The Crowd Cheers "Unk, Unk, Unk, Unk" (Update, Nov. 9, 1:30 p.m.)
Most of the are in showing the democrats will keep their stronghold in the RTM, 19 seats to 11 – they formerly held a 22 to 8 majority – but the big victory last night went to DaRos who will enter his sixth term as Branford's First Selectman just after Thanksgiving.
DaRos was treated to cheers of "Unk, Unk, Unk" last night when he beat Republican challenger Joy McConnell for the First Selectman's seat. He addressed the crowd thanking them for support and also highlighting some of the campaign trials and tribulations.
Off the bat he started with numbers. "I always rate these elections as a rule of thumb. One is I know 20 percent of the people won't vote for me no matter what... I also know two and half percent are mad at me for every year I've been in office so that's 45 percent."
DaRos continued noting that he and his party "put up with a lot this election." Putting the party issues aside – you can read more about that – DaRos said articles and op-eds published in the New Haven Register on the eve of the election and on election day were upsetting. "For the New Haven Register to pull that maneuver is beyond comprehension," he said. "The rest of this," he added, "I find it to be kind of funny."
You can hear the rest of his speech by watching the video above.
Joy McConnell has not returned phone calls today to be interviewed.
Unk Wins Branford's First Selectman's Race
After winning the First Selectman’s race tonight by 992 votes, the incumbent candidate told his crowd of cheering friends, family and running mates to go out and buy new seat belts because the next two years is going to be one heck of a ride.
Shortly before the results were in, DaRos said the next two years would be different from the last in terms of government discourse. Of some of the more heated RTM and Selectman meetings of the past, DaRos, “It’s just not going to happen.”
For now, though, he said, “We’ve got to go to work tomorrow morning.”
In a somewhat narrow race, Republican challenger Joy McConnell loss to DaRos 2,933 to 3,915 votes.
McConnell arrived at the Italian American Club where the Democrats were waiting for results and congratulated her opponent. She left before Patch had a chance to interview her but DaRos said of McConnell that she was brave to run as elections are challenging.
Ray Ingraham, the Republican campaign manager said, "We came close. It's still a disappointment." He called McConnell "a newcomer to politics, but not a newcomer to Branford. "She came up a bit short," he said.
In the second selectman race, Andy Campbell-D takes the title against Jaime Cosgrove by a narrow 298 votes. Cosgrove assumes the position as Third Selectman being the next highest vote getter.
After winning the Second Selectman’s seat, Campbell said he wasn’t quite ready to celebrate given the fact that the Democrats lost a few of their RTM members where they formerly had a 21 to 9 majority representation. The final totals of RTM members are not in yet so check back with Patch.
“I think we are bleeding a couple RTM members from the majority,” said Campbell, “so the best I am getting is melancholy. Some of the best leaders in Branford are walking out right now pretty bummed out.”
On a brighter note, he said he was looking forward to working with Cosgrove and DaRos.
Jamie Cosgrove, who lost his bid for the seat of Second Selectman said of the Republican results broadly,"I'm obviously upset. It's not the result we wanted." Cosgrove did acknowledge, "We made some significant gains as a party." Of his personal success in winning a selectman's seat, he said, "I was hoping to be part of the majority, not the minority."
Today’s voter turnout was about what most poll moderators had expected with approximately 30 percent of the 17,590 registered voters turning out. Total numbers will be updated soon as they are available.
DaRos said the turnout was a little lower than he had hoped for and with one of the most beautiful days of the season today he said, “You can’t blame the weather on this one.”
We’ll have an interview with DaRos about this race tomorrow as well as full results from all the races.
–Nancy Barnes contributed to this report.
Voter Turnout Unexpectedly High in District 5 (update at 6:15 p.m.)
The total town's voter turnout was somewhere near 26 percent as of 4 p.m. tonight according to Nora Vetrano, Assistant Republican Deputy Registrar of Voters. That total was expected. What came as a shock was the near 1,000 voters who had filtered through the doors of Indian Neck School, District 5 starting at 6 a.m. this morning at a rate of 100 people per hour. The district, Vetrano said, was going like gangbusters.
The registrar preemptively took action and ordered more ballots printed and sent a staff member to pick them up just after 4 p.m. when there was 500 ballots left at the polls. “We don’t want to get down to 7 o’clock,” said Vetrano, “and find out we’ve run out.”
District 4 and District 1, which were projected to have the highest voter turnout, were each stocked with 2,000 ballots for Election Day. District 5 was given 1,500.
In total, District 5 has about 2,736 registered voters compared to 3,098 in District 1. Tonight’s last minute ballot run will bring a couple hundred more ballots to District 5 just in case.
Of the high turnout, District 5 moderator Donna Melcher said, “I’m not surprised but at this point, I don’t want to have another Bridgeport.” Melcher is referring to the 2008 presidential election when Bridgeport ran out of ballots.
Melcher has been working the polls for more than two dozen years, half of which she has served as a moderator. This election with a rate of 100 voters an hour was no more stressful than past elections, she said. “I have a great group of workers and a great group at the registrar’s and in town hall so I have no complaints.”
As of 4 p.m., the overall voter turnout was 4,637 people, or about 26 percent of voters, with more expected to file in for the evening rush. On target with what she projected, Vetrano said the registrar’s office was not surprised with the turnout. “Local elections don’t drum up the same reaction a presidential election does.”
For results after the polls close, stick with Branford Patch
Three People Will Take to the Polls to Clean Up the Mess (Update 3:30 p.m.)
It takes a town to vote but on election night, there are just three brave souls who do the cleaning.
Branford Registrar Lee Thomas spent her day working the polls while her husband readied the polling centers and has big plans for this evening’s cleanup. Soon as the last ballot is counted, Joe Thomas takes to one center and begins to dismantle the machines and booths. Three people total, said Joe, take apart the centers and they do so alone. They take one center each and get to work, he said.
When asked his anticipated finish time tonight, Joe said somewhere around midnight.
Joe is one of many people who work the polls on Election Day and help to make it all happen. The community says thanks to Joe and good luck with the sweep-up!
Branford Newcomers Enjoy the Day Off With Grandchildren (update 2:30 p.m.)
This morning at , with a table full of crayons and drawings, Linda and Dave Fritzsche were entertaining their granddaughters Isabella and Mia Armellino. Isabella is in kindergarten at so she was treated to a day off due to elections.
Mia said she was happy to be with her grandparents and had her heart set on visiting the "colored turkeys" at Gozzi's Farm in Guilford.
This year the Fritzsches who just moved to Branford from Massachusetts are happy to spend Election Day with the kids but next year they said they'll be voting. "We're too new here to have voted," said Dave with Linda adding, "Next time it's Election Day, me and Papa can vote."
With politics far from the brain and a trip to the park up next on the agenda followed by lunch at and dinner at Mia said, "We have a whole day of fun!"
Were you off from work today or home with the kids? What did you do?
Candidates Make Their Rounds to the Polls (Update 12 p.m.)
Just before noon, I stopped by District 3, the Orchard House, and met up with current and his . Both posed for a photo and like most democrats and republicans at the other polling centers, the two were very amicable.
McConnell said she felt the race was going well. "I want all the republicans to come out and vote," she said. "Voter turnout is key for me. I was told it was going to be a close race and I hope so."
Earlier at District 4, Branford Hills School, DaRos said said he also thought his party was doing well. Ultimately he said, "It's up to the public on how they want to deal with it."
By lunchtime, both selectman candidates were almost done touring all seven polling centers.
District 4 has the most registered voters with 3,278 total. Today, the turnout was steady for the center and moderator Lowell Collingwood said he had seen 250 people come through the door this morning. The turnout, he said, "is average." Collingwood, when not working the polls, is also known as a Branford Fire Department Captain – today he took a vacation day to do his civic duty as moderator.
Though District 4 was the most steady of all districts today, District 6, Mary T. Murphy School, was slower than center moderator Dorothy Stenger had hoped for. "I thought activity was kind of overt all over town so I thought it would drum up more enthusiasm especially from 6 to 8 [a.m.]," she said. A moderator for 15 to 16 years, Stenger said she found the turn out, so far today, comparatively slow to past years.
Out front of District 6, Jamie Cosgrove-R, for second selectman said he thought the turnout was steady. Of his chances of winning, Cosgrove said, "I'm optimistic. It's hard to tell. I don't get excited until the final results are in."
Across the isle, or in this case, across the parking lot, Democrat RTM candidate Chris Sullivan proudly held a homemade sign up, encouraging voters. He said he felt confident that he'd get re-elected. "I knocked on 250 doors," he said, "and only two weren't happy."
Check out our photos above to see what other candidates were at the polls and what they had to say about this election.
Early-Morning Ballot Casting (Update 8:10 a.m.)
This morning I headed to at the and moderator Walt Smith-R, told me that turnout was a "little light" so far.
Despite a smaller than hoped for crowd, the stream of voters was steady from 6:45 a.m. until just about 8 a.m. when I left.
Outside the polls, democrat candidates for RTM, and , as well as Second Selectman hopeful were holding political signs and greeting incoming voters. They were joined by two republican representatives, Colin Conte and Jeremy Schilder who are seniors at Notre Dame High School. They were volunteering for the republican campaign of , first selectman candidate, and , second selectman candidate, as part of their government class.
We're headed out to next so if you're voting at Mary T. Murphy School, be sure to say hello!
Did you vote today? Be sure to tell us in the comments and add your photos.
Branford Election Day Coverage Happens Here
Today’s the big 2011 Election Day and Branford Patch is excited to keep you informed about how the races are going and what’s developing as the day unfolds.
For news first, be sure to follow Branford Patch on Facebook and Branford Patch on Twitter. You can interact with us via social media and let us know what you think about the elections throughout the day.
We want to make sure you’re informed before heading to the polls so here are some helpful links to get you off on the right foot today:
- We’ve got an interactive map of the polling centers.
Be sure you know who you are voting for!
- Meet the First Selectman Candidates
- It’s too late to register to vote but and the behind-the-scenes of preparation for the polling centers.
Because we won’t be at all seven polling centers at once, we hope you’ll inform the community about what you see around town. Please share your thoughts in the comments section and add your photos to this gallery with this story. If you're proud that you voted, let us know or if you see someone special, like your favorite senior citizen or one of the candidate, voting today, be sure to share a photo.
I’m off the polls now to cast my vote and I hope to see many of you today. Be sure to show me your “I Voted Today” sticker and I’ll be sure to stop and say hello!
Happy ballot casting.