In the Ansonia Republican primary, Fourth Ward Alderman Martin Dempsey beat Richard Kaslaitis and Edward Norman to represent the GOP on the November election ballot.
Kaslaitis and Norman tied with 25 votes apiece, triggering an automatic recount, according to the Ansonia Registrar of Voters.
In the Board of Education Republican primary race, challenger Tracey Ann DeLibero won the GOP endorsement.
Incumbent Vinnie Scarlata came in second, with Aretta Kotalis third — but the slim margin of victory means that race will be recount as well, according to Nancy Valentine and Thomas Maffeo, the city’s registrars of voters.
The results are as follows. Bold denotes winner.
Fourth Ward, Board of Aldermen:
- Martin Dempsey: 57
- Richard Kaslaitis: 25
- Edward Norman: 25
Board of Education:
- Tracey Ann DeLibero: 189
- Aretta Kotalis: 112
- Vinnie Scarlata: 132 (subject to recount, according to Registrar of Voters)
Turnout citywide was 279 of the city’s 1,574 registered Republicans, or roughly 18 percent.
The primary cost the city roughly $20,000, according to Valentine.
Tuesday’s contests were the first local primaries for the party since the mid-90s, when Valentine, the current registrar, beat Patrick Freeman for the GOP mayoral nomination.
Recalling that election last week, Valentine said the party was able to close ranks afterward to present a united front against the city’s Democrats.
But it remains to be seen whether that will happen this time around.
Regardless of who wins the party’s final spot on the ballot for Fourth Ward Alderman, Norman and Kaslaitis have both gathered enough signatures to appear as petitioning candidates on the November election ballot. So has another Republican, Ray Knott.
Tuesday’s primary was the latest escalation in a power struggle between two factions of Republicans, one aligned with Mayor David Cassetti and another aligned Board of Alderman President Phil Tripp.
At the party’s nominating convention in July, Republicans in the Fourth Ward nominated incumbent Kaslaitis, who is close with Tripp, for Alderman.
But they opted not to nominate incumbent Dempsey, who the mayor appointed to the board last year as part of a deal between the two GOP camps.
Instead, they nominated Norman, a former chairman of the housing authority and former member of the city’s tax board.
Dempsey then gathered signatures to force Tuesday’s primary.
At the same time, DeLibero gathered signatures for a primary challenge to the party’s two nominees for Board of Education, incumbents Scarlata and Kotalis.
Tracey Ann DeLibero is the wife of Frank DeLibero, a Seventh Ward Alderman close to the mayor.
Endorsement letters sent to the Valley Indy helped to make clear the battle lines between the two camps.
For example, Tripp wrote a letter giving his “strongest endorsement” to Kaslaitis and Norman.
In a letter of his own, the mayor said Dempsey was the man to vote for in the Fourth Ward.
Dempsey also had the public backing of several GOP Aldermen and several other Republican Town Committee members.
In addition to the candidates who lost Tuesday’s primary, there will be other petitioning candidates in Aldermen’s races, most of them Republicans, on the November election ballot.
Which means that even if voters return the GOP to power for another term, the balance of power in the city could still be dependent on individual wards’ Aldermen’s races.
And a few dozen votes in a ward with low turnout could therefore alter Ansonia’s political landscape, putting more importance than ever on the campaigns’ ground games.