Just after 8 p.m. on Super Tuesday, canvassers and candidates alike crowded through the side entrance of Wexler-Grant Community School, seeking primary results for the city’s only contested co-chair race this year.
As a poll worker announced the number of votes received by the first two names on the ballot — 182 for Vicky Dancy and 188 for Gabrielle Diaz ’18 — Dancy’s and Diaz’s supporters began to clap. Incumbent Cordelia Thorpe was not present to learn that she had received 66 votes, while her running mate Angela Watley garnered 70. The results wrapped up a day of heavy canvassing for the Dancy-Diaz slate, which received support from both Dixwell Alder Jeanette Morrison and outgoing Ward 22 Co-Chair Maxwell Ulin ’17. Dancy and Diaz begin their two-year terms on Wednesday.
“I’m not trying to start a political career,” Diaz said. “I’m just trying to help out Dixwell.”
Diaz, a student in Timothy Dwight College, attributed the wide margin of support she and Dancy — an adjunct professor at Gateway Community College — received to votes from Yale students. Diaz herself had personally reached out to undergraduates living in TD and Silliman over the course of the day, knocking on doors and making phone calls.
Earlier that afternoon, the school’s side entrance remained sparsely populated, while the poll numbers indicated low voter turnout. By 2:30 p.m., only 133 of the 1,872 voters registered for the election had cast ballots.
Morrison said the race provided her with an opportunity to educate community members on the functions of the ward co-chairs, who register voters and work with the alder.
Both Morrison and the Thorpe–Watley team had stationed themselves outside of the school when polls opened at 6 a.m. They were joined by a rotating cast of volunteers, other elected officials and a guest appearance from Boodie Watt’s Hot Dogs truck, owned by Watley’s brother.
Watley and Thorpe told the News Tuesday afternoon that the “Q” House — a former youth and community center which received a $14.5 million revitalization grant from the state in January — was being used as a political tool by Morrison’s team. Thorpe claimed that she and state Sen. Gary Winfield secured those funds in a promise from then-Stamford Mayor Dannel Malloy in the 2006 Connecticut Democratic gubernatorial primary. That year, Malloy lost to former New Haven Mayor John DeStefano.
The Thorpe–Watley slate had instead focused on “grassroots” campaigning through door-knocking and phone-calling, Watley said.
That afternoon, Morrison and Watley clashed briefly in front of the school. One of Watley’s supporters insisted that the ward — which Morrison said was a 50–50 split between Yale and Dixwell — was actually comprised of 35 percent Yale students and 65 percent other neighborhood residents. Watley then accused Morrison of pandering to the University.
“We have to respond to both sides of the ward,” Morrison said. “We can’t just focus on Dixwell or Yale.”
Morris Cove Alder Sal DeCola, present that afternoon, was one of a slew of alders — including President of the Board of Alders Tyisha Walker, Westville Alder Adam Marchand GRD ’99 and Hill Alder Dolores Colón ’91 — who joined Morrison outside Wexler-Grant over the course of the day.
DeCola said this aldermanic support demonstrated the teamwork of the BOA. He added that co-chairs who stand with their alder help the alder further neighborhood outreach.
“When you have two co-chairs that fight against you, it causes disharmony,” he said.
Dixwell resident Barbara Whitaker, who greeted Morrison that afternoon with a hug, said she voted for Morrison’s candidates solely because of her support for the alder.
Former Democratic Deputy Registrar of Voters Helen Powell, who said she had campaigned without help from other volunteers, received 24 votes. Standing outside the polling place in a maroon coat and holding a lit cigarette, Powell said her loss would not affect her as she plans to run for Democratic registrar of voters later in the year.
Thorpe could not be reached for comment Tuesday evening.
Connecticut’s Democratic and Republican primaries for the U.S. presidential election will be held April 26.