Voters in West Haven will elect a new mayor in November after former city council member Nancy Rossi defeated incumbent Mayor Ed O’Brien by a razor thin margin in Tuesday’s Democratic primary.
Rossi defeated O’Brien by only 136 votes.
“An upset win, yeah I think so considering everybody is shocked,” Rossi told NBC Connecticut.
A certified CPA, Rossi said she wants to balance West Haven’s budget, but she knows there is some uncertainty because of the state’s fiscal mess.
“I’m hoping by November 7 that they have a budget,” she said. “But maybe I’m being optimistic here, but even if they don’t we’ll have to take one day at a time, go through each line item and absolutely make some changes.”
O’Brien said he is disappointed with voter turnout, adding “they thought it was going to be a shoe-in, a landslide and they just didn’t show up to vote.”
“I was surprised,” he said Wednesday afternoon in his office. “I think the people of West Haven thought we were doing a good job, we have economic development like we’ve never seen in West Haven.”
A major project NBC Connecticut has been following is the planned transformation of a section of West Haven’s waterfront into an upscale shopping mall called The Haven.
“As far the hold up in the project, I am concerned,” Rossi said. “Almost four years have gone by and we still don’t have a shovel in the ground.”
O’Brien defended the delay by saying “unfortunately in elections past they would move a bulldozer and do a lot of props before an election to make it look like something was happening.”
Rossi said she supports the renovations to West Haven High School, but she has concerns about the funding.
“I am concerned about the bonding because we do have a very low rating,” she said.
As for public safety, Rossi said she’d like to see more community policing.
“People come for education and they want to feel safe,” she said, “and without those two factors we’re not going to get anyone to move in here.”
Rossi will face Republican city council member David Riccio in the Nov. 7 general election.
NBC Connecticut asked O’Brien if he intends to support Rossi.
“If she asks for help, I’m a Democrat, I lost the Democratic primary,” he said, “I’m going support a democratic team but I’m not interested in turning the city backwards.”
In his four years in office, O’Brien said the quality of life has improved in West Haven. He said the city has done several road paving projects and upgraded police cars and plow trucks.