Caroline Simmons wins Stamford mayoral election as Bobby Valentine concedes

STAMFORD — Caroline Simmons claimed victory as Election Day ticked over into Wednesday, with a concession from Bobby Valentine in Tuesday’s mayoral election.

“I could not be more honored and humbled to get to be your next mayor,” Simmons said, moments after midnight.

“Today voters embrace the belief that we can emerge stronger from this pandemic, if we work together, support each other, lift each other up with kindness and love and unite around a common goal of making Stamford, a city of opportunity for everyone,” she said.

Voters had the choice between Valentine, a former Major League Baseball manager, local icon and unaffiliated candidate, and Simmons, a Democrat who has served as 144th District’s representative since 2015.

“I never had a doubt that Caroline was going to be our next mayor,” said a jubilant state Sen. Pat Billie Miller.

“This is a historic moment for the city of Stamford and historic moment for the women and girls of this city,” Miller said to a crowd of cheering supporters at Third Place by Half Full Brewery.

Simmons, 35, will be the first woman to serve as Stamford’s mayor.

Valentine conceded at around midnight, congratulating Simmons on her victory.

In a short speech, he called out the media for “all the lousy coverage” he said he received.

At the end, he thanked his supporters.

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

It took four hours after the polls closed for a result in the closely watched race.

Earlier in the day, Simmons and her supporters were set up outside a polling place at Stamford High School shortly before noon on Election Day.

“I’m a huge supporter of the Democratic Party and Caroline. … I want what’s best for Stamford,” said Carla Innerfield, standing a few feet from Simmons.

Innerfield cited issues including the growth of the city, roads and education as reasons for her support.

“I’d like to see the schools repaired … making a healthy environment for our children,” she said.

Valentine and Simmons shared a number of priorities, including supporting small businesses amid the COVID-19 pandemic, improving Stamford’s infrastructure and school buildings, and making it more affordable to live in the city.

Teresa Ginsberg, a Democrat and supporter of Simmons, said she has heard Valentine speak at fundraisers — and he “does a great job at fundraisers” — but she was disappointed with his performance at a debate hosted by the Stamford Chamber of Commerce.

“I went with an open mind because I really like him,” said Ginsberg, who noted that she moved to Stamford about a year ago after living in Old Greenwich. “But (Simmons) spoke circles around him, and I’m just worried that people are just going to vote for him because they’ve heard the name.”

Bethany Hill McCarthy also voted for Simmons earlier in the afternoon.

“I looked at both candidates and felt like her platform most carefully aligned with what my own ideals were,” she said.

After the Stamford Democratic City Committee narrowly endorsed her, Simmons went on to beat incumbent Mayor David Martin in a primary, which Martin forced by gathering signatures from registered Democrats. She was crossed-endorsed by the Independent Party.

Simmons was endorsed by the city’s firefighters union and several local affiliates of the Service Employees International Union. She also received endorsements from Gov. Ned Lamont and former President Barack Obama.