In a special election marked by anemic voter turnout, Democrat Marianne Lassman Fisher emerged from a four-candidate field Tuesday to cruise to victory for the vacant seat for the Greater Windsor District judge of probate seat.
Just 8.1 percent percent of the total registered voters from South Windsor, Windsor and East Windsor, which comprise Probate District 4, cast ballots for any of the four candidates.
In East Windsor, only 337 out of 7,010 registered voters (4.8 percent) cast ballots. The turnout was even worse in Windsor, with just 4.04 percent of the registered voters (777 out of 19,320) showing up at the polls. South Windsor was slightly higher with 2,287 out of 15,192 registered voters - or 15 percent - casting ballots.
Lassman Fisher won with 1,746 votes, compared to Republican challenger Kevin McCann, who placed second with 1,027 votes. Independents Keith Yagaloff and Judy Paquin finished third and fourth, respectively, with 445 and 183 votes.
"I'm honored that the three towns came out and supported me in this election," Lassman Fisher said when reached at her law offices in South Windsor on Tuesday evening. "I'm grateful for all my campaign volunteers who worked hard to make this happen."
McCann, for his part, congratulated Lassman Fisher for what he said was an "honorable" campaign.
"Marianne has been a judge before and she is capable and qualified to do it again and I wish her the best," he said in a telephone interview.
The breakdown of the vote tally by town is as follows:Windsor South Windsor East Windsor Total Kevin McCann (R)
259 641 127 1,027 Marianne Lassman Fisher (D)
326 1,268 152 1,746 Keith Yagaloff (I)
120 284 41 445 Judy Paquin (I)
72 94 17 183
With the victory, Lassman Fisher, a former South Windsor mayor, returns to head a district probate court. She had held the judge of probate seat for South Windsor and East Windsor from 2002 to 2010 before the district was consolidated with Windsor.
Lassman Fisher was defeated by Democrat Brian Griffin in 2010 in an election for the judge of probate seat in the newly created Greater Windsor District.
The special election was held after Griffin died in February. She will serve the remaining two years left on Griffin's four-year term before she faces having to run again.
In July, Lassman Fisher defeated Windsor Democrat Jim Welsh in a primary to capture the Democratic nomination.
The Democrat's victory marked the end of a highly unusual, and sometimes contentious, race. Indeed, contested judge of probate races - let alone ones with four candiates - are rare.
Lassman Fisher, for her part, said that she would savor the victory and look forward to serving the Greater Windsor area, as well as her son's Sept. 2 wedding.
"I'm hoping to maintain the standards that have been in place all these years," she said. "Being in a larger district [with Windsor added] will be a challenge, but I am ready to meet that challenge."
Sign Dispute in East Windsor
Earlier in the day, Yagaloff got into a dispute with deputy registrar of voters Kathleen Bilodeau at the East Windsor Town Hall over the location of one of Yagaloff's campaign signs.
Bilodeau said that Yagaloff's sign violated a town law and a state statute that no campaign sign may be within 75 feet of a polling place. Yagaloff, however, said that he was told that a town law states that campaign signs cannot be put in the ground on public property, but could only be held by candidates. He also said that the ordinance allows for campaign signs to be posted for just 30 days prior to an election and just seven days after. Finally, he said that he was in compliance with the 75-foot rule.
The dispute was resolved when East Windsor police were called and told Yagaloff that they could not prevent Bilodeau from enforcing the town and state laws.
"People are allowed to campaing on public property," Yagaloff said afterward. "I just couldn't spend any more time on it. I'm just surprised by the whole thing."