Although the majority of New Haven’s aldermanic races were decided in September’s primary, Tuesday still saw some contested elections.
Union-backed Jeanette Morrison, who defeated incumbent Greg Morehead in the Sept. 13 Democratic primary on a wave of support from Yale students, successfully fended off repeat challenger Cordelia Thorpe with a final vote tally of 302 to 92 to become Ward 22’s next alderman. Voter turnout, though, was significantly lower than during the primary campaign, in which 649 votes were cast, with 355 for Morrison and just four for Thorpe.
Morrison’s father, who worked for his daughter’s campaign, said that turnout to the Ward 22 polls had been slow for the entire day. Speaking from the Wexler-Grant School on Foote Street, Ward 22’s polling station, he estimated that no more than a dozen voters had turned up each hour over the course of the day. But he added that Yale students came out to vote as the evening went on.
One such late arrival was Morrison supporter JohnMark Taylor ’13, who said he headed to the polls after encouragement from the Yale College Democrats.
“I have some friends in the Yale Dems who let me know about it,” Taylor said.
The Yale Dems ran hourly shuttles to polls from Timothy Dwight and Silliman Colleges, although their get-out-the-vote operation in the ward was less thorough than during the primary election, in which volunteers drove Yalies to Wexler-Grant several times an hour.
Jonathon O’Leary ’15, another late-arriving Morrison supporter said he came to vote after speaking to a friend, adding that he supports Morrison because of her “responsibility and commitment to New Haven in general.”
Morrison, who organized a Dixwell clean-up last month that tidied up the main thoroughfare of Ward 22, pinned the low turnout on the high-stakes primary and the prevalence of absentee voting.
“I’ve heard a lot of positive feedback and seen a lot of familiar faces,” Morrison said. “The primary was such a success, and people have told me that they liked the community clean-up.”
Thorpe, who showed up to the primary with relatively little support, came prepared this time. Her supporters at the polls were more than double those of Morrison’s, and she sat at a table filled with campaign literature, which included a picture of Thorpe with civil rights leader Jesse Jackson and a letter from State Sen. Toni Harp, who represents New Haven, to “show that [Thorpe] is well-connected.”
Thorpe said she did not know how the race’s numbers looked, but said that she had seen many of her supporters come out to vote.
“Democracy is running its course,” Thorpe said. “I’m just working hard. Hopefully it will pay off.”
Trumbull College chef Frank Douglass, who like Morrison was backed by Yale unions, ran unopposed in Tuesday’s race for Ward 2 alderman, having won decisively in the primary with more than double the votes of his competitor Doug Bethea. But Douglass, who spent the day at the polls “for the people,” said that the lack of competition had not affected turnout, adding that the number of voters was similar to what he had experienced in the primary.
Douglass also said the Ward 2 Town Committee “disenfranchised” him after they learned that he was supporting mayoral candidate Jeffrey Kerekes, who lost in the four-way Democratic primary to mayor John DeStefano Jr. The Ward Committee, Douglass said, reproduced new voter cards halfway through Election Day that removed his picture and name from the cards.
Douglass and Morrison are two of 18 aldermen who will be new to the Board in January.
This includes union-backed Barbara Constantinople and City Hall-supported Carlton Staggers, who defeated incumbents Maureen O’Sullivan-Best and Darnell Goldson in Wards 11 and 30, respectively. In Ward 26, meanwhile, incumbent Sergio Rodriguez successfully fended off challenger Darryl Brackeen Jr. on Tuesday.
Morrison and Douglass said they celebrated the day’s victories with their supporters at Kudeta along with Sarah Eidelson ’12, who defeated Vinay Nayak ’14 in the race for Ward 1 alderman.