EDITORIAL: GOP excels in local elections



Election Day turned out to be a big day for the Republican Party in Connecticut. As the Connecticut Mirror reported, the GOP claimed significant victories by both keeping seats and by flipping them across the state.

As the Record-Journal reported, voters were also comfortable with Republicans in Wallingford, Southington and Cheshire.

Not all victories were resounding. It may take a while to fully appreciate the challenge of Democrat Riley O’Connell to what was once assumed to be an invincible hold on the town by incumbent Republican Mayor William W. Dickinson Jr.  Dickinson won his 20th term, but the margin was the slimmest it’s been in 30 years: 6,632 votes compared to O’Connell’s 6,236 votes, a difference of 396 votes (those are unofficial numbers). While O’Connell came up short, his performance should energize Democrats, and he should be encouraged to run again.

As victory became clear, Dickinson said: “We’re going to do the best we can to see we have a community to be proud of.” Yet the vote tally shows there is no longer the confidence level in Dickinson that there was for years, and that could mean more challenges to his authority in his term ahead.

Wallingford Republicans also retained a 6 to 3 majority on the Town Council and also kept a majority on the Board of Education.

Their GOP counterparts in Southington also rode a wave of support. All of the party’s incumbents won re-election to the Town Council. They also kept majorities on the school board, the Board of Finance and the Planning and Zoning Commission.

Erica Byrne, Democratic Town Committee chairwoman, told the Record-Journal national issues were involved. “I think the Republicans have done a good job of using national issues to motivate local voters,” she said.

One issue where party affiliation did not seem to matter was the $17 million referendum to replace the town’s aging library with a new one. It garnered overwhelming and bipartisan support.

In Cheshire, Republican incumbents on the Town Council and school board kept their seats, and the party maintained majorities.

Republicans also made gains in Meriden, though in not so dramatic a fashion. The City Council’s Democratic majority was reduced by one when Chad Cardillo, who had filled a vacancy, failed in his bid to win election. A Republican challenger, Ray Ouellet, a city police officer, won election, and now the Democrats’ council majority will sit at 8 to 4.

Mayor Kevin Scarpati, an unaffiliated incumbent who has the backing of Democrats, fended off a challenge by Republican Elain Cariati to find his way to a fourth term.

Drama still awaits in the results of the Meriden school board election, with a recount scheduled for Nov. 10. A 17-vote margin is the difference in determining the fifth and final seat at play in the nine-member board. Incumbent Republican Allan Pronovost had tallied 3,840 votes, while Democrat Nickimmy Hayes received 3,823 votes, triggering the recount.

Amid all the vote tallies is a dismal election-related figure: a 25.3% voter turnout in Meriden. It means just slightly more than a quarter of Silver City registered voters came out to decide the city’s future.



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