Mansfield residents handed Democrats a landslide victory Tuesday after the party’s get-out-the-vote efforts resulted in every Democratic candidate winning on Election Day.
Republicans did not contest any of the six Democratic-held seats on the nine-member town council, opting instead to run three candidates out of the six they were allowed to field. Under Connecticut minority party representation laws in at-large town council systems, the minority party is guaranteed one-third of the seats available.
With exactly nine candidates running for town council, all nine were victorious. Turnout among Democratic voters was significantly higher than expected given the uncontested status of the town council race. Town Clerk Mary Stanton said it had been “more than a decade” since Republicans ran only three candidates.
Overall, 2,383 residents cast ballots in the elections. This is the second highest vote total since the 2007 municipal elections and the highest vote total in a year not featuring a full Republican slate.
The top vote-earner among the town council candidates, Bill Ryan, received 1,643 votes. This is down just 18 votes from 2013, when he was also the top vote-earner.
Two recent UConn graduates – Ben Shaiken, who graduated in 2010, and Mark Sargent, who graduated in May – were among those elected. Shaiken, a Democrat, spent two years as the operations manager for WHUS while Sargent, a Republican, served as the Undergraduate Student Government president for one term.
Shaiken finished fourth highest in votes among town council candidates with 1,561 while Sargent was left in last place with 739 votes.
Among the Democrats, UConn law professor Peter Kochenburger finished with the second highest vote total at 1,619. Deputy Mayor Paul Shapiro received 1,585 votes, which was the third highest. Democratic Town Committee chairwoman Toni Moran finished fifth highest with 1,534 votes. Alex Marcellino rounded out the group with 1,475 votes.
The other Republican candidates, Steve Kegler and Virginia Raymond, finished seventh and eighth with 818 votes and 739 votes, respectively.
While Republicans failed to mount enough challengers in five out of the six races to put Democratic seats into contention, the Democrats’ margin of victory far exceeded that of past years. Marcellino, who received the fewest votes among Democrats, received 657 more votes than the highest vote-earning Republican candidate, Kegler.
This far exceeds the 185 vote differential in the 2013 town elections.
“I think it means that Democrats in town, the people in town spoke up and said that they were happy with our leadership and wanted it to continue,” Shaiken said. “And that’s exactly what we wanted to get out of all of the work that we’ve put in on this campaign.”
In the only contested race, the Democrats held onto both seats on the Mansfield Board of Education. Incumbent Democrats Kathy Ward and Randy Walikonis received 1,533 and 1,406 votes, respectively. Republican incumbent Katherine Paulhus retained her seat on the board, receiving 758 votes to beat out Al Fratoni, a second Republican candidate, at 651 votes.