In Manchester, incumbent Mayor Ted Gatsas won election to a fourth term in office. But he beat Alderman Joyce Craig by less than one percent of the vote in an election that saw the largest turnout in years.
An indication of the race's tightness came when Craig took the stage at the Puritan backroom, shortly after unofficial results showed her losing by just 75 votes out of nearly 20,000 cast.
"The results tonight were very very close," Craig said, as the crowd cheered for a recount.
And Craig said that she was seriously considering asking the city clerk for a recount, to the cheers of her supporters.
Across town at the Gatsas campaign party at the Deerfield Country Club, the reaction was very different.
Gatsas had apparently pulled out another victory, though it may prove to be the narrowest win in the political stalwart’s long career.
"As everybody knows winning by 75 is better than losing by 75 … I don’t have to tell you that it was a tough, tough election.”
But it had been clear for weeks that Joyce Craig was gaining traction, despite Gatsas’ strong base of support in the Queen City.
Craig faulted Gatsas for what she said was a failed leadership in dealing with the drug problem in the city, crime and persistent problems in the public schools, such as crowded classes and clashes with the teachers union.
And Craig, a Democrat, apparently mounted a strong get-out-the-vote operation, something likely reflected in voter turnout that apparently topped 30 percent, the highest level for a city election in years.
But Gatsas also pounded the pavement, and the results indicate that his message of fiscal restraint resonated with voters. In recent months, Gatsas had taken steps that reinforced this stance, such as vetoing a teacher contract that he said would force the city to override its tax cap.
Gatsas’ reputation as a check on an aldermanic board dominated by Democrats was topmost in the mind of Mike Doyle, of resident of Ward 2, one of the city’s most active voting districts.
“He takes a lot of heat for it but he holds the line for us. so, me as a homeowner, with kids in school, it’s all about taxes for me.”
For all the enthusiasm for a recount at the Puritan Backroom, Joyce Craig only spoke briefly, with emotion in her voice.
"It’s been a great experience. thanks for coming tonight, and i look forward to speaking to you," she said.
The city clerk is expected to issue final vote count Wednesday. Craig said she’ll take a few days to decide whether to officially call for a recount.