(Updated, 4:40 a.m.: Complete story.)
NORWALK, Conn. — Mayor Harry Rilling has defeated Republican-endorsed challenger Lisa Brinton and won reelection for a fourth term.
Rilling will again be supported by a 14-1 Democratic Common Council. The Board of Education will be entirely comprised of Democrats, and feature six women on the nine-member panel. Tom Keegan will be the only Republican Council member.
“Suffice it to say, the Norwalk Democratic Party is at the top right now in the city of Norwalk,” State Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff (D-25) said, in helping to announce the results to Democrats gathered at the Hilton Garden Inn.
Rilling celebrated with an exuberance like what he showed six years ago, when he defeated eight-year Republican Mayor Richard Moccia to take office.
“I’m so honored and privileged to be reelected for a fourth term,” Rilling said. “…I just I don’t even think I can explain what I’m feeling right now. I am so happy. This is an amazing city. I am so proud of what we’ve accomplished together.”
“The sad thing is I’m not the loser. The city of Norwalk is,” Brinton said, sitting in the Norwalk Inn, later.
Democrats and Republicans saw the election results in different ways. Democrats had a tally that showed Rilling had won with 55.2 percent of the vote. Republicans appeared to be using the News12 tally: the station said that the count was 52% to 48% with 100% of the results in. News12 said Rilling had 7,353 votes and Brinton had 6,830.
At about 11 p.m., Brinton had not called Rilling to concede. This was a first, he said, as the challenger has always called to concede when the results became obvious.
“No absentee ballots. That’s why I haven’t called,” Brinton said, citing the 523-vote difference News12 was advertising. “I’ll call Harry in a couple of days but it’s 500 votes and no absentees, I’m not calling that man.”
Norwalk Democratic Registrar Stuart Wells, at 1 a.m., released preliminary results showing Rilling had won with 55.4% of the vote. That does not include absentee ballots.
Rilling, former Norwalk Police Chief, won reelection two years ago with 56% of the vote. He won reelection in 2015 with 63% and defeated Moccia with 54.5%.
Brinton ran two years ago as an unaffiliated petitioning candidate and got 22.4% of the vote, ahead of Republican Andy Conroy, who got 15.2%. She sought the Republican endorsement this year so she could take Rilling on head to head, she said.
The campaign was marked by vitriol, including attack videos spread through social media by a Brinton supporter.
Attorney General William Tong, in introducing the victors at the Hilton Garden Inn, said Rilling had “weathered a lot of negative personal attacks” and done his campaign “the right way.”
“The voters have responded to a positive message and as the Attorney General says, this campaign and the Mayor in particular gone through a number of negative attacks, a number of negative campaigning and falsehoods, but the people of the city of Norwalk have seen right through that,” Duff said.
“We’re going to continue to see responsible development and work on our infrastructure and we’re going to continue to see … elected officials who treat the public with respect. They listen, they are civil. And we have seen that in our ballots tonight, how they have elected people who will be that way and they have turned their turn aside people who are not that way,” Duff said.
“We understand what people are all about, what people need, and I am so proud to stand here as a Democrat,” Rilling said. “…We have a team that will serve this city with dignity, professionalism, honor, and more importantly, appreciation, appreciation for your support, making sure that we are going to continue to grow this city the proper way, and to continue to make this city not only the strongest and most progressive city in the state of Connecticut, but the strongest, the most progressive city anywhere.”
“This is not about me,” Brinton said. “It’s never been about me. It’s about the city. The problem is now ‘POKO’ is going through. The (Walk) Bridge is going through.”
Brinton had promised to seek a 90-day moratorium on the state’s plan to rebuild the Walk Bridge, the aged railroad bridge over the Norwalk River. She charged that Rilling was delaying a vote on the plan to move “POKO,” officially called Wall Street Place, forward because she got the Republican endorsement and he knew he was in a tough reelection fight. Rilling said the parties were working to adjust the POKO plan in response to public input, and that it hadn’t worked out yet.
Brinton said, “I’m the only one that’s had the courage to stand up to that, to the police chief Mayor, because everyone else is afraid of him. I’m not afraid of Harry Rilling.”
She said she thought the vote tally would end up at 51-49, “it’s going to be very close, which is what I predicted.”
“The loser is the city of Norwalk. Because it’s sad that this girl from Salt Lake City cares more about the city of Norwalk than our police chief Mayor, than the guy born and raised here,” she said. “He’s selling this city out, block by block.”
Brinton’s campaign treasurer, Republican Board of Education member Bryan Meek, lost his bid for reelection to represent District D, with 1,650 votes to Democratic challenger Erica DePalma’s 2,358 votes. She won with 58.8% of the vote.
“I lost my seat by a substantial margin tonight and I’m fine with that. My opponent is worthy and will hopefully be up to the task of massive deficits coming up,” Meek wrote in a 3 a.m. email to fellow Republican Town Committee members.
Keegan, a police officer, came in second in District D to incumbent Council member George Tsiranides. Wells’ tally shows Keegan with 1,995 votes, ahead of Democratic candidate James Page’s 1,901 votes. This makes him the only Republican to win a major elected position. He will take the seat held by veteran Council member Doug Hempstead, who has served as the only Republican on the Council for the last two years.
Keegan said he had “big shoes to fill.”
“I’m humbled,” he said. “I promise to do my very best. And I hope that even though I’m the only one there, that there’s an army behind me.”
Hempstead said Brinton “campaigned well, she did a great job. I mean 49 to 51. That’s a hell of a gain for the Republican Party compared to where we were two years ago.”
You could lift a line from NancyOnNorwalk’s story two years ago and use it today with no problem: “14 Democratic Party-endorsed Council candidates had won, and all of the Democratic Party-endorsed Board of Education candidates.”
“Oh, well…” former Republican Town Committee Chairman Victor Cavallo wrote in a late night comment on NancyOnNorwalk, marking the results from what he’s called his “impeachment,” the RTC vote to replace him with Norwalk Police Officer Mark Suda in March 2018.
Also noteworthy in this election: Michele Sweeney won the Third Taxing District Commissioner spot as the Democratic-endorsed candidate, unseating former Democrat Debora Goldstein, who was on the ballot as a petitioning candidate. Republican Read Auerbach will be Third Taxing District Treasurer, replacing Democratic incumbent Ed Holowinko, who was appointed to the role.
Council member Barbara Smyth got more votes than Rilling. Colin Hosten and Manny Langella, who have tried before, have won election for the first time.
The results, according to Wells:
- Harry Rilling 8,761 (8,377 on the Democratic line and 384 Working Families Party)
- Lisa Brinton 7,031
- Joe Tamburri, D 8,405
- Jerry Petrini, R 6,482
- Robert Burgess, D 8,554
- Scott Vetare, R 6,207
- Rick McQuaid, D 8,827
- Rick McQuaid, R 6,033
Council at large
- Barbara Smyth, D 9,578 (7,968 as a Democrat, 1,610 Working Families Party)
- Manny Langella, D 8,305 (7,699 as a Democrat, 606 Working Families Party)
- Nick Sacchinelli, D 8,263 (7,666 as a Democrat, 597 Working Families Party)
- Greg Burnett, D 7,921 (7,432 as a Democrat, 489 Working Families Party)
- Colin Hosten, D 7,823 (7,330 as a Democrat, 493 Working Families Party)
- Rich Bonenfant, R 6,874
- Glenn Iannaccone, R 6,356
- Artie Kassimis, R 6,127
- Patrick Murphy, R 6,013
- Darnell Crosland, R 5,169
Council District A
- Kadeem Roberts, D 1,908 (1,673 as a Democrat, 235 Working Families Party)
- David Heuvelmann, D 1,845 (1,598 as a Democrat, 247 Working Families Party)
Council District B
(These results are from the Democratic Town Committee; there appears to be a typo on Wells document)
- Ernie Dumas, D 1,004
- Darlene Young, D 1,086
Council District C
- John Kydes, D 2,115 (1,957 as a Democrat, 158 Working Families Party)
- George Theodoridis, D 1,736 (1,613 as a Democrat, 123 Working Families Party)
- Michael Foley, R 1,586
- James Anderson, R 1,264
Council District D
- George Tsiranides, D 2,186 (2,031 as a Democrat, 155 Working Families Party)
- Tom Keegan, R 1,995
- James Page, D 1,901 (1,788 as a Democrat, 113 Working Families Party)
- Carl Dickens, R 1,638
Council District E
- Tom Livington, D 2,143 (2,071 as a Democrat, 135 Working Families Party)
- Lisa Shanahan, D 2,085 (2,132 as a Democrat, 140 Working Families Party)
- Peter Bondi, R 1,338
- Ron Paladino, R 1,326
Board of Education A
- Godfrey Azima, D 1,514 (1,397 as a Democrat, 117 Working Families Party)
- Alexandrea Kemeny, R 996
Board of Education B
- Sherelle Harris, D 1,202
Board of Education C
- Diana Carpio, D 7,312 (1,813 as a Democrat, 168 Working Families Party)
- Jason Christopher, R 1,458
Board of Education D
- Erica DePalma, D 2,358 (2,180 as a Democrat, 178 Working Families Party)
- Bryan Meek, R 1,650
Board of Education E
- Mike Barbis, D 2,345
- Andy Garfunkel, D 8,426
- Samuel Pride, D 7,353
- Shannon O’Toole Giandurco, R 6,059
- Kathryn Martino, R 5,450
- Ernie Dumas, D 7,588
- Johnnie Mae Weldon, D 7,181
- Jalin Sead, D 7,125
- Samuel Disraelly, D 6,945
- Peter Bondi, R 6,262
- Frank Mauro, R 5,814
- Ray Cooke, R 5,782
- John Romano, R 5,781
First Taxing District Commissioner
- Marija Bryant, D 927
- Rosa Luciani, R 463
First Taxing District Treasurer
- Jalin Sead, D 1,087
Second Taxing District Commissioner
- Martha Wooten Dumas, D 927
- Harold Bonet, R 285
Second Taxing District Treasurer
- Darlene Young, D 968
Third Taxing District Commissioner
- Michele Sweeney, D 740 (680 as a Democrat, 60 Working Families Party)
- Charlie Yost, R 584
- Debora Goldsten 141
Third Taxing District Treasurer
- Read Auerbach, R 725
- Edward Holowinko, D 688
Sixth Taxing District Commissioner
- Tamsen Langalis, D 542
- Tamsen Langalis, R 337
Sixth Taxing District Treasurer
- Gilbert Kernan, R 581
Original story (which had been edited shortly after it was posted):
NORWALK, Conn. — Mayor Harry Rilling has survived a challenge from Rowaytonite Lisa Brinton.
Rilling won reelection to a fourth Mayoral term on a 55.2-44.8 count percentage-wise, according to preliminary results presented by the Democratic Town Committee.
Democrats depict the results as another crushing defeat for the Norwalk Republican Party. They say Democrats Diana Carpio and Erica DePalma have won election to the Norwalk Board of Education. Rilling will have a solidly Democratic Common Council, they say.
Dem statistics show that every Democratic at Large Council candidate has won. It appears that Tom Keegan will be the only Republican on the Council, representing District D.
Michele Sweeney has handily won the Third Taxing District Commissioner spot, unseating incumbent Deb Goldstein.