NORTH STONINGTON — A recount is scheduled for 9 a.m. Saturday at Town Hall after Tuesday night’s election results left Republican candidates Brett Mastroianni and Robert Testa one vote apart for a seat on the Board of Selectmen.
Testa, who lost to Republican incumbent Nicholas Mullane in the race for first selectman, received 702 votes. Brett Mastroianni, Mullane’s running mate and a selectman candidate, received 701 votes.
Under a section of Connecticut law covering elections (Title 9, Chapter 146, Section 9-188), Testa was automatically entered in the selectman’s race after losing the first selectman spot. With one vote more than Mastroianni, he would win one of the two open selectman seats.
As the only non-Republican candidate, Democratic incumbent Mark Donahue (348 votes) was guaranteed the other seat based on Connecticut minority representation law that only two of the three board members can be from the same party.
A recount was originally planned under Chapter 148, Section 9-311a, part of which requires a recount when fewer than 20 votes separate two candidates. Howerver, attorneys with the Secretary of the State’s office have decided that it is unclear if this statute applies, given the minority representation requirements and Testa’s original candidacy for first selectman.
“It’s a completely unprecedented situation,” said Av Harris, director of communication for the state office, which administers elections.
Based on the circumstances surrounding the close vote, Harris said the state lawyers have advised North Stonington to hold a “discrepancy” recount, overseen by town moderator Mary Cooper.
As of Thursday afternoon, Testa said the town had not notified him of the recount, but that he finds it “very concerning.”
“For a discrepancy recount, there needs to be a cause,” he said. “They’re trying to get around that ruling.”
Testa also said that he had emails from the Secretary of the State’s attorneys as recently as Thursday morning saying that a recount based on the close vote did not apply.
Mastroianni, who sent a letter to the town requesting a recount based on his one-vote loss, said he had his hopes up for Saturday’s results.
“I won my line by 200 votes, and I feel good about that,” he said. “Technically, I lost by default.” Tim Pelland, Testa’s running mate, had 499 votes.
Mastroianni pointed out that voters were forced to split their votes for selectman three ways, between himself, Donahue and Pelland. In the race for first selectman, voters chose between two candidates, Testa and Mullane.
“I won that seat, to a certain extent, on its own merit,” Mastroianni said.