It didn’t take long for the results to come in for Mayor of the 2013 election. And when they did it was obvious New Britain would celebrate a new Mayor in Republican Erin Stewart.
Stewart, 26, walked into a room filled with well over 200 people at the Whinstone Tavern screaming her name in excitement as the announcement was made.
“Hello New Britain,” said Stewart. She barely continued as the crowd screamed “Let’s go Erin” and hugs all around were given.
Stewart beat Democrat Tim O’Brien, who was mayor for two years, by a vote of 5,258-4,147.
“Can you hear me? I know New Britain hears me,” she said. “Thank you, thank you, thank you!”
She continued, “Today starts a new journey in the future of New Britain. Today, you saved New Britain. It was 20 years ago today that New Britain elected its first female Mayor, Linda Blogoslawski. And I am truly honored to be its second.”
She also thanked her father Tim Stewart who was a four term mayor and chose not to run two years ago. This marks the first time New Britain has had a father and daughter who have both won election as mayor.
“I’ve got to thank Team Stewart and all the candidates who took a leap of faith to put themselves out there,” said Erin Stewart. “They did a phenomenal job. Some may have come up short, but their faces will still be seen around City Hall because I am not letting them go anywhere.”
Along with Stewart, Cheryl Blogoslawski won as Tax Collector over Greg Gerratana and Mark Bernacki was voted in as Town Clerk over Larry Hermanowski. Five Republicans were named to the Common Council which more than doubled from its previous two. Other races will have recounts and one district may need to have a special election as wrong ballots were given out to some residents. A recount will also take place on Friday.
Stewart said there will be no gag orders on any newspapers including the New Britain City Journal.
“It has been a hell of a ride and I am one happy girl,” said Stewart. “The City of New Britain made an independent minded decision this year. They are the best. They were educated and were not afraid to vote for the person and not the party. Our message was, ‘It’s about people and not politics. It’s about getting the job done and putting the other stuff aside for a better New Britain.’ We do not need divisive politics. We need to open up City Hall doors.”
Blogoslawski said she was inspired to see another female other then her sister become Mayor of New Britain.
“She is a girl with wisdom beyond her years and my years,” said Blogoslawski. “She has surpassed me in her desire to serve the City.”
“I’m very happy and thankful to the people of New Britain,” said Bernacki. “They saw a person in City Hall who was tearing the neighborhoods apart.”
Bernacki said he was happy to get a second chance to serve New Britain after losing his run for mayor in 2011 to O’Brien.
Democratic Teresa Sapieha-Yanchak beat Republican challenger Mark De Grandis for treasurer.
Alderman at large winners included Democrat Daniel Salerno who ran on the Republican slate and Democrats David DeFronzo, Michael Trueworthy, Eva Magnaszewski and Suzanne Bielinski. Due to the closeness of votes between Trueworthy and Republican Celeste Roche a recount may take place.
“What I am most proud of is the City of New Britain has recognized that we need to have bi-partisan efforts in government,” said Salerno. “It is really important to recognize what young people can do for this City, state and country.”
Ward 1 saw Republicans Jamie Giantonio and Willie Pabon retain seats over Democrats Sharon Rodrigue-Baretta and Matt Dabrowski. In Ward 2 Democratic incumbents Tonilynn Collins and Adam Platosz won over Republicans Chris Duffy and Diane Domejczyk. In Ward 3 Democratic incumbents Emmanuel Sanchez and Shirley Black won over Hunter Mathena and Alfred Mayo. In Ward 4 Republican newcomers Robert Smedley and Don Naples were victorious over Democrats Tobias Freeman (incumbent) and Adrian Baron.
Ward 5 shows Democratic incumbents Carlo Carlozzi Jr. and Roy Centeno as winners, but due to a problem with ballots there may be a special election. A recount is also planned as Republicans Lou Salvio and Iwona Rutkowski are very close behind. During one part of the morning, wrong ward ballots were given to some voters.
Board of Education winners were Democrats Sharon Beloin-Saavedra, Judy Greco and Daisy Sanchez as well as Republicans Daniel Davis and Nick Mercier.
“I look forward to the next two years because we are moving New Britain in the right direction,” Stewart added.
O’Brien called Stewart at one point to congratulate her and concede. O’Brien has had a rocky two years as mayor increasing the mill rate by about 8 mills, putting forth new fees to landlords and trying to begin a 911 bill to force residents to pay for emergency (non-medical) calls. He has also been called out for giving jobs to friends in no-bid contracts, increasing the overall budget by $25 million and bonding over $65 million. He also forgave close to $5 million in taxes to HRA and then hired two employees for his office through HRA funds.
Those in attendance at O’Brien’s headquarters compared the mood at the Pulaski Club to a wake by 8:20 p.m. as it became apparent Stewart would win.