By just eight votes, incumbent Greg Morehead won Tuesday’s Democratic primary, beating out Lisa Hopkins and Cordelia Thorpe for the Ward 22 aldermanic seat.
Morehead, the candidate backed by Mayor John DeStefano Jr., won 50 percent of the vote, or 224 of the 445 ballots cast. Lisa Hopkins, who was backed by State Rep. Gary Holder-Winfield, garnered 216 votes, or 49 percent of the vote. There were five votes for Ward 22 Democratic Committee Co-Chair Cordelia Thorpe.
Speaking over the phone from Yorkside Pizza, Morehead said he was exhausted but satisfied with the outcome of the election. He said he had been particularly worried because several unions had chosen to support Hopkins over him, but he called the results of the vote “a testament that I have a lot of support from the residents.”
“I’m really at a loss for words, just because this race has been more tense than any other I’ve ever run in,” Morehead said.
This is the third time that Morehead, Hopkins and Thorpe have faced off in aldermanic elections, and since they began running against each other, Hopkins has steadily gained popularity within the constituency, while Thorpe has fallen out of favor. In April 2007, all three candidates ran for a special election to replace former Ward 22 alderman Drew King — Morehead won 243 votes, Thorpe won 108 and Hopkins won 57. Then, in the September 2007 Democratic primary, Morehead won again, but his margin of victory decreased: He won 204 votes, Hopkins won 98 votes and Thorpe garnered 23.
Even in light of the close race this time around, Hopkins said Tuesday night that she would not in change anything about the way she conducted her campaign. During the course of the election, both she and Morehead canvassed heavily in residential colleges and participated in a candidate forum in the Timothy Dwight common room sponsored by New Haven Action.
“I’m very proud of all our volunteers, I’m proud of how the community came out, and I’m proud that I was a part of that,” Hopkins said.
Reached by phone Tuesday night, Thorpe said she had no comment about the results.
Polls closed at Wexler/Grant Community School at 8 p.m., but the final election results were not announced until a few minutes past 10 p.m. While ballots submitted in-person left Morehead with a 14-vote lead over Hopkins, supporters of both candidates waited for two hours at 200 Orange St. as staffers from the Registrar of Voters counted the 82 absentee ballots submitted in the race.
Tuesday night, Hopkins said she was waiting for a recount of the ballots before she cedes victory; there were “quite a few discrepancies,” she said, where her supporters arrived at the polling place to vote but were turned away. She said an automatic recount will take place sometime in the next 10 days.
Morehead said he had not heard whether there would be a recount, and did not understand the need for one; he said the only discrepancies of which he had heard involved individuals who did not live in Ward 22 but wanted to vote.
For the most part, things at the Wexler/Grant Community School ran smoothly, said Eula Ward, who directed the polling place operation. The only problems she noticed involved Ward 22 residents who arrived at the polling place to vote in the Democratic primary, even though they were registered Independents. One hundred and twenty more people cast ballots during this primary than during the previous one in 2007.
Laynie Johnson ’12, who lives in Silliman College, said she thinks the higher turnout could be attributed to the attention brought to crime by the murder of Annie Le MED ’13 at the University’s medical campus.
“I feel like there’s been a bigger turnout because of Annie Le, because people are thinking more about issues dealing with safety and New Haven,” Johnson said.
But Ward maintained that turnout today did not hold a candle to the number of people who voted in polling stations around the city during last November’s election: “Anything after last year would be anticlimactic,” Ward said.
In other aldermanic electi0ns, Yale union-backed Ward 28 candidate Claudette Robinson-Thorpe won Tuesday’s primary, besting incumbent Mordechai Sandman by 19 votes. There was no Ward 1 Democratic primary; Mike Jones ’11 won the Ward 1 Democratic endorsement vote last April.