Ansonia Mayor David Cassetti held a broom in one hand and a glass of champagne in the other as he celebrated a clean sweep win over Democratic challenger Tarek Raslan to take a third term Tuesday.
Cassetti defeated Raslan by a tally of 2,959 votes to 1,162, according to results from the secretary of the state.
The GOP rode the mayor’s coattails to take all 14 seats on the Board of Aldermen and every under-ticket race contested in a landslide victory for the city’s Republicans.
In a city where registered Democrats still outnumber Republicans by a nearly 2-to-1 margin, the GOPers extended their near-total grip on policymaking.
“What a historic night in Ansonia politics,” the mayor said as dozens of supporters cheered inside his Main Street headquarters. “We got a clean sweep.”
“I am humbled by this,” the mayor said. “I thank the residents of the city of Ansonia for having faith in me and my team.”
Click the play button on the video to see Cassetti address his supporters.
In an interview afterward, Cassetti was conciliatory toward Raslan, saying the challenger “is a bright young man. He has a future for himself.”
But at the same time, he said voters clearly decided his administration deserved another term, and looked toward his own plans for the next two years.
“I’ve proven for the last four years that we can get it done,” Cassetti said. “I’ve got some great plans for Ansonia Copper & Brass and many other things throughout the city that I’m working on.”
The mood at Democratic headquarters was upbeat on Tuesday — until the results from the wards began coming in.
“We’ve got some sobering news,” Raslan told the crowd of about 50 supporters at the start of his concession speech. “We didn’t win.”
The story continues after Raslan’s concession speech below.
Despite an across-the-board trouncing, Raslan tried to keep spirits up.
“Come January, I will be back out knocking on doors,” he said.
But he was non-committal when asked whether he’d challenge Cassetti again.
“We’ll see,” he said.
Raslan said the goals of his campaign were to rebuild the energy in the local Democratic Party, to put out a vision for the city, and, obviously, to win.
The campaign achieved the first two goals, he said.
“We have absolutely created a vision for what we do represent, and we built a stronger organization,” he said.
As far as an explanation for the defeat, Raslan said the country is facing difficult economic circumstances.
Team Cassetti’s “message of tax decreases” speaks to residents, he said.
David Knapp, the chairman of the city’s Democratic committee, lost his bid for City Treasurer and Seventh Ward Alderman.
“I’m disappointed,” he said. “We had some great candidates. We’re going to regroup and be back at it.”
Turnout was roughly 44 percent, down slightly from 2015, when it was about 48 percent.
Prior to Cassetti’s first election in 2013, he owned a construction business on Riverside Drive. He has also served as an Alderman and member of the Board of Police Commissioners.
Raslan moved to Ansonia two years ago and runs a real estate business. Before that, he worked as an analyst at Citibank in the UK and for a real estate business run by his family.
From the beginning of the campaign, Raslan portrayed himself as a big underdog — with good reason, as it turns out.
The challenger’s main issues as the campaign developed focused on the reduction of the city’s rainy day fund since Cassetti took office to pay for a modest decrease in the city’s property taxes.
The city’s mill rate has gone down about 2 mills since 2013, but its fund balance has also decreased — to the tune of $8.5 million.
Raslan also challenged Cassetti’s record on economic development, saying that while it’s good a string of new businesses and restaurants have moved to the city, the tax rolls haven’t increased enough to pay for increases in spending.
He said the mayor has essentially built a Potemkin village, and residents will be left to clean up the mess when the scenery comes crashing down. He pointed to a number of announcements made by the mayor, saying things once trumpeted as “done deals” turned out to be anything but.
Cassetti brushed off the criticism.
He said all voters need to do to see the city is headed in the right direction is to look around — not only at new restaurants and businesses, but at long-blighted properties that are being cleaned up, a string of other new city initiatives such as a smartphone app, and most importantly, a stable tax rate.
In the end, voters decided to give the mayor another two years.
But Democrats aren’t the only ones who take have taken a dim view of Cassetti’s administration. The mayor has also made enemies in his own party dissatisfied with what they see as a top-down, like-it-or-lump-it management style.
They have coalesced behind Phil Tripp, who represents the Second Ward and has served as president of the Board of Aldermen since the 2013 Republican takeover.
The two local GOP factions clashed most openly last year, when two spots on the Board of Aldermen opened up.
Then, at the party’s July 20 nominating convention for this year’s elections, the Cassetti faction succeeded in replacing incumbent Joan Radin, a Fifth Ward Alderwoman — and frequent Cassetti critic — on the GOP ballot line.
Within days, Radin had gathered enough signatures to appear on the ballot as a petitioning candidate for the Board of Aldermen, as did two Seventh Ward Republicans, Vinnie Scarlata and Andrew Tkacs.
In an election eve Facebook post Scarlata fanned the flames of the GOP feud by noting a number of the “Team Cassetti” candidates became Republicans only within the last few years, while Cassetti has occupied the mayor’s office.
Tripp won re-election in the Second Ward, though voters rejected Cassetti’s other critics.
Radin, Scarlata, and Tkacs all lost to “Team Cassetti” Aldermen candidates Tuesday. But Scarlata was re-elected to a seat on the city’s Board of Education.
One “Team Cassetti” petitioning candidate, Raymond Knott, gathered enough signatures in the Fourth Ward, where Richard Kaslaitis, an Alderman in the Tripp faction, was running for re-election. But Kaslaitis fended off Knott to win re-election by 30 votes, according to unofficial results.
Other new “Team Cassetti” Aldermen — Joseph Cassetti, who is the mayor’s brother, and Domenico Filippone in the Third Ward, Chicago Rivers in the Fifth Ward, and Kevin O’Brien in the Sixth Ward. On the Board of Education, “Team Cassetti” candidate Tracey DeLibero, wife of Seventh Ward Alderman Frank DeLibero, was elected easily.
Rivers said he decided to run after being involved in the city’s youth football programs for years and being encouraged to get involved by parents.
He looked beyond the Democrat-Republican divide, despite the GOP’s overwhelming victory. Rivers promised to “always going to look out for what is right for the town of Ansonia, not just the party,” listing the reconstruction of Wakelee Avenue and the demolition of the long-vacant Peck School as his top two priorities.
Cassetti and his re-elected supporters on the Board of Aldermen said they hoped to repair tensions within the GOP, but also said it’s good to have a healthy debate.
“We’re going to try to work through it, but when you get a bunch of adults together, it’s good to have a little bit of conflict,” the Seventh Ward’s David Blackwell said. “There always needs to be somebody who questions everything.”
“Conflict’s a good thing because everybody doesn’t always agree with everything,” Frank DeLibero, another Seventh Ward Alderman, said. “When you work together for a common goal somehow you manage to make everything work out good.
The mayor said he would try to repair tensions within the GOP and with Tripp and Kaslaitis, the sole Aldermen among his critics who were re-elected.
“I definitely think that the rift is going to get healed,” Cassetti said. “There’s a couple of Aldermen that have minds of their own and they want to do different things but that’s the way Republicans work. I want to pull them all together for the good of the city.”
Raslan video by Sean Morse.
Unofficial results below.
BOLD DENOTES WINNER
D = Democrat
R = Republican
P = Petitioning
Tarek M. Raslan — D 1,162
David S. Cassetti — R 2,959 (incumbent)
Beth Shortell Lynch — D 1,884
Janet Vitarius Waugh — R 2,098 (incumbent)
David Knapp — D 1,350
Judy Larkin Nicolari — R 2,595 (incumbent)
BOARD OF ALDERMEN
First Ward Aldermen
Edward J. Adamowski — D 201
James J. Malloy — D 211
Randolph F. Carroll — R 289 (incumbent)
Charles Stowe — R 280 (incumbent)
Second Ward Aldermen
Shain D. Edmonds — D 209
Lorie R. Vaccaro — R (incumbent) 259
Philip M. Tripp — R (incumbent) 336
Harry R. Danley, Jr. — P 101
Third Ward Aldermen
Gary F. Farrar, Jr. — D 179
Jason R. St. Jacques — D 190
Joseph Cassetti — R 299
Domenico Filippone — R 280
Fourth Ward Aldermen
Richard J. Kaslaitis, III — R (incumbent) 124
Martin John Dempsey, II — R (incumbent) 181
Edward C. Norman — Petitioning candidate 60
Raymond Knott — Petitioning candidate 90
Fifth Ward Aldermen
Seannea E. Raslan — D 184
Chicago R. Rivers — R 271
Joseph A. Jaumann — R (incumbent) 292
Joan P. Radin — P (incumbent) 162
Sixth Ward Aldermen
Joshua A. Shuart — R (incumbent) 591
Kevin C. O’Brien — R 614
Seventh Ward Aldermen
David A. Knapp — D 341
Fred T. Williams — D 252
David B. Blackwell, Jr. — R (incumbent) 572
Frank DeLibero — R (incumbent) 530
Vincent G. Scarlata — P 115
Andrew K. Tkacs — P 57
BOARD OF EDUCATION
Joseph A. Jeanette, Jr. — D 1,613
Fran DiGiorgi — D (incumbent) 1,483
Tracey Ann DeLibero — R 2,354
Vincent G. Scarlata — R 2,169 (incumbent)
Louis R. Macero — D (incumbent) 1,718
Sean P. Rowley — D (incumbent) 1,967
Daniel A. King — R (incumbent) 2,455
William J. Zwack — R 2,031
Peter Gujski — R (incumbent) 2,209