13th Senate victor Hochadel thrilled by Democratic wins in Meriden

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MERIDEN — City resident, longtime educator and statewide union leader Jan Hochadel is headed to her first term as state senator, after election tallies showed she prevailed in three of the four communities that make up the 13th Senate District.

Unofficial results showed Hochadel, a Democrat, amassed more votes than her Republican opponent Joseph Vollano in Meriden, Middletown and Cheshire. Meanwhile, Vollano did hold a two-digit lead in Middlefield.

Overall results reported on Wednesday showed Hochadel had gathered 17,871 total votes compared to Vollano’s 14,944 cumulative vote tally.

In Meriden, where both Hochadel and Vollano reside, the Democrat edged her opponent 8,128 votes to 7,044 votes, according to unofficial counts. In Middletown, Hochadel garnered 4,129 votes, versus Vollano’s 2,751 votes. Hochadel led in Cheshire as well — 5,181 to 4,645.  In Middlefield, Vollano’s lead was 504 votes to Hochadel’s 433 votes. 

Hochadel, in an email to the Record-Journal, described the energy during Tuesday night’s post-election celebration at Dawg House Bar & Grill on Broad Street as “electric.”

“The general theme was very, very encouraging… There was a lot at stake, and this race was hard fought from the beginning,” Hochadel said in a statement. “I wouldn’t have been elected without the help of the individuals who volunteered, donated, or put up a yard sign.”

Hochadel, the current president of the Connecticut chapter of the American Federation of Teachers, especially thanked those she called “my union brothers and sisters.” 

“They knocked on thousands of doors, made so many phone calls and did the work necessary to send one of their own to our state Capitol,” Hochadel wrote, adding she is thrilled that other Democrats on the Meriden ticket will also be headed to the State House. 

Incumbent Democratic representatives Michael Quinn and Hilda Santiago ran unopposed in the 82nd and 84th districts, respectively. Jonathan “Jack” Fazzino, of Berlin, held onto a narrow lead in the 83rd district over Republican opponent Lou Arata. 

“It’s clear what the community wanted,” Hochadel wrote regarding the makeup of the delegation that will head to Hartford in January. 

Hochadel stated that the different roles she’s served throughout her life “have uniquely prepared me for this position as state senator. 

“Over the next two months it is my goal to continue having conversations with community stakeholders so I can hit the ground running on January 4th. Ours is a great community, but with collaboration, we can make it better still,” Hochadel said. 

Hochadel’s campaign manager Nicoletta Blevins said as of 1:30 p.m. Wednesday the Democrat’s campaign had not been contacted by Vollano’s campaign to offer either a concession or congratulations. 

Vollano confirmed the same when reached by a reporter Wednesday afternoon. Still, the Republican said he wishes Hochadel the best.

“Even though I believe that she is going to be an absolute disaster not only for this district but for every citizen of Connecticut,” Vollano said, painting his election opponent as “a typical tax and spend liberal who has absolutely no idea the concerns and needs of the city of Meriden or any of the towns surrounding it. 

“At the end of the day, I truly believe we did not lose to her. We actually lost to just the D attached to the end of her name — because I believe she was an absolutely horrible candidate,” Vollano said, partly attributing the failure of his campaign to an underwhelming performance in Cheshire and the addition of new voting districts in Middletown. 

Hochadel’s victory came during a gubernatorial race in which local voter turnout was lower than expected, according to Meriden city officials. Overall, 15,912 of 30,834 eligible voters in the city cast ballots — a turnout of around 51.6%. By comparison, in 2018, the last gubernatorial election year, citywide voter turnout was near 64%, reported city clerk Denise Grandy. 

The overall turnout notwithstanding, Santiago told a reporter she feels “ecstatic” to be sending a Democratic delegation to Hartford “that really cares about the city of Meriden.”

She attributed the Democrats’ success this cycle to “good grassroots level campaigning.”

Santiago said the city’s delegation already works well together “to make sure the needs and programs that are viable to Meriden are being brought back and being funded.” Santiago anticipates Hochadel will be a strong addition to that team. 

Quinn said voters responded to Democrats’ message favorably. 

“I think all of the campaigns on both sides ran strong races and the voters had their opportunity to air their view. They decided what our side was offering was preferable to them,” Quinn said. 

Elain Cariati, chair of the Meriden Republican Town Committee, said she is “obviously very disappointed” about the election outcome. 

“But we respect the process,” Cariati said, adding party leaders take the lessons learned from this year’s campaign into the next local election. 

“You just gotta dust yourself off and move on,” Cariati said. 



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