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Curious about CT elections, amid a 'very odd situation' in Bridgeport? A CT Mirror reporter explains

Mark Pazniokas of the Connecticut Mirror at the Fine Arts Instructional Center (FAIC), on Eastern CT State University's campus in Willimantic, Connecticut October 04, 2022.
Joe Amon
Connecticut Public
Mark Pazniokas of the Connecticut Mirror at the Fine Arts Instructional Center (FAIC), on Eastern CT State University's campus in Willimantic, Connecticut Oct. 4, 2022.

Election Day 2023 is just around the corner, and with it comes a host of intriguing races and initiatives. Mark Pazniokas, the Capitol Bureau Chief and co-founder of the Connecticut Mirror, offered a preview of the races to watch.

Bridgeport controversy

The Bridgeport primary results have been a subject of controversy due to alleged mishandling of absentee ballots by supporters of incumbent Mayor Joe Ganim. After Democratic challenger John Gomes filed a lawsuit contesting Ganim’s win the September primary, a judge this week issued a ruling that nullified the primary results. Pazniokas shared, "[John Gomes] now has basically two chances to win. He is on the ballot Tuesday as an independent. If he does not win Tuesday, he has now the promise of a do-over." Pazniokas said. He explained the complexity of the situation, saying, "I think there's some confusion on the ground in Bridgeport about what it means that they threw out the primary. They didn't really throw out the primary for everybody, so there are a lot of down ballot seats at stake."

Some key races to watch

Pazniokas highlighted several races that stand out—starting with a rematch in Danbury. That’s where Republican Dean Esposito beat Democrat Robert Alves two years ago by 290 votes. The two face off again on Tuesday. Pazniokas wondered if the town would finally flip parties. "Democratic registration has been growing, and the demographics have changed a lot more racially and ethnically."

An open mayoral race in this coastal city is generating interest, with both political parties experiencing some turbulence. As Pazniokas comments, "We'll see what happens there."

Greenwich and Fairfield
These traditionally Republican strongholds are experiencing shifts in party dynamics, and down-ballot seats could change hands due to the evolving political climate. Pazniokas noted, "Fairfield County, once Upon a time, was a good solid Republican base that was eroding prior to Donald Trump's election, and it certainly accelerated since." Pazniokas adds, "People will be curious to see what happens in Greenwich and in Fairfield, given that the Republican brand has really not been helpful."

Several towns have ballot initiatives

Pazniokas mentioned a proposal in New Haven to extend the mayoral term from two to four years, saying, "There's a handful of cities that still have two-year terms, and the feeling has been that it really is too short." The proposed change aligns with a broader sentiment regarding the adequacy of two-year terms for chief executive positions. However, some New Haven residents have criticized the way the proposal has been phrased, saying the question to extend the mayor, alder and city clerk terms to four years is not spelled out in the way the measure will appear on the ballot: “Shall the City approve and adopt all other Charter changes as recommended by the Charter Revision Commission and approved by the Board of Alders?”

In Stamford there is also a charter question on the ballot. The question focuses on the oversight of development in the city. Pazniokas comments, "Stamford has done very well with economic development, and there's a little bit of blowback on a charter question there." The implications of this question have sparked controversy, and the mayor has taken steps to address the situation.

Learn more about how to vote and other key CT races

Click here for Connecticut Public’s guide to voting on Election Day 2023.

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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