Democrats bask in Young’s victory
Updated 5:46 pm, Wednesday, February 28, 2018
STRATFORD — Four months ago, town Democrats were picking themselves off the floor after a disastrous rout in local races. Not only was a Republican mayor elected but the Town Council’s 7-3 Democratic majority flipped upside-down.
Then Feb. 27 arrived, the date for the special election for the vacancy in Assembly District 120. Republican Bill Cabral, an old hand at local politics, was the odds-on favorite over Democrat Phil Young.
Young, confounding many in the town’s political landscape, scored an upset victory, winning by less than 60 votes in a House district that’s been a reliable GOP stronghold. The last time voters in the 120th sent a Democrat to Hartford was in 1974, when the late Michael Turiano was elected to the seat.
“The seventh Town Council District was their firewall,” said Stephanie Philips, chairwoman of the Democratic Town Committee, “and we broke through that. We won in the seventh, and that speaks volumes.”
The seventh, which votes at Wilcoxson School, went for Young 353 to 346. It wasn’t a landslide by any means, but, Philips said, it was significant nonetheless.
Cabral represented the 7th District on Stratford's Town Council from 1995 to 2001. He served on the Board of Education after that, and also on a number of other town committees and commissions over the years. Young served on the Town Council, representing District 6 during the tumultuous 2016-17 term.
“We stayed positive and we focused on kitchen-table issues like school safety, opioid addiction and education funding,” Philips said.
About 150 volunteers, some from out-of-town, helped Young out. She also said that some help may have come from the White House as comments from President Donald Trump have turned off many to Republicans.
“The race was getting national attention,” she said.
But Republican Town Committee Chairman Lou DeCilio said that Young’s victory isn’t as earth-shattering as the Democrats are saying.
“The fact is, the 120th has 1,400 more registered Democrats than Republicans, so this win — by 60 votes — it clearly not a mandate by any means.”
DeCilio said that he would have liked to see a debate between Young and Cabral.
Both DeCilio and Philips could agree on one thing — the sparse turnout probably had little effect on the results. Only 17.5 percent of the electorate showed up at the polls, an embarrassingly low turnout even for a special election.
“With results that close, it still could have gone either way,” DeCilio said. “A better turnout may not have helped Bill, and it may not have hurt Bill.”
“The turnout made a sad statement — no matter what party you’re in,” Philips said.
As for who will run in November for the 120th, the Democrats already have their man — Young. DeCilio said that the RTC will have to come to a consensus in the coming months on who they’ll run against him.
“We still have plenty of time to look for a candidate,” he said.
The election was needed after the Jan. 2 resignation of Laura Hoydick, whoresigned from her 120th seat after she was elected mayor in November.
The district has 18,118 registered voters. Of these, 5,361 are Democrats, 3,958 are Republicans, 8,601 are unaffiliated and 198 belong to minor parties.