Tie Vote Emerges for District 1 RTM Seat

Marcia Chambers PhotoAn election recount today between two first-time candidates for the RTM in the First District was a stunner with each emerging the winner.The first district is located in heart of town. 

Michele Sember and Jessica Buchanan, both Democrats, were within one vote of each other (Buchanan at 572 and Sember at 571) when they arrived at the Registrar of Voters Office today at 9 a.m.

Marcia Chambers PhotoFour hours later, when John Mooney (L-seated), the head election moderator, announced the outcome, their one vote difference became a tie vote with each arriving at 573 votes. Sember went up two votes; Buchanan went up one. 

“How this is resolved I do not know,” Mooney said.

A third candidate requiring a recount was current Republican RTM member George David Wells who won 576 votes, a number that put him near to Sember and Buchanan. State law typically requires a recount if a candidate is within 20 votes of another. Today Wells gained one vote in the recount, bringing him to 577. He won his seat.

But what about the draw? 

Town Clerk Lisa Arpin pulled out a statute book. But there was no immediate answer. Another election? Doubtful. Drawing the winner by pulling a rabbit out the hat?  You know, the magical way? That might be it. Someone remembered it had happened that way in the past, perhaps under directive of the Town Charter. In the end, Arpin said she would contact the Connecticut Secretary of State’s Office on Monday to determine the final answer. 

Co-Serving on the RTM?

Semper had an idea: “I am hoping we can do it together,” she said of herself and Buchanan. I am hoping we can do a co-RTM seat for us. We could serve every other month. I would recommend that.” Buchanan smiled. “It was a tie…. I am excited to see what happens.”

Mooney, who oversaw the recount, along with Marion E. Burkard, Republican Registrar of Voters and Dan Hally, Democratic Registrar of Voters and 15 other election officials, gathered to re-examine the voting sheets and absentee ballots connected to the RTM District 1 race. They met at the Registrar of Voters office on Kirkham Street this morning.   

The recount centered on the original 1,247 District 1 ballots cast by voters on Election Day for the RTM seats. There was also a recanvas of the 48 absentee ballots and the one Election Day vote. The ballots were all put through a counting machine. Election moderators from the election districts (there are seven in Branford) worked studiously for four hours.

Everyone connected with the official recount concluded Sember and Buchanan had tied. The candidates took the outcome with grace. 

Marcia Chambers PhotoEight candidates ran for six seats from the First District. The top vote getter was longtime Republican RTM member Frank Twohill, who brought in 680 votes. He was followed by Republican RTM member Jennifer Zambrano with 671 votes. Zambrano is pictured here standing with Wells.

Wells was delighted. “I am honored to serve again,” he told the Eagle. “I am glad it worked out the way it did. I am curious to see how the rest of it goes. I am sure however it sorts itself out will be fine,” he said as he looked at the two potential RTM members in waiting.

There was another close race for the RTM. In the Third District in Short Beach, Republican Peter Black, a longtime member of the RTM, drew 325 votes. Newcomer Dawn Perrotti, also running on the Republican ticket, drew 323 votes. Perrotti had the option for a recount, but decided against it. 


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