Democratic newcomer tops field, says days of 'machine politics' are over in New London
New London — Mayor-elect Daryl Justin Finizio is about to announce the head of his transition team.
Finizio, who won the mayoral election Tuesday, has called a press conference for 3 p.m. at his home on Ocean Avenue to elaborate on transition procedures and timelines.
He is also expected to announced he is closing out his "Finizio for Mayor'' campaign account, and thank William "Billie" Bourque for his services as campaign chairman and treasurer.
Bourque will not be part of the new transition team, Finizio said, in keeping with his promise that those who worked on his election or contributed to his campaign would have no role in the new administration.
Voters spoke loudly Tuesday, choosing change over the status quo and political newcomer Daryl Justin Finizio as the city's first elected mayor in nine decades.
Finizio, an attorney who moved here about 18 months ago, shook up the established Democratic party by winning a primary and then handily defeating five challengers, including three sitting city councilors.
"Many asked if the promise of change was just a campaign slogan,'' Finizio said, about an hour after the polls closed Tuesday night. "I want to be very clear, the era of machine politics in New London is over.''
Hundreds of supporter who packed a second-floor banquet room at Dev's on Bank restaurant erupted into applause and cheers.
"This is because of you,'' he said to the crowd. "It's because you never lost your hope, you kept the faith and you worked hard. It's because of you New London has new leadership.''
Supporter Sean Murray said Finizio's election signals a positive change for the city.
"I've lived here my entire life and I never thought this would happen," the 30-year-old said. "I have never been more proud of my city. It feels like the whole city is brand new."
In unofficial numbers from the Republican Town Committee headquarters, Finizio won 2,185 votes. Democrat Michael Buscetto III, a two-term city councilor who ran a write-in campaign after losing the primary, pulled in 1,153 votes, and Republican Rob Pero, a city councilor for 16 years, received 1,057 votes.
City Councilor Martin T. Olsen Jr., Lori Hopkins-Cavanagh and Andrew Lockwood, all petitioning candidates, all finished with fewer than 200 votes apiece.
In a concession speech at Republican headquarters, Pero thanked his supporters and congratulated Finizio. He urged his workers to support the new mayor.
"We all need to get behind him,'' Pero said. "We are all New Londoners. ... This new government will need your help. I will do all I can do advocate for this city."
Choking up as he spoke, Pero thanked his wife, Dora, for her steady support.
"My kids have missed me for a long time,'' he said. "We'll be home spending a lot of time together."
Nearly 5,000, or roughly 40 percent, of the city's 12,793 voters show up at the polls. In the 2009 municipal election, about 3,300 people voted.
At Finizio's victory party, the mayor-elect also congratulated his fellow Democrats who won six seats on the City Council and five seats on the Board of Education.
Democrats Wade Hyslop Jr., Anthony Nolan, Michael Passero, John J. Maynard, Marie Friess-McSparran and Donald Macrino, along with Republican Adam Sprecace, were elected to the City Council.
He said although he has disagreed with his opponents, the race was never personal.
Democratic Town Committee Chairman William Satti said he was surprised by the margin of victory for Finizio, considering there were many disenchanted Democrats "who worked in other camps."
"The people of New London are tired of petty politics. They want a fresh start,'' he said.
The new mayor will take control of a city that has been run by a professional city manager for nine decades. The mayor will serve a four-year term and receive an annual salary of $86,000.
The city was teeming with election activity Tuesday.
Supporters stood on street corners, waved signs and rallied around their candidates. Pero had his three children in tow for much of the morning. Finizio went from polling place to polling place, stopping briefly at Democratic headquarters on State Street for a drink of water. Buscetto took time out in the afternoon to toss a football with some of the youngsters who live in the Thames River Apartments.