The said it couldn’t be done – but she did it! An admittedly shocked Nancy Rossi emerged from the mixed bag that was Tuesday night’s Democratic Primary and beat incumbent Mayor Edward M. O’Brien. Preliminary totals had Rossi eking out a 2383-2247 win.
She is set to meet Republican candidate David Riccio on Nov. 7 in the general election.
In the process, the candidate who pushed the fact she was a certified public accountant and able to right the city’s longstanding financial woes, she took a possible five of 10 council seats in close voting. Some of those tallies may have to go to recount.
The win was the culmination of months of preparatory work by the Rossi campaign, headed up by former councilman Michael Last. Put on the front burner was the city’s fading financial picture, which has an operating deficit of somewhere around $16 million. That campaign geared up right after the first of the year, taking a page out of O’Brien’s 2012 playbook when he defeated incumbent John Picard.
Rossi used that as the cornerstone of her campaign, accusing the O’Brien administration of failing to balance the budget during its four-year occupancy of City Hall, and, in fact, leading to its doubling.
The City Council earlier this year approved a bond issue to pay off the deficit, but the results of that bond sale have not been made public.
While not a total victory, Rossi’s campaign seems to have picked off five council seats, the first, fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh. She was also expected to get one Board of Education slot away from the erstwhile endorsed slate and possibly took the Tax Collector and City Treasurer positions.
The campaign was contentious and sometimes nasty between Rossi and O’Brien, with both candidates exchanging barbs.
Meanwhile, O’Brien touted his administration’s economic development successes, including the Haven, the Atwood, and others. He maintained the city’s economic success is contingent upon increasing the tax base through development.
Rossi stayed on message following the victory.
Happy but stunned as she stood with supporters at her Savin Rock Parkade headquarters, she promised to begin balancing the city’s books straightway.