Standing on a chair and looking down at the crowd of supporters filling the back room of the Playwright, a pub on Temple Street, Mayor John DeStefano Jr. took in yet another mayoral victory Tuesday evening.
DeStefano received an unsurprising victory in Tuesday’s mayoral election, winning 74.5 percent of the vote to beat independent challengers Angela Watley, Henri Sumner and Ralph Ferrucci. Across the city, voter turn out was 17.6 percent, down from 22 percent in 2007.
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“America needs places like this that are able to work together to solve problems,” DeStefano said as the city’s Chief Administrative Officer Robert Smuts ’01 received the election results.
Campaign signs adorned the walls, multi-colored balloons floated in the air, and DeStefano led a rousing chant about New Haven’s plans for education reform.
What city is going to cut the drop-out rate and reduce the achievement gap, DeStefano asked the crowd.
“New Haven,” the crowded room shouted back.
City aldermen, DeStefano’s campaign staff and other supporters celebrated at the Playwright and watched the results of the mayoral and aldermanic elections appear on a spreadsheet projected in the front of the room. Rock songs such as Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’” and U2’s “Beautiful Day” blasted in the background. When DeStefano saw that Justin Elicker FES ’10 SOM ’10 had won in Ward 10 he gave a shout of approval.
For his ninth campaign, DeStefano put his plans for education reform front and center. In an interview Nov. 1, the mayor’s campaign manager, Keya Jayaram, said DeStefano’s campaign sent out mailings, posted signs, ran phone banking and went door-to-door. Tuesday evening, Jayaram called the election results “amazing.”
But they were not a surprise. Board of Aldermen President Carl Goldfield said in an interview Tuesday that the other mayoral candidates were not serious.
“It would have been the upset of the century,” Goldfield said at the Playwright.
Still, Ferrucci said Tuesday at the Ward 10 polling station at Wilbur Cross High School on Mitchell Drive that a number of people told him they had voted for him.
“It ought to be an interesting race this year,” he said before polls closed.
DeStefano also stopped by the Ward 10 polling station Tuesday afternoon to talk to voters and campaign workers. He said he was trying to hit most of the city’s polling stations.
“It’s not heavy voter persuasion,” he told the News.
Watley declined to comment Tuesday evening. Sumner’s phone number seemed to be disconnected after several calls Tuesday night.
Throughout Election Day, election officials said polls across the city remained fairly empty; this year there were few contested aldermanic races.
Yolanda McIver, moderator for the Ward 7 polling station at the Hall of Records on 200 Orange St., said at about 10 a.m. that she expected turnout to be low.
“It’s not really an important election,” she said. “No one’s really being challenged.”
Robert Klopp, a freelance artist and photographer, also said he voted simply because he is a citizen, adding that he thinks DeStefano is doing a good job.
Duane Isabella, University Chaplain Sharon Kugler’s husband, said that while he did not know about the other candidates running for mayor, he wanted to vote because it was his first time to do so in New Haven and he wanted to support the mayor.
DeStefano was first elected as the mayor of New Haven in 1993. He is a lifelong resident of New Haven.
In his ninth term, DeStefano will aim to implement his agenda for education reform. At press time, Secretary of State Susan Bysiewicz ’83 had yet to certify the vote tallies.
Jordi Gassó contributed reporting.