MERIDEN — Democratic City Council candidate David Salafia has waived his right to an automatic vote recount and conceded the at-large seat to Republican Lennie Rich Thursday.
Salafia lost to Rich by 35 votes triggering an automatic recount to determine a winner. But on Thursday, Salafia said he didn’t want a recount and congratulated Rich and the other winner of an at-large seat David Lowell, who was the top vote-getter.
“I ran to support the students and the schools with a keen eye on the taxpayers, which includes the seniors,” Salafia said. “I congratulate the two at-large winners. I know they pledged to do the same thing.”
Waiving the recount gives Rich the seat, said Democratic Town Chairwoman Millie Torres-Ferguson, adding she believed Salafia made the right decision.
“I’ve seen a lot of recounts,” Torres-Ferguson said. “Although it doesn’t sound like much, 35 votes is not an amount that can get easily corrected.”
Democrats had hoped to fill the at-large seat vacated by retiring councilor Anthony Tomassetti with another Democrat.
Democrats will now control seven seats on the council, compared to three for the Republicans and two for the We The People Party. In addition to losing the council seat, the party also lost the mayoral race to Republican Manny Santos.
Torres-Ferguson said the party will review the election results and look for things it can improve or do differently.
Rich, a political newcomer, said he was grateful to Salafia for saving the time and expense of a recount. He said the race between himself, Lowell and Salafia was very close – only 109 votes separated the top vote-getter from third place, Rich said.
“It was a very challenging competitive race,” Rich said. “Dave and I both volunteer with the Friends of Falcon. I know him well and I thank him.”
Rich said he didn’t agree with the way the city spends money and that was the reason for his campaign. He also didn’t like the project labor agreement that the city chose to use on the two high schools. He also believes there can be more efficient spending.
“I don’t think it’s going to be easy by any means,” Rich said.