"I Can't Complain If I'm Not Willing To Take Part": Primaries Underway Across The State
Voters in two dozen Connecticut communities are at the polls today to choose candidates to run for mayor and other top municipal posts. Polling places are open until 8:00pm this evening.
The highest profile contests will be the Democratic primaries in Bridgeport, Hartford and New Haven, which may well decide control of those cities. But there are further Democratic primaries in six other towns, notably Middletown, where incumbent Dan Drew is stepping down.
Voter Jeannette Parrett who cast her ballot in Middletown said she has a specific mission for the next mayor.
“I’d like them to concentrate on the senior population," said Parrett. "I really feel that seniors at a certain age should have their taxes frozen. Middletown is very pricey and all we seem to get are restaurants and parking meters.”
Meanwhile Steven Bonin was voting with other things on his mind.
“I want a candidate that would be sensitive to union issues, especially to homecare workers, when it comes to funding the homecare workers through the state of Connecticut,” he said.
At the same polling place, Linda Choser said she was disappointed that Drew is stepping down, but she felt it was important to come out to help choose his replacement.
"I can't complain about anything if I'm not willing to take part in, at least, the process," she said. "I just want somebody taking office who is honest, has integrity, who will show up."
In Hartford, incumbent Luke Bronin has two challenges, from state representative Brandon McGee and from former mayor Eddie Perez.
Monique Williams was voting in the South End.
"I think they're only focusing on one part of town," she said, urging the candidates to invest in urban renewal across the city. "A better neighborhood, cleaner, more things for the kids to do."
Rhonda Little relocated to Hartford from her home town of Bloomfield. She said there's no shortage of problems to fix.
"There's a really bad drug issue in the City of Hartford -- it really has to be addressed," she said. "There's a lot of homelessness. There's a rat problem that needs to be addressed. Garbage left on city streets -- and it's not the people that live there that are doing the dumping."
In New Haven, Sheila Gatison was choosing between incumbent mayor Toni Harp and her challenger, Justin Elicker.
"There's numerous things that need to be done around here, that haven't been done," she said. "I've talked to both of them. Housing, the cost of housing. We really need to buckle down on affordable housing."
Meanwhile Morganna Payne wants to see more attention paid to the city's public schools.
"I see that there are a lot of children just sort of lost," said said. "I think anything that we can do to take the children off the street and give them a vision of the future, will benefit the entire community."
Schools were also a theme in Bridgeport, where Joe Ganim is seeking re-election against a challenge from state senator Marilyn Moore.
Janell Jefferson has lived in city her whole life. Now as a mother to a 6-year-old son, she wants to see Bridgeport put more funding into the schools.
She's also worried about increased violence within the city. "I've been fortunate to live in a nicer side of Bridgeport--on the Trumbull-Bridgeport line--so nothing really happens here, but the surrounding area has gotten worse as time has passed and we need someone who is really going to crack down, not just say what they're planning on doing just to get a vote."
Aside from the high-profile Democratic contests in the major cities, Republicans also go to the polls in fourteen towns spread across the state.
Unlike in general elections, there is no election day registration, so residents who aren't registered to vote, or who are not members of one of the two parties, won't be able to cast a ballot.
Turnout for primaries historically has been light, but in case there are lines, the Secretary of the State’s office issued a statement saying registered voters already in line to vote at 8 p.m., when the polls close, will be allowed to cast their ballot.
The Secretary of the State and the state Elections Enforcement Commission are jointly running an election day hotline for voters encountering any problems. The number is 866-733-2463
Additional reporting by Frankie Graziano, Vanessa De La Torre and Nicole Leonard.
This story has been updated.