Cosgrove, GOP Majority Win Big in Branford
At a gathering of Branford GOP supporters on election night, First Selectman Jamie Cosgrove receives applause from supporters on his decisive third-term win in the Nov. 7 municipal elections; with campaign chair Bill Aniskovich (left) and Republican Town Committee chair Ray Ingraham (right) joining in the celebration. (Photo by Pam Johnson/The Sound)
At Branford's Democratic gathering on election night, State Senator Ted Kennedy Jr. of Branford (D, District 12) showed his support for Democratic candidate Lynda Mollow (right) who lost her first bid for the office of First Selectman in the Nov. 7 municipal election. (Photo by Pam Johnson/The Sound)
With a strong show of support, Republican Jamie Cosgrove handily won a third term as Branford's First Selectman in the 2017 municipal election on Nov. 7, taking nearly 61 percent of the vote to best Democratic opponent Lynda Mollow. Cosgrove received 4,389 votes over Mollow's 2,857. Of the town's 20,256 registered voters, a total of 7,310 went to the polls on election day, a response rate of 36 percent.
"It's an honor to win again, and an honor to be able to serve the town for two more years," Cosgrove told Zip06/The Sound, moments after the final poll numbers appeared on the big screen at the GOP gathering on election night.
"We're being judged on our record, and I think over the last four years our team has a lot to be proud of," said Cosgrove, adding, "...voters came out today and said they approve of what we've been doing."
To round out the 2017-19 Board of Selectmen (BOS), Branford voters almost perfectly split their support between Cosgrove's three-time GOP running mate Joe Higgins and Mollow's Democratic running mate Jack Ahern. The final tally came down to a single vote between the two incumbents; with 50.01 percent of the electorate pulling for Higgins (3,577 votes), and 49.99 percent supporting Ahern (3,576 votes). Although a margin of five or less votes between a winning and losing candidate can trigger a recount, there is no actual second or third selectman place on the BOS; so because both candidattes earned spots on the BOS, no recount was required, said Registrar of Voters Dan Hally.
The Branford GOP retained the majority in other elective posts on Nov. 7, including the Representative Town Meeting (RTM) and the Board of Education, bucking what post-election analysts described as a national trend of electors turning over control to more Democrats.
"We had some national items come into this election, and we kept it local – Branford local," said Republican Town Committee chairman Ray Ingraham. "Branford answered and put us back in charge."
Branford Republicans won the majority of RTM seats and control of six of the town's seven districts. A recount took place in District One on Sat. Nov. 11, triggered by a margin of five or less votes originally tallied between the Republican George David Wells over Democrats Michele Sember and Jessica Buchanan. The recount gave Wells the win to keep the Republican's election night majority of four of the six seats in District One. In an added twist, the Nov. 11 recount, which gave Wells a new total of 577 votes (one more than the original tally) also counted up a tie between Democratic candidates Michele Sember and Jessica Buchanan, giving them 573 votes apiece. On Nov. 13, Town Clerk Lisa Arpin, per Town Charter, told Zip06/The Sound, she had intiated the process of notifying the RTM of a window of two weeks in which to receive either a concession from one of the tied candidates or to conduct a drawing from a hat, done in the presence of three non-interested witnesses, to determine which Democrat would take the tie.
On election night, Cosgrove's campaign chairman, Bill Aniskovich, said the GOP win shows the Cosgrove administration continues to "...put the people of Branford before politics."
"We have tonight weathered a storm that was national in making, but has nothing to do with how we govern in Branford," said Aniskovich. "Because, for the last [two] terms and for the last four years, Jamie Cosgrove has led a majority and led a town to focus on what's important to the people who live here."
Cosgrove also thanked Branford voters for showing their support, saying the Cosgrove Team isn't just made up of elected officials and those who serve on boards and commissions, but also "...the volunteers, our family members [and] the citizens of Branford."
"We work together as a team. Four years ago, I said it's not about R's, D's and U's... it's about Branford. And we've governed for Branford for the last four years; and tonight the voters [said] to us continue to do the great work you've been doing, moving forward," said Cosgrove. "Tonight, we celebrate as a team; but tomorrow, we go back to governing as a team."
Other Branford GOP wins on Nov. 7 included those for Branford's Republican Town Clerk, Lisa Arpin, who was returned to her post with 3,855 votes; some 570 votes ahead of Democratic contender Margaret Bruno. GOP Town Treasurer Michael Nardella also won another term, with 3,700 votes to Democratic candidate Kurt Schawnfelder's 3,439.
The night's most hotly contested race was for the Tax Collector's open seat and was won by Branford's Democrats. Voters placed first-time candidate Roberta Gill-Brooks at the post over GOP contender Sandra Kraus. Gill-Brooks received 3,692 votes (51.69 percent) and Kraus earned 3,450 votes (48.31 percent).
The Board of Education's three open seats had close numbers among all four contenders but ultimately gave the majority to Republican incumbents Judy Holtz and Shannen Sharkey; followed by Democratic incumbent John Prins, who earned 23 votes more than Democratic candidate Sarah Lockery.
As the numbers rolled in and Cosgrove cinched his decisive win about an hour after polls closed at 8 p.m., cheers broke out among supporters gathered at Branford's American Legion Post 83 hall.
At the Democratic gathering at Branford's VFW Post 12106 hall, Mollow was applauded by her team as the tallies went up. Mollow congratulated her team with special recognition given to Ahern and Gill-Brooks and urged everyone to "stay involved."
"The biggest message we had for this entire campaign was we need to engage people more in public decision making. And if we're not going to do that from an administrative standpoint, then we're going to have do it from a public standpoint [so] when we come back at this again next time...we're going to be stronger and we're also going to fall right back into getting together again to make this happen," said Mollow.
This story was updated to give results of a Nov. 11 recount for District 1 RTM.