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Big changes can result from slender election wins

By Jeffery Kurz

The 2022 election provided a compelling example of the importance of voting. Following a recount of a six-vote lead, Democrat Chris Poulos won the 81st House district seat by a single vote, over Republican Tony Morrison.

As a Record-Journal editorial on Nov. 17 that year noted, “each of those 5,297 votes for Poulos has a claim to being the deciding vote, putting him over the 5,296 tallied for Morrison.” There was also an intriguing image spurred by an observation made by the chairman of the Republican Town Committee, of a hand-count ballot that put a pen mark on Morrison but then circled Poulos.

Nothing quite as dramatic happened in this year’s election, but something almost as dramatic did. A recount that lasted six hours and a review of 7,973 ballots reduced an already slim lead held by Michael Cardona over Meriden’s incumbent City Clerk Denise Grandy, but the six additional votes tallied for Grandy were not enough to keep the Republican from succeeding in her re-election bid.

“I’m going to sail off into the sunset,” said Grandy, following the recount. Cardona, the Democratic city councilor and deputy mayor, thus becomes the new city clerk by a margin of less than .05 percent of the votes cast, a margin that had triggered the recount. As the R-J noted, “Cardona said he is the first minority to hold the city clerk position, and possibly the first male in the role since the 1960s.”

In other words, voting makes a big difference. In early October, Poulos announced that his request for $5 million for the new public library in Southington had been approved by the State Bond Commission. The additional funding was like a rescue operation for the library project. Voters had approved spending $17 million, but because of cost increases the project had to be scaled back. The new funding will help increase space and enable upgrades, and give voters something closer to what they’d had in mind in the first place.

Perhaps Morrison would have done the same, or other possibilities would have led to an improved project, but Poulos got it done — and a single vote helped make that possible.

As recent R-J coverage has noted, Cardona had campaigned this year on the promise that the web site for the city clerk would “be translatable to any language using a Google translate button similar to the one used by Meriden Public Schools.”

Thanks to his win by an extremely slender margin, we get to see how those plans will work out.

It’s not just close calls that make a difference, of course. The recent election sent Wallingford on a new path, with Republican Vinny Cervoni about to become the first new mayor in 40 years. If he lasts as long as his predecessor, William W. Dickinson Jr., Cervoni will still be mayor in 2063. While that doesn’t seem likely, it probably didn’t seem likely in 1984 either.

Back in Meriden, there were also signs of endurance, including a fifth-term win for Mayor Kevin Scarpati and yet another victory for City Councilor Michael Rohde, who is also a former mayor. We’ll also get to gauge the implications of a narrowed Democratic majority on the council.

So, yes, your vote counts. Get it ready for 2024.

Reach Jeffery Kurz at jkurz@record-journal.com.








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