 14 candidates, including myself came up short. There’s been another Dem sweep, with data suggesting Dems & Republicans stayed with their own. Despite not having a full slate of candidates, or any BOE candidates, Republicans did NOT vote Independent. We lost to BLANK ballots. 🤣 That’s right. Rs preferred to NOT VOTE & let the Rilling Administration win down ticket than vote Independent.
“My failure to move Rs to the center, as Dems move further left, highlights the growing polarization of our city & country. Compromise may just be a 4-letter word.
“Still, Rome wasn’t built in a day. We may have to chip away at Blue dog Dems, if Rs would rather lose than compromise. Expect more fortress apartments, tax credits & overcrowded streets & classrooms.
“I’ll analyze the voter data & report back, but after 9 months of paperwork & campaigning, I’m headed for a break! However, Congrats Andrew Meyerson & thank you Rowayton for ‘getting’ what we’re trying to do. “We have 2 years to figure it out!!”
There were 15,000 blanks in yesterday’s Council at Large race, according to Norwalk Democratic Registrar Stuart Wells. NancyOnNorwalk’s records don’t show blank info for 2019 or 2017, but in 2015, out of 13,449 ballots cast there were 7,739 blanks in the Council at Large tally.
The Board of Education race saw 13,712 blanks Tuesday, Wells’ spreadsheet shows.
Adding up the figures in the spreadsheet provided by Wells shows 14,686 total ballots were cast Tuesday. If you’re thinking there were more blanks than ballots, remember, voters could mark off slots for up to five Council at large candidates, of which there were nine.
Wells explained Friday, “A ‘blank’ represents an unused vote. If you vote for four candidates in a race, like Common Council At Large, where you can vote for up to five candidates, the unused vote is counted by the tabulator as one ‘blank.’”
He said, “So, assume approximately 8,000 Dem votes all used all their CC at large votes. – no blanks so far. Then assume 5,000 Rep votes all voted for the 3 Rep CC at large candidates, leaving 2 votes each unused. That would be 10,000 blanks. And assume that the remaining 1,000 Independent voters only voted for Ms Brinton, leaving 4 votes each unused. That would be 4,000 more blanks.”
It’s the same issue with the Board of Education candidates and in addition, they were on the other side of the ballot.
Wells hasn’t confirmed the 14,686 total ballots nor said how many ballots were cast in 2019.
NancyOnNorwalk’s records show 15,829 votes cast in the 2019 Mayor’s race. Tuesday’s Mayoral race had 14,629 votes cast.
Brinton said, “We effectively lost to the ‘Blank Party.’”
Let’s look at numbers
There may have been less ballots cast Tuesday than in 2019, but one Council member got more votes this year than he did in the previous municipal election.
- Greg Burnett in 2019: 7,921
- Greg Burnett in 2021: 8,217
The only other Council member to run city-wide again was Barbara Smyth.
- Barbara Smyth in 2019: 9,578
- Barbara Smyth in 2021: 7,725
Republican Council candidate Rich Bonenfant ran city-wide in 2019 and again Tuesday.
- Rich Bonenfant in 2019: 6,874
- Rich Bonenfant in 2021: 5,970
Brinton’s Independent BoE candidates got more votes in city-wide races than she did.
- Jody Sattler 4,212
- Alex Kemeny 4,190
- Katherine (Price) Snedaker 3,982
- Shirley Mosby 3,815
- Lisa Brinton 3,698
As a Republican-endorsed Mayoral candidate in 2019, Brinton got 7,031 votes, 1,879 more than Republican Mayoral candidate Jonathan Riddle did Tuesday. In 2017, as an unaffiliated Mayoral candidate in a four-way race, Brinton got 3,238 votes.
Working Families Party toots horn
Sarah Ganong, Campaigns Director for the Connecticut Working Families Party (WFP), released this statement regarding Norwalk’s municipal election results:
“For the past few years, Norwalk has made a commitment to inclusive growth and expanded opportunity. They have made investments in education, worked to expand access to affordable housing, and smart growth, focused on racial equity.
“Today voters resoundingly supported these commitments. With their election victory today, WFP-endorsed candidates Sheri McCready Brown, Josh Goldstein, Greg Burnett, Sr, Tom Livingston, Dominique E. Johnson, Lisa Shanahan, David B. Heuvelman, Barbara Smyth, Nora Niedzielski-Eichner, Janine W. Randolph, Colin Hosten, Diana Révolus, Kara Baekey, Darlene Young, Heidi Alterman, Jenn McMurrer, and Mayor Harry Rilling have a clear mandate to continue pursuing policies that make inclusive growth and shared opportunity their main priority.
“WFP wants to congratulate all the winners. We look forward to working together in the coming years for a better Norwalk.”
Updated 12:40 p.m.: More information.