Roses For Rae

Paul Bass PhotoA 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.”

A party for Tramantano will take place at Anthony’s Ocean View from 6 to 9 p.m. on July 31. Tickets cost $50; contact Elser .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) for more information. Meanwhile, Tramantano said she plans to “do the retirement thing”: travel, spend time with family, “go to the Mohegans and play the penny machines.” And if she gets a call from her old pals at 200 Orange St. for help in a hectic election? “I might come in, if they need me.”

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posted by: mrigoulot on July 1, 2013  9:59am

What an awesome story and tribute to my Mom on her retirement. She is a legacy in her own right and I know she will be missed in the Registrar of Voters Office and others. She is definitely a one of a kind woman. Congratulations to Delores Knight on becoming the new Republican Registrar of Voters.Thank you to Paul Bass on this great story.

posted by: Brian L. Jenkins on July 1, 2013  12:37pm

The accolades that Rae receives are indeed apropos. 

I had the distinct pleasure and privilege as a candidate and voter registration coordinator for the Democrats for the Future organization, to at times acquire the assistance from Rae, often. 

The aforementioned description of Rae’s willingness to be helpful to everyone regardless of political party, is very accurate.

Let me go a little further, on many occasions, I found both Rae and Delores (as Republicans), to be more hospitable/professional than did I the Democrats working in the registrars office. 

I wish you well Rae!