Mayor’s victory by unofficial total of 106 votes
EAST HAVEN — Mayor Joseph Maturo Jr. succeeded in his re-election bid Tuesday by a squeaker of a margin: 106 votes.
Maturo, a former firefighter, has already served eight terms, from 1997 to 2007 and from 2011 to 2017. His challenger, Sal Maltese, broke from the Republican Party in 2014 and ran as an Independent in 2015, winning in District 2.
This time, as a Democrat, Maltese held onto the Democratic stronghold District 2, but also won at two polling stations in Districts 1 and 5.
Ultimately, Maturo took 3,649 votes to Maltese’s 3,543, according to unofficial totals from the registrar of voters’ office.
Maturo admitted to being nervous before the votes came in, saying his nerves haven’t abated on Election Day, even in his 13th campaign.
When he was announced the winner, he removed his glasses to wipe away a tear.
“The Republicans know how to run government,” he said.
Republican campaign manager Joe Zullo, however, said the Maltese campaign “straddled what was acceptable” in a local election campaign.
About a quarter-mile away, the Maltese campaign announced defeat minutes later, and the mayoral candidate said it had been the Maturo campaign that operated in bad faith during the race. He said he offered Maturo a handshake when he ran into him at a polling place, and Maturo pulled his hand back.
“Nobody does that to me,” he said.
Maltese said Maturo is “a tough person to beat,” but “I did something to put a scare into this guy.”
Republican Town Chairman Bob Parente, a member of the Town Council who won re-election in his own race by 42 votes, said voters have responded positively to economic development efforts under Maturo.
“The bottom line is people vote with their pockets,” Parente said.
Annette Brissette, a voter in District 2, said she voted to do her civic duty, and neither Maturo nor Maltese had reached her during the campaign. Although she’s not “politically minded,” she voted to give Maturo another term. “He’s been good all these years, so why stop now?” she said.
Voters elsewhere spoke with passion, but refrained from sharing their names.
“We want to keep the crooks out,” said one woman outside the Grove J. Tuttle School polling station, emphasizing she was there to support “my mayor.” Her husband said he has lived in East Haven since 1949, and he’s never seen any mayor do better.
A man in his 30s entering Tuttle said he was voting for Maltese to “see some change.” “I believe in term limits,” he said.
The Democrats flipped two seats on the Town Council, giving them a minority of seven seats to the Republicans’ eight. The Republicans also have a one-seat majority on the nine-member Board of Education, and Democrats won three of four available seats on the Board of Finance. Republican Town Clerk Stacy Gravino held on to her seat.
Standing next to an election tally board, left, incumbent East Haven Mayor Joe Maturo thanks his supporters at campaign headquarters Tuesday.
East Haven Democratic mayoral candidate Sal Maltese and Clara DiMartino, right, a campaign worker at the Main Street campaign headquarters on election night.