Not surprisingly, voter participation in the lower Naugatuck Valley this year was highest in towns with hotly contested races.
According to election returns posted on the Secretary of the State’s website, Derby led Valley municipalities in voter participation, where 3,090 of 6,555 voters went to the polls Election Day. That’s 47.1 percent of all registered voters.
Derby Democrat Anita Dugatto, a downtown dentist, defeated four-term incumbent Republican Mayor Anthony Staffieri by more than 400 votes.
Turnout in Derby was slightly higher than in 2011, when about 45 percent of Derby voters showed up to the polls.
In 2009, 46.3 percent did.
Turnout was highest in Derby’s Third Ward on the east side of the city, where 1,412 of 2,639 registered voters went to the polls on Election Day, or 53.5 percent.
The Third Ward had previously been solid ground for Staffieri and the city’s Republicans, but Staffieri lost to Dugatto by about 150 votes in the ward’s Bradley School polling place, and the Aldermen’s races there followed suit, with two Democrats and one Republican elected, subject to a pending recount.
In neighboring Ansonia, citywide turnout leapt from a depressing 29.9 percent in 2011 to 43.4 percent Tuesday.
A total of 4,246 of 9,730 registered voters cast ballots in Ansonia Tuesday.
Though stronger citywide than in 2011, the ward-by-ward turnout statistics show wide disparities — and perhaps a clue as to how Republican Mayoral challenger David Cassetti shocked 14-term Democratic incumbent James Della Volpe in an upset.
For example, just 239 of 1,027 in Ansonia’s Fourth Ward showed up at the polls Tuesday, a dismal 23.3 percent. That’s the ward where two Democratic incumbents ran unopposed.
By contrast, in the city’s Sixth and Seventh Wards — where Cassetti said he was targeting voters he felt had been overtaxed the most — turnout was 54 and 59.9 percent, respectively.
In fact, the total votes for Wards 6 and 7 — 1,956 — is just shy of the 2,290 total ballots cast in the rest of the city.
Turnout was lower in Shelton and Seymour, where incumbents strode to re-election easily.
In Shelton, 36.5 percent of voters came to the polls Tuesday, or 8,686 of 23,821 registered voters.
That’s a dip from the 2011 election, when 43.6 percent of voters went to the polls. Turnout was higher in 2009, when 47.8 percent of Shelton voters cast ballots.
Shelton’s Fourth Ward saw the highest Election Day participation, with 2,302 of 5,713 voters turning out, over 40.3 percent. By contrast, the Second Ward saw just 1,800 of 5,833 registered voters cast ballots, or 31 percent turnout.
In Seymour, where First Selectman Kurt Miller strolled to re-election against write-in candidate Gary Bruce, a Republican Selectman, turnout was the lowest in the lower Valley.
According to the town clerk’s office, 2,825 of Seymour’s 9,518 registered voters cast ballots Tuesday, a turnout of 29.7 percent.
That figure is far lower than the 2009 and 2011 municipal elections in Seymour, which each saw about 40 percent turnout and a competitive race at the top of the ticket.