Six of the eight Democratic primaries across the city resulted in incumbent victories.
In addition to Ward 1 — where incumbent Sarah Eidelson ’12 won the Democratic nomination over challenger Fish Stark ’17 — seven other wards held aldermanic primaries Wednesday: Ward 11 (Fair Haven Heights), Ward 12 (Quinnipiac Meadows), Ward 14 (Fair Haven), Ward 18 (Morris Cove), Ward 20 (Newhallville), Ward 28 (Beaver Hills) and Ward 30 (West Rock). UNITE HERE Local 34, Yale’s technical and office workers’ union, had prominent influence in the primary elections, with all six of the union-backed candidates emerging victorious.
“I’m very proud of the support of Local 34,” Beaver Hills’ victor Jill Marks said. “It was definitely a positive moment for me when they decided to support my candidacy.”
Marks defeated Claudette Robinson-Thorpe, who had the support of Mayor Toni Harp and State Senator Gary Winfield, by a margin of 64 votes in the closest race of the day.
The atmosphere at Hillhouse High School, Ward 28’s polling place, was noticeably tense. Marks and Robinson-Thorpe each set up camp outside the high school and made last minute efforts to convince voters to vote for them as they headed to the polls. All Ward 28 voters interviewed declined to comment on whom they supported, noting that they knew both candidates well.
“I’m being a little bombarded by my opponent here, but it is what it is,” Robinson-Thorpe said during voting hours.
Shortly after results were revealed in Ward 1, Dwight Alder Frank Douglass, Jr. declared to Eidelson that Marks had won in Beaver Hills. His announcement was met with cheers and applause.
“I’ve known Jill Marks for many years,” said Westville alder Adam Marchand GRD ’99, who spent the day canvassing for the Ward 28 challenger in Beaver Hills. “She’s hardworking and passionate and always puts the people of the city first.”
Douglass told the News that he looks forward to engaging with Marks’ perspective on bolstering youth services in the city. With the board’s support, she will bring the change that the city needs, Douglass said.
While the race in Beaver Hills was the closest, the other race in which a challenger bested an incumbent candidate was the most lopsided victory in the city. In Quinnipiac Meadows, Gerald Antunes, who has formerly served as Quinnipiac Meadows alder, topped incumbent Richard Spears by 167 votes to 39, taking over 81 percent of the total vote.
Quinnipiac Meadows also saw the second lowest voter turnout, with only 206 residents casting ballots. The lowest turnout of the day was in the West Rock primary between incumbent Carlton Staggers and challenger Robert Anderson. Only 98 people showed up to the polls.
In Fair Haven, challenger Thomas Burwell was unable to alter the landscape from the 2013 Democratic primary and once again lost to incumbent Santiago Berrios-Bones.
“I will continue pushing for the same issues that I have been pushing to this point,” Berrios-Bones said. “Those issues include safety, schooling and youth.”
The Board of Alders needs someone with a different opinion, more energy and a mind of his own, Fair Haven resident and Burwell supporter Joan Forte said. She added that the current board has too large a share of union-backed alders.
“If everyone is the same and says the same things, it’s not interesting at all,” Forte said.
Other primary winners include Barbara Constantinople against Robert Lee in Fair Haven Heights, Salvatore DeCola in Morris Cove, Delphine Clyburn in Newhallville and Carlton Staggers in West Rock — all of whom are incumbents.