The Unhappy Recap
Yesterday, I arrived at Holland Hill Elementary School just before 6 a.m. and set up signs on my car and prepared the handouts, otherwise known as palm cards, to help remind voters of their options. The Republican challengers were doing the same.
At 6, the door opened and the voting began. Throughout the next 14 hours, various combinations of RTM candidates and town wide candidates from both sides formed a gauntlet that as many voters skirted as endured.
We were all polite to the voters and to each other and the sun shone brightly, making for an ideal day for people to turn out. Being an off-year election, without a First Selectman race, people thought there’d be a low turnout. According to this morning’s numbers, slightly over 27% of district 8’s 3927 registered voters turned out, casting 1078 votes.
When I was not at the polls, I was at my desk, and managed to accomplish more work than I thought I could. Still, I was anxious and was back before my final shift was scheduled to begin. By then, I was growing concerned because the Republican candidates seemed to be favored by way of how they were greeted by folks coming to vote.
Finally, at 8, the polls closed and several of us from both sides sat at a table, awaiting the computerized tallies. Finally, around 8:20, one of the proctors came over and read the results from the top down. It was beginning to be clear more Republicans turned out and with the unaffiliated voters, were voting together.
When Pat Jacobson, a longtime, popular public servant, got a meager showing for her run for Town Planning & Zoning, we knew a rout was underway. Finally, the RTM votes were read aloud. I cannot be certain who was more shocked and stunned, the Republicans who swept us or the incumbents who were suddenly tossed out of office.
By the time I arrived at the post-Election Party, it was a wake. The Republicans had stronger than expected showings across town. Our RTM majority went from 28-22 to a 38-12 minority. On the big screens around us, CNN was showing this was a national phenomenon.
This morning, analysts cite “economic discontent” as the main reason moderate Republicans and independents turned out in high numbers and caused a seismic sweep.
I await the final tallies and the demographic breakdowns from our Registrar of Voters before figuring out what really happened. My guess is, not enough Democrats felt motivated to come out, while unhappy Republicans and Indies saw a chance for change.
At the local level, I find this frustrating. There was no divisive issue charging the town debate. And when it comes to Fairfield issues, the people and not the party ideologies should matter most. Instead, people vote for party and not the merits of the individual candidates.
I am deeply disappointed by the results, the turnout, and the fact that I will no longer be able to serve. Once the wounds are licked, I’ll focus instead on the writing and see how the town fairs under the new management.
For the 388 of you who voted for me, thank you. I am deeply indebted to the Democratic Town Committee for their training, the support, and the opportunity to run. For everyone else who has been in touch, I appreciate your kind notes.