Power or Not, Voters Head to Polls

Power outages have forced some towns to change polling locations.

The municipal elections are running smoothly in the state a little more than a week after a freak autumn snow storm hit the state and forced some polling places to be moved.

However, the fact that many voters have been busy dealing with days without electricity is being blamed for low voter turnout in some towns on Tuesday.

In Farmington, where 300 homes remained without power, turnout was 13 percent at 2:30 p.m.

Republican Registrar Edward Leary said many people have been paying more attention to making sure their pipes didn't freeze than who was running for local offices such as the school board.

He said turnout for municipal elections is typically 30 to 35 percent.

Polls opened at 6 a.m. as Connecticut voters in 164 cities and towns were to cast ballots for local candidates.

In 10 towns, regular polling places were moved or consolidated because there wasn't power or there was too much damage. Those municipalities are:

  • Farmington
  • Avon
  • Bloomfield
  • Newington
  • Plymouth
  • Simsbury
  • Somers
  • South Windsor
  • Stafford
  • Vernon

Typically, voter turnout for local elections is light, about 20 to 30 percent of registered voters. Secretary of the State Denise Merrill said the state would be lucky to get that amount of turnout, given the fact that hundreds of thousands of residents have been without power for about a week and might not be paying a lot of attention to the races.

"If you're still without power, uppermost in your mind is that you're being cold and you're wondering when the power is going to come back on," she said. "So I perfectly understand that."

However, she said turnout would likely vary by municipality and there are some competitive races.

One of the more closely watched mayoral races will be in Waterbury, where five-term Mayor Michael Jarjura is running for re-election as a Republican candidate after being rejected by his fellow Democrats. His party backed retired Waterbury Police Chief Neil O'Leary, who Jarjura originally appointed.

Also running is Independent Party candidate Larry DePillo, who narrowly lost to Jarjura a decade ago.

Jarjura is known for running in unusual races. In 2005, the former state representative lost the Democratic primary for mayor but won re-election as a write-in candidate.

The Democratic mayors of Connecticut's largest cities are up for re-election, including Pedro Segarra in Hartford. The Democrat, however, has been cross-endorsed by the Republicans. Segarra took over as mayor in June 2010 after former Mayor Eddie Perez was convicted on corruption charges.

Segarra is seeking his first full term. He faces challenges from three petitioning candidates: Rev. Patrice Smith, Planning and Zoning Commission member Edwin Vargas and local businessman J. Stan McCauley.

In New Haven, Democratic Mayor John DeStefano is seeking his 10th term in office. If he wins, he would become the city's longest-serving mayor in New Haven's history. He faces independent newcomer Jeffrey Kerekes. Meanwhile, Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch, also a Democrat, is seeking a second term in office. He faces Republican businessman Rick Torres and Independent Jeff Kohut.

In Middletown, incumbent Republican mayor Sebastian Giuliano faces Democrat Daniel T. Drew and petitioning candidate Christine Bourne. There will also be a question on Tuesday's ballot confirming the appointment of Patrick McMahon as Middletown's police chief. Guiliano had placed McMahon, who was the acting police chief, on leave last month. He said McMahon provided him with conflicting statements about drinking while wearing a badge and carrying a gun, and withdrew his support for McMahon.

McMahon has insisted he never lied.

Besides mayors and first selectmen, other local offices are up for grabs, such as members of school and zoning boards, city and town councils, and constables. To see a list of ballots from each town, click here.

Merrill said some incumbent officials may be judged by voters on their performance over the past week dealing with the hundreds of thousands of outages caused by the snow storm.

"I'm hoping that people will be voting out there and that's because, you're seeing right now, the power and impact of local election officials and other officials on your life," she said. "So, these are the people you are voting for."

Polls are open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. You can view the results on our Web site.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
Contact Us