Democrat John DeStefano, Jr. swept all 30 New Haven wards, surprising even himself with the extent of his 80 percent victory in yesterday’s mayoral election.
DeStefano trounced Republican Kevin Skiest 16,396 votes to 4,148 votes, gaining a larger margin of victory than Mayor John Daniels, Jr. enjoyed in his two victories in 1989 and 1991.
Less than 14 percent of the registered voters turned out in Yale’s First Ward, which includes eight residential colleges and Old Campus. Those who voted in Dwight Hall gave DeStefano a 181 to 40 victory.
The mayor-elect called his landslide a victory for hope in the Elm City and pledged to speak for all New Haven’s neighborhoods.
“I didn’t think we’d do as well as we did,” DeStefano said after his acceptance speech. “People really connected with the positive message.”
28 aldermen, state legislators, Daniels and his three predecessors packed the Toad’s Place stage from which DeStefano delivered his upbeat, 10-minute acceptance speech.
DeStefano waited for the climax in the blaring John Philip Sousa victory march before bursting out from the on-stage crowd.
“I believe to the root of my soul that cities, in all their glorious diversity … and despite intolerable poverty, represent the best aspiration and hope of all people,” DeStefano said to the loudest cheers from the crowd of 300 supporters.
The 36 percent citywide voter turnout buoyed some local politicians who said good weather brought more people to the polls than they expected.
But DeStefano addressed apathetic residents who he said do not believe government can help them.
He extended his hand to “the far too many of you who did not vote at all,” asking all residents “to believe … I intend to represent you with every measure of strength I have.”
DeStefano called New Haven’s Democratic aldermen onstage with him his “partners,” and enlisted their help to heal New Haven.
“Unless we can work together we will fail the people of this city utterly,” he said to the aldermen who blame legislative gridlock on their disintegrated relationship with Daniels.
All the aldermen interviewed at Toad’s said they believed DeStefano sincerely wants to work with the Board and celebrated a chance to work with, not against, City Hall.
Board President Tomas Reyes (D-4) said DeStefano’s victory “will herald a new era of cooperation” between the Board and the mayor.
“You will have government working, and when government works, projects get implemented,” Reyes said.
DeStefano opened and ended his acceptance speech with quotations from former Yale President Bart Giamatti, a “signal” that he seeks to work with the Yale community, Alderman Mike Morand (D-1) said.