A bouquet appeared Friday afternoon on the counter where New Haveners usually show up to register to vote—to offer sweet gratitude and future wishes for a woman who spent decades diligently shepherding the citizenry’s fundamental democratic right.
There was cake, too, to mark the retirement of Republican Registrar of Voters Rae Tramantano. Tramantano, who is 73 and one of the kindest people you’ll ever meet in government, worked in the registrar’s office for 33 years. Her send-off was one of many throughout city government last week, an annual rite as veterans retire on the last day of a fiscal year. (Click here and here to read about the retirements of two other dedicated public servants, the City Plan Department’s Tony Bialecki and Joy Ford.)
Tramantano (at left in photo) spent the last 24 years in one of the two top positions in the registrar’s office, alongside Democratic Registrar Sharon Ferrucci (at right). They worked long, long hours updating voter lists, processing new voters, tracking down those who moved, and most of all overseeing the commotion-wracked extra-duty poll-watching and vote-counting on primary and general election days. They were a model of bipartisan good-government cooperation, not to mention good humor; it’s still a mystery why the producers of Cagney & Lacey never did a Ferrucci and Tramantano spin-off. Ferrucci was choked up Friday at the prospect of coming in to work without “my buddy, my friend, my sister.”
Republican Town Chair Richter Elser was on hand for the party, recalling the countless times Tramanto reminded him not to burn bridges with his fellow party members who went off the right-wing deep end. “‘You’re Republican. They’re Republicans. You can’t make fun of them,’” he recalled her saying. “She has been incredible at preventing me from putting my foot in my mouth.”
Veteran registrar’s office employee Delores Knight (pictured with great-grandson Jair Mathis) is moving up to replace Tramantano as Republican registrar. She wasn’t thinking about that on Friday. Here’s what she said was going through her mind: “I’m missing her so much.”