Just after 8:45pm on Tuesday, November 3rd, officials at the New Haven Free Public Library read the results of the Ward 1 alder race: at first count, Sarah Eidelson ’12 received 376 votes, with Ugonna Eze ’16 bringing in 326. At that time, however, 53 votes remained uncounted from voters who registered and voted on the same day at City Hall. Around 9:30pm, as Eidelson supporters gathered on the second floor of City Hall to watch officials count the remaining ballots, the margin grew thinner. Ultimately Eidelson won by just 17 votes.
Both candidates had been sitting outside the library, greeting voters and making last-ditch pitches, from six in the morning until the count was over. Both spoke of their excitement, and Eze especially seemed emotional in the minutes leading up to the announcement.
Although doors were closed by 8:00, voters who had entered before the deadline continued to stand in line, casting the final ballots as press and well wishers gathered inside. Students packed the library basement where the ballots were cast and counted, and, as the ticker tape rolled away and intermittent shushing cooled the murmurs of the crowd, everyone collectively held their breaths. The official reading the results softly announced them, beginning with the Mayor’s race (Toni Harp won effortlessly) before reaching the one that everyone in the room was waiting for.
After an official read the results, and mentioned that 50-odd votes remained uncounted in City Hall, little was said. There was a sharp collective sigh—of relief from the Eidelson crowd, of dejection from Eze’s supporters. Most of the people in the crowd looked around, wondering whether Eidelson had truly won, or if Eze really lost. Soon, however, a few members of Eidelson’s campaign began to clap and chant, and shortly thereafter the room livened up to the calls of her name.
It was not until 9:30 in the evening that the 53 City Hall votes were counted and announced. The closeness of the results does not ultimately reflect a mandate from the constituents of Ward 1. Despite capturing slightly more than 51% of the vote, Eidelson’s victory remained marginal, revealing the strength of the opposition and her constituents’ waning faith in her position as alder.
Eidelson will continue to serve in her position for the next two years, until the next aldermanic election for Ward 1 is held in 2017.