Kevin Moynihan Wins New Canaan First Selectman Race by 33 Votes [UPDATED]

Kevin Moynihan, a longtime resident and community volunteer who has served for four years on the Town Council, won election to New Canaan’s top municipal office on Tuesday by 33 votes.

Kevin Moynihan moments after learning he won election to first selectman of New Canaan. Credit: Michael Dinan

The Republican earned 2,684 votes in a widely anticipated first selectman race against Democrat Kit Devereaux, who received 2,651 votes, according to figures supplied by the New Canaan Registrars of Voters.

The .6 percent margin of victory —a math-defying outcome, given the party makeup of New Canaan’s electorate—narrowly beats the state-mandated recount figure of .5 percent.

Moynihan said he felt “wonderful” though “we expected to do better, quite honestly.”

“I am surprised it was so close,” he told NewCanaanite.com. “I think there were several headwinds we had, it’s pretty obvious to everyone what they were. But now we move forward. It’s a very humbling experience, to go through this process and deal with different constituents and voters. It’s been fun in a lot of ways and rough in a lot of ways.”

He added: “Kit is a terrific lady. That was never an issue in terms of someone you can work with.”

Kit Devereaux, right, ran for first selectman as a Democrat. Here she is with husband Robert and Louis Armstrong, a standard poodle, at New Canaan Democrats headquarters on Election Day, Nov. 7, 2017. Credit: Shiva Saram

A past member of the Board of Finance and Town Council herself, who also served on the Charter Revision Commission and, most recently, Parks & Recreation Commission, Devereaux made for one of the most formidable Democrats in memory to seek the town’s top job.

Devereaux during an interview called the results “pretty amazing.”

“I think Kevin ran a great campaign and I am looking forward to representing everyone from my seat on the Board of Selectmen and I will be working as hard as I can for New Canaan.”

Tuesday’s result means she has been voted in as selectman for the town. Devereaux will sit with Moynihan and incumbent Republican Selectman Nick Williams on the New Canaan Board of Selectmen, the executive branch of municipal government. Williams ran uncontested and received 3,827 total votes.

Here’s a look at voter results:

2017 Election Results, Contested Races

OfficeCandidateVotes
First SelectmanKit Devereaux (D)2,651
Kevin Moynihan (R)*2,684
TreasurerRob Fryer (D)2,134
Andrew Brooks (R)*3,055
Town CouncilColm Dobbyn (D)2,586
Liz Donovan (D)*2,802
Sven Englund (D)*2,872
Tom Butterworth (R)*3,592
John Engel (R)*3,560
Rich Townsend (R)*3,804
Penny Young (R)*3,616
Source: Registrars of Voters
*indicates winners

 

Moynihan prevailed in New Canaan’s first voting district—which covers the western and northern parts of town—by a 1,458 to 1,257 margin, while Devereaux won voting districts two and three by a combined total of 1,177 to 1,048. She also earned more absentee ballot votes by a 217 to 178 margin.

Given New Canaan’s party count—Republicans outnumber Democrats by a more than 2-to-1 ratio—the narrow margin likely will surprise many in town. Republican Scott Gress, speaking at the party’s caucus in July, cautioned those in attendance that the gathering was “extremely important.”

“Because let’s face it: We are choosing the next officers,” he said at the caucus. “With all due respect to the Democrats, this is the election.”

Yet the Democrats rallied, forgoing the nomination of a selectman candidate to run against Williams, effectively funneling local party support toward Devereaux at the top of the ticket, followed by strong candidates for treasurer and Town Council.

Devereaux and Moynihan debated in October, and though her campaign raised far less money overall, and consequently spent less than his, it also outspent the Republican’s campaign for that homestretch month.

Here’s a party breakdown of New Canaan voters:

New Canaan Party Count

 RepublicanDemocratUnaffilatedOtherTotal
Townwide6,4252,8694,15414113,589
*Source: New Canaan Town Clerk (data as of Oct. 3, 2017)

 

In all, 5,281 New Canaan voters cast ballots—a very high number for a municipal year, representing nearly 39 percent of the electorate.

Here’s a look at voter turnout on Tuesday compared to recent years:

New Canaan Voter Turnout, Recent Local Elections

YearVoter Turnout
20175,281
20153,674
20133,481
20112,977
20093,437
Source: Secretary of the State

 

Andrew Brooks, incumbent Republican town treasurer, on Election Day, Nov. 7, 2017. Credit: Michael Dinan

Republican incumbent Town Treasurer Andrew Brooks earned re-election for the position, defeating Democratic challenger Rob Fryer 3,055 to 2,134.

In an interview with NewCanaanite.com, Brooks said he was “at a loss for words.”

“I’m thrilled that I had such a clear mandate from the voters and that they want me to continue serving them and continue adding value for them and I am really thrilled I can have the opportunity to continue doing what I have been doing for the last four years.”

Rich Townsend, a Republican, won on the Town Council, on Election Day, Nov. 7, 2017. Credit: Michael Dinan

Seven candidates for the Town Council—four Republicans and three Democrats—vied for six seats on the legislative body. The Democrats were seeking to “pick up” a seat on the Council, but fell short, with incumbent Sven Englund and Liz Donovan getting on by earning more votes than Colm Dobbyn.

Electors returned Republican incumbents John Engel and Penny Young to the Council, and also voted in Tom Butterworth and Rich Townsend.

John Engel, incumbent Republican member of the Town Council, on Election Day, Nov. 7, 2017. Credit: Michael Dinan

As he had been at the caucus, Townsend was the high vote-getter among Republican candidates for the Council with 3,804 votes.

Town Clerk Claudia Weber had the most votes of any candidate for any office, at 4,119.

Others voted into elected office include Board of Education members Sheri West (2,955 votes), Penny Rashin (3,001), Katrina Parkhill (3,689), Dionna Carlson (3,682) and Jennifer Richardson (3,753), Board of Assessment Appeals members Janis Hennessey (3,580), Bob Avery (3,003) and Gerry Harrington (2,243), and Constables Roger Williams (2,857), Mary Anne Marcella (2,946), Cindy Franco (2,379), Arvind Bajaj (2,469), Gregory Pepe (2,558), Ed Vollmer (2,044) and Nick Mitrakis (1,760).

5 thoughts on “Kevin Moynihan Wins New Canaan First Selectman Race by 33 Votes [UPDATED]

  1. Congratulations to all candidates for “stepping up to the plate” to serve our community. And a round of applause to their supporters, many behind the scene, who worked tirelessly in making this a very dynamic and exciting election.

    The 2017 municipal race drew record numbers of voters so it demonstrated that our residents were engaged, more so than in prior years, but we’re still not close to the halfway mark.

    While not everyone can be a winner, we can work together to keep New Canaan a very special town.

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