With a challenge of the absentee ballots still a possibility by Republican candidate Barry Lee Cohen, a recount Sunday solidified the win Nov. 2 win of incumbent Mayor Nancy Rossi, Sunday Cohen, whose attorney questioned the legality of some of the ballots, still has until next week to determine whether he should mount a court challenge (See related story).
The recount gave Rossi a 34-vote margin of victory, 4,75-4,243.
Following the recount, both Rossi and Cohen were asked for final statements regarding the campaign and the results.
Rossi said she was thankful for the voters giving her another chance to serve.
“I am thankful to the voters of West Haven for allowing me the privilege to continue serving them as mayor for another two years,”
She did admit the recent arrest of former city worker and State Rep. Michael DiMassa and worker John Bernardo had a telling effect.
“The scandal and arrests regarding the federal CARES Act has me physically sick and the fact that it happened on my watch personally hurts me. Although I will not take responsibility for the illegal actions of those involved in this alleged embezzlement scheme, I do take responsibility for this happening during my term. It hurts me physically and emotionally—I will make sure that every last penny of the Cares Act funding is accounted for, and all the individuals involved in this alleged embezzlement scheme will be arrested and held responsible for their actions,” she said
She said changes are in the wind following the recent arrests.
“I will make the changes necessary to our internal and financial control system to make sure this never happens in our city again. We have so many good projects happening on the horizonm and I look forward to advancing all of them,” she said.
She asked for unity, now that the election is over.
“I ask all of our residents, whether you voted for me or not, to come together and join me in continuing the improvement of West Haven over the next two years. I promise you that we will get through these rough times and will rebound wiser and stronger,” she said.
Cohen, meanwhile, thanked voters for their support, and encouragement.
“Thank you, West Haven! I am humbled by your support that was epitomized by your trust and votes on Nov. 2. Your unwavering dedication, friendship, and love prior to, during and since last Tuesday has warmed my heart and made me a better man. I will always embrace, cherish, and honor this extraordinary journey for a lifetime,” he said.
He then reiterated the theme the city is in need of real change.
“No matter the outcome of the election, one message rings loud and clear: Westies are demanding a change in leadership. As most recently witnessed in the last few days with the hiring of a marching band and the purchase of Christmas decorations using COVID funds, the public’s trust continues to be shattered and dismay grows while West Haven’s reputation gets dragged through the mud. This is in addition to the appalling financial mismanagement that has resulted in a forensic audit by the OPM, the potential withholding of funds and strong rebuke of our current administration by MARB, and the ongoing FBI investigations which to date has resulted in two arrests, with more on the way,” he said.
He said the wrongdoers will be punished, but those who were complicit need accountability.
“Be assured, those responsible that cast this dark cloud on our city will be held accountable and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Others who were complicit should do the honorable act and resign. Please remain Westie Strong,” he said. “These individuals do not represent us. Stay positive and proud, however, please do not allow the heinous actions — and inaction — of those involved go unchallenged.”
He then turned to his potential challenge.
Severe absentee ballot irregularities that were clearly identified on Nov. 2, have since dramatically escalated, and were further verified during the recount. This, in addition to the ongoing scandals, have bred contempt throughout our city and statewide. A recanvass, as required by law, has not yet been conducted. Due to the public’s growing consternation my team is reviewing all options at my personal expense with the singular mission to ensure that every ballot cast was counted appropriately. It’s not about winning or losing an election; it is and always has been about ensuring the integrity of our election process,” he said.
He repeated his belief his campaign was a boost to the city and thanked the voters.
“I am so very proud of the clean campaign and tireless work of my team which I will forever be indebted. Comprised of Democrats, Republicans, Independents, and Unaffiliated, each of you, along with 50% of the voters agree that it is all about Us,” he said. “ Whatever the future may hold, have no doubt I will continue my mission and my love for One West Haven.”