—UPDATE—Despite Democratic hopes of a “Trump effect” voter backlash in 2017, Republican First Selectman Jamie Cosgrove sailed to a reelection victory in Branford Tuesday, winning six of the seven voting districts against Democratic challenger Lynda Mollow. He took 60 percent of the vote. The Republicans kept a strong majority on the Representative Town Meeting (RTM) as well. But the Dems took the competitive Tax Collector’s race.
Unofficial results came in around 8:30 p.m. with Cosgrove sweeping virtually all of the districts at a rate of 2 to 1 in some districts. Totals: Cosgrove, 4226 and Mollow, 2714. In 2015, the Republicans won five of the seven election districts in town: Districts 1, 4, 5, 6 and 7. In 2015, the Democrats won two districts, District 2 in Stony Creek and District 3 in Short Beach. In this election, the Dems kept Stony Creek by a slim margin, but lost Short Beach by 15 votes, according to early returns .
After the results were in, Mollow and Ahern went to the Republican election gathering at the American Legion headquarters where Mollow conceded the race, shaking Cosgrove’s hand.
Close Races Decided Today
Two races were too close to call last night but were later decided by absentee ballots.
In the RTM’s 3rd District, Short Beach, Attorney Peter Black, a long-serving Republican RTM member, won by two votes over Dawn Perrotti, a newcomer on the Republican side. Robin Comey and incumbent Peter Jackson took the Democratic RTM seats in the 3rd.
A similar reality was true for long serving Board of Education (BOE) member John Prins, who was in a tight race with a fellow Democrat, Sarah Lockery. Both were seeking six year terms. As the evening drew to a close, Prins led by only 10 votes over Lockery, who was running for the first time. But by this morning he won by 23 points after absentee ballots were counted. Shannon Sharkey and Judy Hotz, both Republican incumbents, won re-election to the BOE.
Cosgrove, now entering his third term in his office, told the Eagle he wants to continue what he’s been doing. “I think we’ve done a lot in the last four years and we will continue to move forward. We have a lot of things in progress, and we will continue that path.”
Unofficial breakdown by district:
District 1 – Mollow, 421; Cosgrove, 812
District 2 – Mollow, 393; Cosgrove, 385
District 3 – Mollow, 371; Cosgrove, 386
District 4 – Mollow, 436; Cosgrove, 613
District 5 – Mollow, 478; Cosgrove, 844
District 6 – Mollow, 317; Cosgrove, 662
District 7 – Mollow, 298; Cosgrove, 510.
In his victory speech, Cosgrove said, “It’s an honor to serve another term. We govern as part of a team and I want to thank everyone. It’s about Branford. Tonight the voters recognized the great work we have been doing and moving forward. Tomorrow we go back to governing as a team.” Here is Cosgrove pictured with his family.
Mollow said, “Today was one of the most challenging days, but one of the most enjoyable. There was a wonderful team feel. I’ve enjoyed getting to know everyone. We have a new party… we’ve all come together and have some good successes. We’re dipping our toes in and we’ll go deeper and stronger. I know you’ll all stay involved.”
The Democrats did score a win, with the election of Roberta Gill-Brooks as Tax Collector, She defeated Sandra Kraus by a vote of 3511 to 3313. Gill-Brooks is the first African-American woman ever to win elected office in Branford. As the news came that she won, the Dems erupted in cheers and applause and she and her father, retired Police Chief Bob Gill, hugged.
Bill Aniskovich (L), who spearheads Cosgrove’s campaigns and serves as the town attorney, said, “There was a lot going on in this race.” Aniskovich told the Eagle, who asked him if there was a Trump effect on the race. “Absolutely. Absolutely. You can see it in some of those numbers. You never can tell precisely what moves numbers, but I think that there were a lot of people out there who’ve been waiting 364 days to cast a vote. Sometimes in politics you have to navigate those waters.”
Ray Ingraham, the majority leader of the RTM and the chair of the Republican Town Committee, said of the team’s, win, “It feels really good.” He and his fellow Republican RTM incumbents in the 5th District retained their seats despite a strong Democratic ticket. However, Kraus, the Republican tax collector candidate, lost the 5th, her home district.
“We spent a lot of time working on our plan the last four years, and we really just ran on that,” said Ingraham. “We set a plan, we’re moving along, and we’re getting there.”