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Week in CT news: Voters head to the polls, vaccine season ramps up

A voter in New Haven is surprised when her ballot entered the machine after making a loud noise. The machine was having issues moments before.
Ayannah Brown
Connecticut Public
A voter in New Haven is surprised when her ballot entered the machine after making a loud noise. The machine was having issues moments before.

Danbury, Hartford and Waterbury mayoral elections were decided Tuesday. But Bridgeport is still up in the air.

Danbury Democrats are partying like it’s 1999 – the last time they won a mayoral election in the Hat City.

Gene Eriquez was the last Democrat in the city to win a mayoral election. And then, beginning when Mark Boughton won in 2001, Republicans captured the next 11 elections. But now, after defeating Dean Esposito in a rematch of the 2021 election, Roberto Alves will be the first Danbury Democratic mayor in more than two decades.

Democrats also won open mayoral races in Hartford and Waterbury. Arunan Arulampalam is the next mayor of the capital city. The 38-year-old Hartford Land Bank CEO takes over for Luke Bronin after defeating a Republican, a write-in candidate, and several petitioning hopefuls.

In Waterbury, the Brass City, Board of Aldermen president Paul Pernerewski, a Democrat, was tapped to replace Neil O’Leary, who's retiring. Pernerewski beat Republican Dawn Maiorano and petitioning candidates Karen Jackson and Keisha Gilliams.

While other major cities have the race for mayor sorted out — including in New Haven, where Justin Elicker was re-elected again — Bridgeport’s messy mayoral situation won’t be resolved until at least a second Democratic primary election is held.

Incumbent mayor Joe Ganim, a Democrat, was the top vote-getter Tuesday. But challenger John Gomes, also a Democrat, got a local judge to throw out the results of a September primary after a video surfaced alleging ballot-stuffing in the Park City.

A date for the new primary hadn’t been announced as of midday Thursday.

Danbury is an example of a big night for local Democrats

Alves’ streak-busting win, plus Democrats gaining a supermajority and flipping city clerk, underscored a big blue night in Danbury.

First selectman flips in Brookfield and potentially in Fairfield, where a recount will be held to determine if Democrat Bill Gerber truly beat incumbent Brenda Kupchick, demonstrate gains in Connecticut at-large for Democrats.

A blue wave appears to have made it to the Connecticut shoreline as Democrats gained ground in places like Groton, Killingworth and Old Lyme.

One town that’s experiencing a major political shift: Killingly. Ginny Monk of the Connecticut Mirror reports that for four years, Killingly’s school board was controlled by ultra-conservative members of the Republican party. They got on the school board in the fall of 2019 to restore the name of a mascot deemed offensive by Native Americans.

Along the way, students say they became collateral damage as the conservative board rejected a grant-funded plan to establish a mental health center inside Killingly High School.

But as state education officials continue to examine the way Killingly’s school board addressed student mental health, Democrats in the town have taken back the school board.

Democrats will hold a 5-to-4 majority after Tuesday’s election where six of nine seats were up for grabs.

CT is touting vaccinations as state begins to feel the impact of flu season

As of Thursday, three people have died from influenza and RSV this week in Connecticut — the first ones of the season.

State public health officials are pointing to the deaths in urging residents to get vaccinated to combat the spread of influenza, RSV and COVID-19.

“The 2023-24 respiratory viral disease season is already an active one,” Connecticut Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Manisha Juthani said in a statement. “As we approach the holidays, I strongly encourage all Connecticut residents to make sure they are up to date on their seasonal vaccines, particularly older individuals and those with multiple medical conditions.”

Two residents have died from RSV, also known as respiratory syncytial virus. And one has died of the flu.

State health officials encourage various people to get RSV shots, including those who are pregnant, infants and adults who are 60 and older.

Frankie & Johnny premieres Fridays at 4:44 p.m. during All Things Considered on Connecticut Public Radio. Connecticut Public’s Matt Dwyer, Patrick Skahill, and Sujata Srinivasan contributed to this report. 

Frankie Graziano is the host of The Wheelhouse, focusing on how local and national politics impact the people of Connecticut.
John Henry Smith is Connecticut Public’s host of All Things Considered, its flagship afternoon news program. He's proud to be a part of the team that won a regional Emmy Award for The Vote: A Connecticut Conversation. In his 21st year as a professional broadcaster, he’s covered both news and sports.

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