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Following recount, CT alderman facing charges in Jan. 6 riot wins GOP mayoral primary

Derby Republican mayoral candidate Gino DiGiovanni chats with supporters after polling stations closed in the town's primary on September 12, 2023. DiGiovanni currently faces federal charges for being at the Capitol on Jan. 6.
Eddy Martinez
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Connecticut Public
Derby Republican mayoral candidate Gino DiGiovanni chats with supporters after polling stations closed in the town's primary on September 12, 2023. DiGiovanni currently faces federal charges for being at the Capitol on Jan. 6.

Gino DiGiovanni, Jr., an alderman who is currently facing federal charges for trespassing at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, won the Republican mayoral primary in Derby following a recount on Friday.

DiGiovanni won the recount by 10 votes over incumbent Republican mayor, Richard Dziekan.

DiGiovanni said he would abide by the results if he loses the election in November.

"Well yeah, I’m not an election denier," DiGiovanni said. "I never said that. Why wouldn't I?"

On Tuesday, DiGiovanni received 202 votes and Dziekan got 192. Races decided by less than 20 votes trigger an automatic recount under state law. City Clerk Marc Garofalo presided over the recount, which upheld the results from Tuesday night with no changes to vote counts.

DiGiovanni, 42, was elected as an alderman 10 months after the attack. While he has acknowledged being at the Capitol on Jan. 6, he’s denied any wrongdoing. He was photographed in the Capitol Rotunda, after allegedly entering the building through a side door.

While he is not the first participant in the Capitol riot who has sought elected office, if elected, DiGiovanni could become one of the first in the nation to become an elected official.

When asked why he trusts the local electoral process, DiGiovanni said there are safeguards in place.

"The ballots are on the table, they counted them all out. I mean, there's not much more, you can't get much more transparent than that," he said.

The ballot tabulation process is not unique to Derby and while different states have different voting tabulation procedures in place,all states have to maintain rigorous record keeping with multiple points of verification.

But the race in Derby, a small city about 10 miles west of New Haven, is far from settled.

DiGiovanni will face a challenge in November from Democrat Joe DiMartino, who previously ran for mayor in 2021. Meanwhile, Dziekan, the incumbent, said he would continue to run as a candidate in the general election, sparking concerns among the city’s Republican Town Committee, which endorsed DiGiovanni, that the GOP vote could be split. Another candidate, Sharlene McEvoy, is also running as a petitioning candidate.

After initial vote tallies on Tuesday showed Dziekan losing to DiGiovanni, DiMartino issued a statement criticizing the incumbent for losing support of city residents and calling on the city to vote for him. The Democrat, who was DiGiovanni’s wrestling coach in high school, did not mention his current GOP opponent.

But state Democratic leaders were more direct about their opposition to DiGiovanni.

“Across the country, voters are facing a choice this fall between MAGA extremists, and democracy and the rule of law. In Derby that choice could not be more stark," Nancy DiNardo, chair of the Connecticut Democratic Party, said in a statement.

"Connecticut Democrats will support Derby Democrats, and we’ll help in any way we can to elect Joe DiMartino in November. I am confident voters will reject a candidate who doesn’t know right from wrong, and choose a leader who can focus on the needs of the city.”

DiGiovanni has cleared one hurdle by winning the GOP primary, but is approaching another even if he wins the general election in November. He still faces legal action from the federal government for his alleged role on Jan. 6 and is scheduled to attend a hearing on his case shortly after the election.

DiGiovanni previously said he isn’t sure if any legal issues could impact his ability to govern if he wins in November.

But if he were tried and convicted for misdemeanor charges, its unclear what could happen to city government functions. Garofalo said it really depends on the context. If the city's mayor is unable to perform his or her duties, the President of the Board of Aldermen and Alderwomen would take over. The current head of the board is a Democrat.

Yet a vacancy could change things according to him.

"If there was a Republican mayor and the Republican mayor resigned, then the Republican members of the Board of Aldermen would appoint a successor," Garofalo said.

Gino DiGiovanni Jr. (lower right, facing left) appears outside the U.S. Capitol, Jan. 6, 2021, in a screenshot from a video used as evidence by the Department of Justice in their case against Nicholas DeCarlo. DiGiovanni later entered the Capitol through the Upper West Terrace door.
Provided Photograph
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Department of Justice
Gino DiGiovanni Jr. (lower right, facing left) appears outside the U.S. Capitol, January 06, 2021, in a screenshot from a video used as evidence by the Department of Justice in their case against Nicholas DeCarlo. DiGiovanni later entered The Capitol through the Upper West Terrace door.

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