The incumbent in the highly-contested West Haven mayoral race has secured the win during Sunday's recount.
Democratic Mayor Nancy Rossi won against challenger Barry Cohen with a mere 32-vote margin.
Rossi secured 4,275 votes and Cohen had 4,243 votes.
On Election Day, a total of 29 votes separated the two candidates. The margin of less than half percent led to an automatic recount.
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“I feel relieved. I feel pleased that it shows the voters that other than a minimal change, the voting was correct. The reporting was correct and I think that is very, very important," Rossi said.
“I do believe it did impact the voters whether they decided to stay home, vote for somebody else, whatever it was. That being said, right now I’m very pleased with the outcome. We’re going to move forward and we’re going to make changes we need to make. And again we’re going to get through this together. We’re Westies," she continued.
However, on the eve of Sunday's recount, Cohen called on Rossi to resign, regardless of the recount outcome.
“This administration is already shattered the public trust," Cohen said.
In his calls for resignation, Cohen references an FBI fraud investigation into the alleged theft of $636,000 in city COVID-19 relief funds. A former city hall employee has been arrested by the FBI and indicted.
“Leadership starts at the top, fault starts at the top," Cohen said.
“What I said from the beginning still stands: that we want to make sure every ballot was counted appropriately. Obviously the administration that’s in here now is problematic. We know that. We also know that I stand by regardless of the recount this mayor should resign. This mayor should step aside because we all know this is going to get worse," Cohen continued.
Rossi says that six months after the thefts allegedly started to occur, she noticed the discrepancy and reported it, leading to the arrest of the former city employee.
“That is Barry Cohen’s opinion. I will not resign. I have no reason to resign. I have not done anything incorrectly or wrong. And as you can see so far that has played out. My name is not on any of these alleged vouchers or anything at all like this. So no, I will not be resigning," Rossi said.
The mayor says she is currently developing emergency measures to prevent fraud in the future.
"One of the things that I have made public to tie in and give some assurance was anything over $5,000 has to be reviewed by either myself or Louis Esposito from my office," she said. "I want to be clear about this, this is extremely unusual, but given the circumstances, I thought necessary.”
Cohen says Rossi has been promising emergency measures for several years.
“We all believe in transparency," he said. "We all believe that any expenditures over $500 should have been monitored. And they weren't. She broke her promises.”
“I want to win back their trust and my thing is we will do that. We’ve made major strides in what was broken here which was pretty much everything when I got in four years ago, not only the finances, pretty much everything. So we will work this out and work together because I do want to regain everyone’s trust," Rossi said.
The recount proceedings began at 9 a.m. Sunday at City Hall. The vote was announced at approximately 6 p.m.
Workers in the Registrar's Office looked at each ballot to determine which ones need to be hand counted, and which can go through the counting machine.
In 2019, Rossi won the Mayor's seat with 60% of the vote. She got more than 5,000 votes, while her opponent received just over 3,000.
West Haven has nearly 17,000 registered Democrats, and fewer than 4,000 registered Republicans.