Democrat Eric Wellman has officially beaten Republican Selectman Mike Paine by 34 votes to become Simsbury’s first selectman.
A recount, ordered because the election results were so close, showed Wellman with 2,942 votes and Paine with 2,908.
“I am so thankful to the voters of Simsbury for giving me this opportunity to serve this beautiful town,” Wellman said when reached by phone Wednesday. “This is a new chapter in Simsbury’s history and I look forward to working with the incoming board of selectmen and the new, soon-to-be-hired town manager to chart the course forward.”
The races for first selectman, board of assessment appeals, planning commission and zoning board of appeals were recounted Tuesday because they were too close to call following last week’s election. State statute requires a recount, also called a recanvass, when margins of victory are less than one-half of 1 percent, Democratic Registrar of Voters Karen Cortes said.
“It put some questions to rest and I would say it reaffirmed our initial election results but it was really important for us to go through this process to keep public trust in elections,” Cortes said.
She added that the close election illustrates the importance of voting.
“If 10 more people from either party had shown up and voted, the margin wouldn’t have been what it was. That’s how close these [races] were,” Cortes said. “We wouldn’t be having this conversation.”
Paine garnered enough votes to return to his seat on the board of selectmen. Voters also re-elected incumbent Republicans Cheryl Cook and Sean Askham and Democrat Chris Kelly. Democrat Chris Peterson was elected to his first term on the board.
The incoming board will meet for the first time on Dec. 4.
All ballots cast on Election Day were recounted in the manner in which they were cast, either via tabulators or by hand. This took place at town hall, Cortes said.
Cortes said the last recanvass took place for one race in 2009.
Republican Sean Brittell won a seat on the board of assessment appeals, with 2,787 votes. Democrat Regina Pynn received 2,766 votes.
Democrat Thomas A. Kyzivat and Republican Craig MacCormac were vying for a seat on the planning commission, while Republicans Diane Madigan and Kathryn Robbins were in a close race for the zoning board of appeals. Results for those races were not available Wednesday afternoon.
The recanvass is estimated to cost about $3,000. The board of selectmen on Monday approved an additional appropriation of up to $5,000 to cover the cost.
Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this story stated that Wellman’s margin of victory was 24 votes. It was 34.