And what the majority of voters decided was that they liked things just the way they were. First Selectman Edward Haberek Jr. was re-elected for a fourth term, beating Selectwoman Glee McAnanly by a vote of 2,430 to 2,385, a narrow 45-vote margin.
Haberek overcame negative reaction to a personal lawsuit by resident Tracy Swain to retain his seat. On the positive side, he received praise for keeping taxes down, bringing new business to town, and effectively managing the town during the several natural disasters in the past few years.
McAnanly will return to the Board of Selectmen, where she will serve her third term. Joining them will be Crouse, who will also return for a third term. Crouse beat former First Selectman William Brown by a vote of 2,893 to 1,835.
“It’s just a great night,” said an emotional Haberek after waiting nearly two hours for the results. The Democrat, his face sunburned from standing outside the polls all day, hugged his family and friends as the results were read.
“It’s been a long campaign,” he said. “I feel very blessed.”
Re-election was tough this year, he explained, because he had less time to campaign. But now that he’s back in office for another two-year term, he said, one of his highest priorities will be finishing up the roads and fields projects that he started earlier this calendar year. He thanked the voters, his family, and his supporters.
Crouse, the highest vote-getter on the board, said he was much less stressed now that the election is over.
“It was a very hard campaign,” said the Democrat. “The opposition was very charged in its efforts. I want to thank the voters. I’ve always tried to do things to make Stonington better, and we’ll continue.”
“That’s what my goal is,” he continued. “A better town.”
McAnanly, a Republican, still smiling after her close loss, said, “It is a privilege to run for office and it’s a privilege to serve.”
She enjoyed her campaigning, she noted, especially being able to meet with young voters and encourage their own public service. Mentoring new volunteers had been part of her campaign platform.
“It’s amazing how many people don’t want to run,” she said. “It’s tough.”
Looking back, would she have done anything differently? “Not a thing,” she said, adding that one of her goals was to wake up on Nov. 6 with no regrets.
“I think we did a great job,” she said.
The one change in Town Hall is the treasurer’s position. Challenger Paul Cravinho, a Democrat and former probate judge for many years, defeated incumbent Republican Martha Brown Booker by a vote of 2,553 to 2,116.
The Board of Finance candidates were incumbents who will return to the board. Democrat June Strunk received 2,330 votes and Republican Dudley Wheeler received 2,230 votes. Incumbent Town Clerk Cynthia Ladwig, a Democrat who was endorsed by both parties and was the sole candidate for her office, received 4,566 votes. Incumbent Tax Collector Gisela Harma, a Republican who was endorsed by both parties and the sole candidate for that office, received 4,492 votes.
The two candidates for the Board of Assessment Appeals are incumbents who will both return to the board. Republican Stephen Palmer, chairman, received 2,217 votes and Democrat Betty Richards received 2,158 votes.
On the Board of Education, the three incumbents were all re-elected. The top vote-getter was Democrat and Chairwoman Gail MacDonald, with 3,138 votes. Democrat Alisa Morrison received 2,907 votes, and Republican Faith Leitner garnered 2,733 votes. The fourth open position on the board will go to Republican Alexa Garvey, who received 2,727 votes. Democrat Terry Stefansky, the fifth candidate, received 2,640 votes.
Eight constable candidates were all elected to the position. The constable position is required by charter but no longer has official duties.
Voter turnout, at least in the Fifth District polling place, the Pawcatuck Fire Station, was steady.
“We’re having a very good turnout,” said ballot clerk Julie Saponara in the early afternoon. “We’ve been nice and busy since 6 this morning.”
“I think it’s very busy, actually,” said poll moderator Peggy Cawley. “Steady since 6 this morning.”
Of the town’s 12,437 voters, 39 percent, or 4,896 voters, cast a ballot Tuesday.
Voters leaving the polls cited a variety of issues that influenced their votes, such as schools, taxes, and businesses.
But Pawcatuck voter Bill Nagy summed up the results as he spoke about why he voted the way he did.