Unofficial Results Show Wellman Winning Close Race For Simsbury First Selectman; Recount Possible

In a very close election, it appears that Democrat Eric Wellman, a relative newcomer to town, squeaked by Republican challenger Michael Paine in Simsbury’s first selectman race by 33 votes.

Wellman received 2,954 votes to Paine’s 2,921, according to the Registrar of Voters office.

Due to a number of write-in votes that will not be tallied until Wednesday, it was unclear whether a state-mandated recount would be necessary.

State law provides that any election decided by less than one-half of 1 percent of total votes is subject to an automatic recount. In this case Paine would need to be behind 29 votes or less to trigger the recount.

Wellman, who has lived in Simsbury for a little more than two years, said Tuesday night he was honored to win such a close race.

“I was running against a very tough opponent who had incredible name recognition in town,” Wellman said. “But I have been working hard since June going door to door meeting hundreds of people. It was a very grass-roots effort that put me in contact with a lot of people who I would never have met.”

Paine received enough votes to win a seat on the board of selectmen.

"I am very surprised but this is democracy at work," Paine said. "I am looking forward to being on the board of selectmen. I bring a lot of experience that will benefit the town."

Paine said he will trust that the professionals who oversee voting will determine if there will be a recount.

"The rules are the rules and we will abide by them," he said.

Paine will be joined on the selectmen by fellow Republicans Cheryl Cook and Sean Askham, both incumbents. Democrats Chris Kelly, an incumbent, and Chris Peterson also won seats on the board of selectmen. Kelly had the most votes overall with 3,158.

Current First Selectwoman Lisa Heavner and Republican Derek Peterson were elected to the town’s board of finance, while Democrat Tara Willerup and Republican Lydia Tedone were elected to the board of education.

Heavner got more votes than any other candidate with 4,207.

A steady but slow stream of voters turned out Tuesday as the town readied itself gets ready to switch to a town manager form of government, meaning that the first selectman will no longer be the town’s top administrator.

Wellman said the new arrangement could begin as early as Dec. 4.

This also was the first election where new redistricting for about 1,500 voters went into effect. The redistricting was done to try and alleviate crowding at the town’s four polling places.

Democratic Registrar of Voters Karen Cortes said at midday Tuesday that the there had no problems with people going to the wrong polls.

“We had a few calls from people checking to make sure they had the right polling place before they went but overall there were no issues with people showing up at the wrong polling place,” Cortes said.

Affected households received a mailing with details on where they were supposed to vote, signs were placed on affected streets and the town placed all the new polling data on its website.

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