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DiGiovanni Jr. wins Derby Republican mayoral primary, recount reinforces

Challenger Gino DiGiovanni Jr. and incumbent mayor Richard Dziekan were just 10 votes apart when votes were counted Tuesday.

DERBY, Conn. — A vote recount Friday determined Alderman and party-endorsed candidate Gino DiGiovanni Jr. won the Derby Republican mayoral primary election.

“I was confident that the results were going to hold and we proved that this afternoon,” DiGiovanni said Friday.

The recount took place at Derby City Hall and was open to the public. Both candidates, DiGiovanni and incumbent mayor Richard Dziekan, watched along with other spectators and waited for the final results.

On Tuesday, Dziekan had 192 votes while DiGiovanni had 202. Races decided by fewer than 20 votes trigger an automatic recount. The recount on Friday confirmed Tuesday's tally.

“We worked hard to get to where we are right now," DiGiovanni said. "I'm happy the process is finally over so that we can move forward and get to the voters.”

“There was a process and I'm glad it's working," added Dziekan.

Dziekan is running for his fourth term as mayor but did not seek his party’s endorsement, instead collecting enough signatures to trigger this primary.

“Reaching out to the citizens and to the voters, they elected me for three terms," he explained. "Now we have the independents and unaffiliated. That's gonna be a tough battle for him, with the baggage that he's carrying right now, so I feel very comfortable.”

DiGiovanni, 42, is currently facing federal charges for entering the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

“If that's baggage, you know, I'll take it for whatever his comment was, but this is the first time in Derby's history that this race is on a national scale," said DiGiovanni. "So I'll take that, you know, any day of the week.”

DiGiovanni was arrested on Aug. 15 but says there won’t be movement in his case until after the November general election.

“If everybody in the country nationwide and not just statewide, want to interview me and put Derby on the map, I'll take that,” he continued. 

Regardless of the final Republican primary results, as a petitioning candidate, Dziekan will still appear on the November ballot as non-affiliated.

“I’m born and raised in this city, I know my voters," Dziekan said. "Sure, you get some people who aren’t happy with some things that happen, you can’t make everybody happy every day, but I’m still confident that we’re going to have enough votes to carry us through for another term.”

It is unclear how much appeal DiGiovanni will have to Derby's broader electorate. Democrats outnumber Republicans by nearly 2 to 1 in the city.

DiGiovanni's win comes amid a politically rightward shift that's occurred recently in some local Republican town committees across Connecticut, a state where Democrats usually dominate top political offices, but where moderate GOP candidates running on a platform of fiscal responsibility have long done well at the local level.

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That shift has not always translated into more success on election day.

In the general election, DiGiovanni and Dziekan will face Democrat Joseph DiMartino, president of Derby's Board of Aldermen and Alderwomen. DiMartino ran for mayor in 2021 and lost to Dziekan by only 48 votes.

Derby resident Sharlene McEvoy has also submitted enough signatures to appear as an independent candidate in the general election.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Emma Wulfhorst is a political reporter for FOX61 News. She can be reached at ewulfhorst@fox61.com. Follow her on FacebookX and Instagram.


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