A 1,500 vote difference put Caroline Simmons over Bobby Valentine to become Stamford’s next mayor

Photo of Brianna Gurciullo

STAMFORD — About 40 percent of the city’s eligible voters participated in Tuesday’s municipal election, a sharp increase compared with turnout four years earlier — potentially driven by the hard-fought mayoral race between state Rep. Caroline Simmons, D-Stamford, and Bobby Valentine, a former Major League Baseball manager and local businessman.

Of the city’s 74,085 eligible voters, 30,156 voted, according to preliminary information posted to the Secretary of the State’s website. The turnout for Stamford’s municipal election four years ago was about 27 percent.

Simmons, a state representative for Stamford, garnered a total of 15,565 votes, or 52.5 percent, securing her spot in the city’s history as the first woman to serve as Stamford’s mayor. Valentine, who ran as an unaffiliated candidate, earned 14,060 votes, or 47.5 percent, according to results submitted to the Secretary of the State’s office.

“She’s going to be a great champion for Stamford. I’ve known her for many, many years,” Gov. Ned Lamont said Wednesday morning after an event in New Haven.

“There’s a lot of wind at the back in Stamford, a lot of job opportunity and businesses going there. I think that’s amazing,” the governor said. “I also just talked to Bobby Valentine, and gave him a shout-out for a really positive campaign.”

Simmons’ name appeared on the Democratic as well as the Independent Party lines on the ballot because she was cross-endorsed by the minor party. She received 14,885 votes on the Democratic line and 680 votes on the Independent Party line.

Of the total votes that went to Simmons, 3,227 were cast by absentee ballot. Valentine received 1,961 absentee votes.

Valentine conceded around midnight, congratulating Simmons on her victory. In brief remarks, he called out the media for “all the lousy coverage” he said he received. But he also said he hoped that Stamford’s business community would benefit from the coverage of his campaign by national and regional outlets.

“I’ll always love the people of this city and always think that Stamford is special,” he said in closing.

A special election will need to be held to fill Simmons’ seat in the state House of Representatives.

Under state law, the governor is required to issue a writ of special election within 10 days of a seat in the General Assembly becoming vacant, and a special election must be held 46 days after the writ is issued.

In other races:

Democratic incumbent Lyda Ruijter won reelection as town clerk. She earned a total of 15,192 votes. Unaffiliated candidate Marilyn Abbazia-Lodato received 9,607 votes. Bob Lion, who challenged Ruijter for the Democratic nod earlier this year and lost, received 33 votes as a write-in candidate.

For the Board of Finance, only one seat was truly up for grabs.

It went to the current chairperson of the board, Richard Freedman, who garnered 16,050 votes. Fellow Democrats Robert Barocas and Leo Zygelman received 13,486 and 12,556 votes, respectively.

Republican candidates Dennis Mahoney and J.R. McMullen earned 11,981 and 11,322 votes, respectively. Mahoney and McMullen were assured seats on the board because of a minority representation rule.

Separately, David Mannis, a Democrat, ran unopposed in seeking to finish out a term originally won by Democrat David Kooris, who stepped down to take on the role of president of the Stamford Downtown Special Services District. Mannis’ vote tally was 17,140.

For the Board of Education, which also operates under a minority representation rule, no more than one of the three Democratic candidates could win a seat. Current city Rep. Ben Lee emerged the winner with 13,240 votes. Fellow Democrats Michael Hyman and Versha Munshi-South earned 12,933 and 12,476 votes, respectively.

The other two available seats were won by Republican incumbent Becky Hamman, who garnered 10,245 votes, and fellow Republican Josh Esses, who received 10,419 votes.

Republican candidate Joe Gonzalez received 8,785 votes. Unaffiliated candidate and incumbent Jackie Pioli received 4,147. Independent Party candidate Rachel Albone received 2,692.

The results for the Board of Representatives:

*Winners

District 1

*Bradley Michelson Bewkes (R): 1,144

*David Watkins (R): 1,211

District 2

*Virgil de la Cruz (D): 488

*Ines Saftic (D): 354

Thomas Dougherty (petitioning): 298

District 3

*Terry Adams (D): 556

*Elise Coleman (D): 550

District 4

*Robert Roqueta (D): 430

*Megan Cottrell (D): 480

Erika Talnagi (R): 210

Peter Talnagi (R): 194

District 5

*Bonnie Kim Campbell (D): 393

*Melinda Punkin Baxter (D): 385

Sheila Williams-Brown (R): 53

District 6

*Annie Summerville (D): 739

*Denis Patterson (D): 696

Juan David Ospina (R): 378

District 7

*Lindsey Miller (D): 570

*Monica DiCostanzo (D): 600

Charles Pia (R): 332

District 8

*Anabel Figueroa (D): 635

*Nina Sherwood (D): 615

Lynda Roscia (petitioning): 295

Maria Larrea (petitioning): 314

District 9

*Jeffrey Stella (D): 383

*Rodney Pratt (D): 386

District 10

*Mavina Moore (D): 670

*Francise Jean-Louis (D): 661

District 11

*Cara Gilbride (D): 698

*Maureen Pollack (D): 701

Nathan Chang Ducharme (petitioning): 584

John Zelinsky (petitioning): 571

District 12

*Jonathan Jacobson (D): 680

*Ramya Shaw (D): 629

Wilm Donath (R): 332

Carola Cammann (R): 330

District 13

*Amiel Goldberg (D): 1,023; (I): 183

*Eric Morson (D): 1,123; (I): 296

Jonathan Portanova (R): 1,094

District 14

*Dan Sandford (D): 998

*Jeff Curtis (D): 1,036

District 15

*Sean Boeger (D): 870

*Carmine Tomas (D): 915

Frank Cerasoli (R): 581

District 16

*Philip Berns (D): 1,145

*Fred Pierre-Louis (D): 1,200

Palmer Stolly (R): 659

Bob Kolenberg (Alliance for Stamford): 251

Gary Palomba (petitioning): 768

District 17

*Bobby Pavia (D): 938

*Mary Fedeli (R): 856

District 18

Karen Camporeale (D): 1,051

*James Grunberger (D): 1,065

*Charles Florio (R): 1,178

David Wilburn (petitioning): 535

District 19

*Don Mays (D): 1,367

*Jennifer Matheny (D): 1,442

District 20

*Susan Nabel (D): 1,337

*Ashley Ley (D): 1,322

Michael Tedder (R): 1,095

Includes prior reporting by staff writer Ignacio Laguarda, Veronica Del Valle and Ken Dixon.

brianna.gurciullo@hearstmediact.com