East Haven,

Mayor’s vic­tory by un­of­fi­cial to­tal of 106 votes

New Haven Register (New Haven, CT) - - FRONT PAGE - By Brian Zahn

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.

Peter Hviz­dak / Hearst Con­necti­cut Me­dia

Stand­ing next to an elec­tion tally board, left, in­cum­bent East Haven Mayor Joe Maturo thanks his sup­port­ers at cam­paign head­quar­ters Tues­day.

Peter Hviz­dak / Hearst Con­necti­cut Me­dia

East Haven Demo­cratic may­oral can­di­date Sal Mal­tese and Clara DiMartino, right, a cam­paign worker at the Main Street cam­paign head­quar­ters on elec­tion night.

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