CT cities, towns gear up for local elections - WFSB 3 Connecticut

CT cities, towns gear up for local elections

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(WFSB file photo) (WFSB file photo)
HARTFORD, CT (AP) -

Cities and towns across Connecticut are gearing up for municipal elections, where candidates ranging from mayor to school board will appear on Tuesday's ballot.

There are about 2.1 million total active registered voters in the state. Of those, there are 861,766 unaffiliated voters, 771,412 Democrats and 453,625 Republicans.

Voter turnout is typically low for municipal elections, roughly 30 percent. However, Secretary of the State Denise Merrill says this year could be different given the strong interest in some races.

Merrill says her staff recently met with the State Elections Enforcement Commission and Federal Bureau of Investigation in advance of Tuesday's election. She says voters and local election officials can report any Election Day problems by calling a hotline at 866-733-2463.

Turnout could be steady in a few Connecticut towns where there are close races

On Tuesday, voters in West Haven will decide between three candidates including the current mayor who is running as a write in after losing the primary in September. West Haven Mayor Ed O’Brien is going against Dave Riccio, who is the Republican candidate, and Nancy Rossi, who won the Democratic primary by 136 votes. 

In Bristol, incumbent mayor Ken Cockayne, who is a Republican, came under fire for posting inappropriate photos of a relative. The posting started as a family feud, but ended up on social media and became an issue in his re-election.

"We are in good shape now, but going forward we know the state will be a continued mess and that's why we need experienced leadership," Cockayne said. 

His challenger is Democrat Ellen Zoppo-Sassu and said she plans to "protect taxpayers."

"We need to grow our tax base, bringing in new businesses and homeowners and protecting property values are the priorities," Zoppo-Sassu said. 

In Stamford, it’s a three way race between Democratic incumbent David Martin, who is being challenged by Republican Barry Michelson and the independent candidate John Zito.

In Derby, it’s been a struggle for incumbent Mayor Anita Dugatto, who is a Democrat who did not get the endorsement of her town committee but she did win the primary. Dugatto is being challenged by Republican Richard Zeke Dziekan, who is a former police officer.

In New Britain, incumbent Mayor Erin Stewart is seeking her third term and her reelection bid in 2014 led to a stunning republican victory across the ballot.

Her Democratic challenger Merrill Gay is attacking Stewart in a campaign ad over the city's debt service and causing Moody's investors to downgrade the city's bond rating.

"The problem is she has based solving everything on borrowed money and it's short term borrowing and didn't pay debt for the past two years,” Gay said.

Stewart said when she took office, New Britain was on the verge of bankruptcy.

"We had a 30-million-dollar deficit, now a 15 million surplus,” Stewart said. “We are not perfect but we are on a path to a sustainable future."

Joseph Santopietro has lived much of his life in Waterbury, but he also has a troubled past.  

“It's always important,” Santopietro said. “It’s part of my life and I am not proud of it."

While he was the city's mayor, Santopietro was arrested at the end of his third term and convicted on 18 counts for things such as stealing money while in office.

After spending six years locked up and released Santopietro was in trouble again and this time in a trash hauling scheme.

“They will vote and I am listening that's what I am asking for,” Santopietro said.

Polls will be open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. To see all the town ballots, click here

Copyright 2016 WFSB (Meredith Corporation). The Associated Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved.