Local Politics Can Be Just Pure Craziness

Colin McEnroe
Contact ReporterThe Hartford Courant

What did we learn from this week's local elections? The short answer is nothing. You should never trust anybody who claims that city and town elections prove anything about statewide or national trends.

For example, ignore all the people who tell you that Gov. Dannel P. Malloy had a good or bad day. Malloy did not affect any election outcomes. Zero. A governor in a local election is like a ghost in an elevator, pressing buttons that will never light up.

Many local elections are about resentments, petty rivalries and small-mindedness. Those are the good ones. The other ones are just pure craziness. The mayor of Toronto smokes crack and has a 44 percent approval rating. Think about that. Almost half the people in Toronto think he's doing a pretty good job, while smoking crack. That's local politics.

With that in mind, what did we learn?

Hartford is a very, very bad poodle.

The capital city had a 5 percent turnout, despite the fact that there were some pretty important ballot questions this year. In one polling place, as of 7 p.m., nobody had voted. For some reason, this did not make counting easy, even though the numbers were something the cast of Sesame Street could tackle. By Wednesday evening, the results were still a little murky. We talked on the air on WNPR to a woman who had been a Hartford poll moderator for the first time, and she was freaking out. What kind of place has nobody voting on charter revision? She was really yelling. I felt bad for her.

Cole Porter was wrong.

That whole thing about getting no kick from champagne or cocaine? Dan Champagne and Ken Cockayne were elected mayors of Vernon and Bristol, respectively.

One person named Herbst had a good week.

That person was not named Susan. Republican Tim Herbst won the Trumbull mayoral race by a larger margin (3,750 votes) than the total votes for his opponent (2,960).

Manny being Manny is good.

Manny Santos agreed to be a "placeholder" candidate so that his fellow Meriden Republicans would have more time to find someone to actually run. But then that didn't happen, and he beat the incumbent mayor.

People wanted women to run things.

New Haven, Derby, Torrington, Norwich and New Britain all got female mayors.

New Britain is "Game of Thrones."

Not so much in the sense of crossbows, eunuchs and beheadings, although I bet you could get any of those in New Britain if you knew who to talk to. More in the sense of ever-shifting plots and alliances and warrior dynasties. Erin Stewart took out the incumbent mayor Tim O'Brien. She is 26 and the daughter of the mayor before O'Brien who was Lord of Dragonstone and bastard son of the usurper Mormont. There was an attempt to discredit her by circulating Facebook photos from her college years. My guess is that this tactic will be tried a lot in the next 10 years and will almost never work.

West Haven is "Star Trek."

The mayor's race came down to O'Brien vs. Picard, who were both characters on "Star Trek: The Next Generation." In the series, Picard vastly outranks O'Brien, which was also the case in West Haven until recently. John Picard was mayor, but Edward O'Brien won a primary against him. Picard then tried to run as a write-in candidate. This amazing feat was done successfully in Waterbury in 2005 by Michael Jarjura. To make it work you have to either (a) base your entire campaign on telling people how to do a write-in vote or (b) fire a phaser directly into a Bajoran wormhole. Picard did not do either of those things, and he lost.

Griswold is the "X-Files."

Something really weird happened in the Griswold election, but as of this writing I cannot get anyone to explain rationally what it was. Griswold is located between Lisbon and Voluntown which is (a) not a very helpful thing to tell anyone and (b) right in the most UFO-infested area of the state. I'm not ready to say that extra-terrestrials are stealing the Griswold first selectman's seat, but if they did it would be cool and would give us something to lord over people from Toronto.

Colin McEnroe appears from 1 to 2 p.m. weekdays on WNPR-FM (90.5) and blogs at http://courantblogs.com/colin-mcenroe/. He can be reached at Colin@wnpr.org.

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