WATERBURY, Conn. (WTNH) – Low voter turnout is expected in Waterbury as people in the Brass City are not voting for mayor this year, but they are picking their Board of Aldermen members.
The GOP has high hopes of making a run at the Board of Aldermen. Democrats have controlled it since the 90s. The Brass City is a Democratic stronghold. Of the more than 54,000 registered voters, 42 percent are Democrats, 13 percent are Republicans, 43 percent are unaffiliated, and 2 percent are members of what the city clerk’s office defines as minor parties.
Behind the scenes, the Democrats aren’t taking anything for granted. Waterbury State Representative Geraldo Reyes, Jr. led the charge to get more Democrats to the polls. He spent the day coordinating rides to the polls for Democratic voters and the phone banks were fully-staffed inside Democratic headquarters on Bank Street.
“Truth be told, we believe all elections are important, number one, and number two, there’s nothing more important than a local election,” Reyes said.
There’s concern about low turnout. The head of the Republican Town Committee senses a chance for the GOP to pick up seats on the Board of Aldermen. Right now, the Board of Aldermen is 10 to 5 Democrat and has been in Democratic control since the 90s.
Waterbury Republican Town Chairman, Jeff Santopietro, says the juvenile crime crisis is a reason why he’s been trying to galvanize Republican supporters.
“I think they’re tired of seeing parents bury their children because of shootings,” Santopietro said.
Waterbury Alderman, Democrat Chris D’Orso, responded to that outside Kennedy High School, where he was greeting voters Tuesday.
“With regards to juvenile crime and the rise in crime, that’s not a state issue or a city issue, that’s a nationwide issue,” D’Orso said.
Santopietro also telling News8 he believes the city’s high taxes and economic situation are Republican selling points.
“I think they’re tired of the blight in Waterbury,” Santopietro said.
Alderman D’Orso also responding to that:
“The mayor continues to grow The Grand List,” he said. “There’s potential now on Reidville Drive for a new health care facility. This administration since 2011, has grown The Grand List to over $350 million dollars. That’s amazing — a staggering figure.”
Rep. Reyes added the city has also seen success dismantling old factory buildings and is working on deals to lure in companies to expand the tax base.
Both sides telling News 8 a lot rides on voter turnout. The last time the mayor wasn’t on the ballot, turnout was 15 percent in Waterbury in 2017.