In the Valley equivalent of Buster Douglas knocking out Iron Mike Tyson to win an improbable heavyweight championship in 1990, former boxer David Cassetti unseated seven-term incumbent Mayor James Della Volpe Tuesday.
Della Volpe, a Democrat, has been the city’s mayor for 14 years.
Unofficial numbers from the Registrar’s office had Cassetti, a Republican, with 2,456 votes and Della Volpe with 1,741 votes.
The win was incredible for Ansonia Republicans, who didn’t even field a candidate against Della Volpe two years ago.
The GOP also won a majority on the Board of Alderman and two out of three open positions on the Board of Education.
The Republicans also took the city’s treasurer seat from the Democrat incumbent.
“It’s exhilarating,” Cassetti said. “We have the victory tonight. And I’m really happy about the majority on the Board of Aldermen. That is a great victory.”
Republicans and Democrats attributed the Republican win to a tax increase that went into effect on July 1. The city’s tax rate went from 27.6 to 39.2 — an increase attributed to revaluation, a shrinking grand list and a loss of grants to city schools.
The sixth and seventh wards, in Ansonia’s hilltop area, were hit especially hard by the increase, Cassetti said. And in those two wards, Cassetti won big margins.
Della Volpe said his administration kept taxes low for 12 years, but people were focused on the last two budget cycles.
“I guess they wanted a change, and they got change,” Della Volpe said.
Della Volpe, in a concession speech, apologized to his supporters.
“I only had the best interests of the city at heart,” Della Volpe said, after seeing the results from all seven wards. “I did the best I could. I feel like I let a lot of people down tonight.”
Della Volpe’s speech is below. Article continues after the video.
Democrat Elizabeth Lynch won the open Town and City Clerk position given up by Madeline Bottone, who will retire this year after eight terms.
Board of Aldermen
Ansonia Republicans won nine of the Board of Aldermen’s 14 seats.
It’s the first time in decades the party has held the majority of seats on the chief governing board.
In fact, in 2009, the city elected its first Republican to the board in a decade. Then in 2011, Republicans won three more seats on the board.
Republican Alderman Charles Stowe, an incumbent, said the Republicans plan to focus on economic development, consolidating offices in City Hall for cost savings and working with the Board of Education — details listed in the party’s campaign proposals.
“Now we have the opportunity, a majority and no real roadblocks in our way to achieve these goals,” Stowe said.
Board of Aldermen President Eugene Sharkey was one of four Democrat incumbents unseated by Republican candidates.
“The people have spoken,” said Sharkey, who represented the sixth ward for the last 10 years. “I’ve done the best that I can for the City of Ansonia.”
Sharkey said he is proud of his record, specifically the fact that several bonding proposals on the ballot passed Tuesday.
“I worked hard to put that together,” Sharkey said. “I’m glad the city will save money.”
John Marini, a Republican Alderman and the campaign manager for Cassetti’s campaign/Ansonia Republican mastermind, said the Republican victory restores balance to City Hall.
“There’s been complete Democrat domination for the last 14 years, and really whether it’s Republican or Democrat, it’s not healthy for a city,” Marini said. “So this is really a chance to restore balance with people.”
The video below shows Della Volpe congratulating Cassetti on his win. Article continues below.
Marini said despite now having a majority, the Republicans plan to work together with Democrats to represent the whole city.
“I can assure you, that it will be an absolute priority to reach out across the aisle to the Democrats on the Board of Aldermen, and of course the Democrats in the city, and to really build a coalition of Democrats, Republicans, and independents to move things forward,” he said.
Ansonia voters also had ballot questions regarding about $5 million in bonding for various infrastructure projects, and several charter revision questions.
The following bonding project questions were included as questions on the ballot:
1. 1.2 million in energy conservation improvements at the ARMS headquarters, police station and library, and roof repairs at several city buildings
2. $765,000 in school security improvements
3. $1.28 million for city property improvements at the Ansonia Nature Center pond, Nolan Field, the River Walk and the Armory
4. $1.02 million to for environmental capital improvements — including buying a vacuum truck, improving the transfer station and demolition of Peck School
5. $495,000 to pay for road and parking improvements on Woodbridge Avenue Extension, Beech Street and Hilltop Hose Driveway and the West Main Street parking lot.
6. $300,000 to purchase land on Olson Drive
7. Allow the city to schedule a budget vote on any budget proposal that would result in a 3 percent increase.
YES 3,107. NO 604
8. Allow the city to send abbreviated legal notices for publication, with the full legal notice posted on the city’s website.
9. Require an absentee policy for boards and commissions
10. Increase the amount of money that triggers a bid for city projects from $5,000 to $25,000.
The parking and road improvements passed by one vote, and Registrar of Voters Nancy Valentine said there would be a recount for that question.
The following are the results from all races in Ansonia. Winners are noted with an X.
James Della Volpe (Dem): 1,741
David Cassetti (Rep): 2,456 X
BOARD OF ALDERMEN
Edward Adamowski (Dem): 269 X
Peter Marcinko (Dem): 258
Charles Stowe (Rep): 268 X
Natalie Biasucci (Rep): 258
Jamie Puro (Dem):194
Louis Uvino (Dem): 162
Phil Tripp (Rep): 354 X
Lorie Vaccaro (Rep): 307 X
Joseph Jeanette Jr. (Dem): 234 X
Denice Hunt (Dem): 222 X
Valeria Wells (Rep): 218
Dan King (Rep): 206
Jerome Fainer (Dem): 144 X
Anthony DeLucia (Dem): 149 X
Jeffrey Gould (Dem): 203
Joan Radin (Rep): 304 X
Anthony Cassetti (Rep): 251 X
Gene Sharkey (Dem): 345
Scott Nihill (Dem): 309
Matthew Edo (Rep): 490 X
Patrick Henri (Rep): 558 X
David Knapp (Dem): 477
Sal Hanaif (Dem): 350
Daniel Evans (Rep): 541 X
David Blackwell Jr. (Rep): 631 X
BOARD OF EDUCATION
Fran DiGiorgi (Dem): 1,829 X
Noreen DeCiucis (Dem): 1,644
Aretta Kotalis (Rep): 2,039 X
Vinnie Scarlata (Rep): 2,229 X
Ronald Greski (Dem): 1,626
Judy Larkin-Nicolari (Rep): 2,391 X
Elizabeth Lynch (Dem): 1,947 X
Joanne Czeczot (Rep): 1,664
Janet Vitarius Waugh (Unafﬁliated): 383
Timothy Holman (Dem): 1,492
Sean Rowley (Dem): 2,049 X
Louis Macero (Dem): 1,691 X
Ronald Henri (Rep): 2,091 X
Peter Gujski (Rep): 1,678 X
Roy Tidmarsh (Rep): 2,309 X