FAIRFIELD — A Tuesday recount of the Nov. 7 election officially named Democratic challenger Bill Gerber the next first selectman, beating Republican incumbent Brenda Kupchick by just 37 votes.
The results of last week’s election put Gerber 42 votes ahead of Kupchick, a small enough margin to trigger an automatic recount. On Tuesday, recanvass officials from each party spent more than nine hours counting the 17,889 votes cast.
At around 7 p.m. Gerber, a member of the Representative Town Meeting, greeted his fellow Democrats at the Bigelow Center for Senior Activities and declared victory. The final count had Gerber with 8,963 votes, or about 50.1 percent, and Kupchick with 8,926, or 48.9 percent.
At the senior center, Gerber told CT Examiner he is excited to get to work and has enjoyed waiting for a final result.
“I’ve been really invigorated by this whole thing,” Gerber said. “And I kind of enjoyed the closeness of the last week, the 42 vote margin.”
When he takes office, Gerber said he will focus on handling the United Illuminating project and the construction and remediation work at Penfield Pavilion.
Gerber added that he wants to ensure his opponent’s commitment to serving the town does not get lost in his win.
“She deserves a lot of thanks,” he said of Kupchick. “She was on the RTM, Board of Ed, served for many years as a state representative, and then as first selectwoman. She’s put in a lot of service for the town.”
In a Tuesday message to CT Examiner, Kupchick, who took office in 2019 and served one four-year term, conceded. Republicans called the integrity of the recount into question earlier on Tuesday, but Kupchick said she called Gerber to congratulate him on his win.
Kupchick urged the new first selectman to work collaboratively with officials from both parties.
“My hope is that he will put politics aside for the betterment of our town and work across the aisle to continue the important work ahead,” Kupchick said. “While disappointed in the outcome, I am proud of the positive campaign we ran and am proud of all we accomplished together in the last four years.”
Kupchick also pointed to her years of service for the town, and reflected on her tenure as first selectwoman.
“It has been the honor of my life to serve as Fairfield’s first selectwoman. I am incredibly grateful to the people of Fairfield for entrusting me with this great responsibility and privilege,” she said. “It was a very challenging four years but also the most rewarding in all my years of public service. We were able to make great strides to make Fairfield better for everyone.”
A recount of the RTM District 2 race also put Democrats ahead of Republicans. The Nov. 7 results put Republican Christopher Shea on top with 708 votes, Democrat Tara Cook-Littman second with 704 votes, and Amy O’Shea in third with 669 votes. But the race for the fourth seat prompted a recount, as Republican RTM Minority Leader Ed Bateson was only one vote ahead of Democrat Dave Rock — 644 votes versus 643.
But the Tuesday recount named Rock the winner of the last seat, with 646 votes compared to Bateson’s 644. At the senior center, RTM Democratic Majority Leader Elizabeth Zezima told CT Examiner that Rock’s win cements Democratic leadership and changes Republican dynamics in the legislative body.
“We have a 31-9 majority, and it shakes up their leadership,” Zezima said. “Certainly now, they no longer have the leadership structure they had.”
Zezima said Democrats intend to use their continued leadership on the RTM, which originally had 23 Democrats and 17 Republicans, to restore funds that have been cut from the budget and break votes on resolutions.
The final Tuesday recount by election officials does not include the results of the constable race.