Latino candidates achieved some major successes in Tuesday’s local elections across Connecticut, including the election of the first Latino, Yolanda Castillo, to Manchester’s Board of Directors.
In addition, Latinos now hold six seats on New Britain Board of Alders. Four are Democrats who helped gain their party a 9-6 majority, and two are Republican incumbents. State Rep. Robert Sanchez commented on Facebook that he believed this is the first time six Latinos will serve on the New Britain Council.
Joseph Rodriguez, a statewide Democratic and Hispanic leader, also saw a broader impact on Tuesday’s results. “We have always known what happens locally has a say in what happens nationally and tonight Manchester showed what happens nationally also has an impact locally. That factored in with hard-working candidates is why Yolanda and others won.”
For Castillo, who has been a political and community leader for three decades, Tuesday’s landmark victory in a town where the Latino population is estimated at 14 percent and growing, brought elation and enthusiasm for what lies ahead. “It feels great. Can’t wait to get to work,” she said.
Castillo was born in Hartford and is a member of one of the first Puerto Rican families to migrate to that city. She has held various offices in her hometown and founded several organizations devoted to the Latino population including the Hartford Puerto Rican Parade. She also has served the state as rehabilitation counselor for the disabled, as a member of the now eliminated Latino and Puerto Rico Affairs Commission and as a leader of the Connecticut Hispanic Democratic Caucus.
Hanging over Tuesday’s elections was how the policies and rhetoric of President Trump and national Republicans would impact the local voting. Nationally, anti-Trump candidates won the featured governors races in New Jersey and Virginia, but in Connecticut, party leaders tended to focus on local issues and activism as key factors, although a Republican leader in Fairfield County pointed to a “Trump tsunami” hurting his party.
Democratic state Chairman Nick Balletto said change starts locally and expressed pleasure that his party had done well in flipping mayor’s seats in some towns and built up council majorities in the cities, which included a sweep in Bridgeport. He said his party had turned “grassroots energy” into momentum Tuesday “to mount a strong effort in 2018 and beyond” when statewide and national offices will be at stake.
In other local elections:
Several Latinos won seats as the Democrats swept the City Council races. They include Alfredo Castillo and Maria Zambrano Viggiano in District 136, Aidee Nieves and Maria I. Valle in District 137, Eneida Martinez in District 139. There is also Carmen Roman-Hatton in the 135th; the first Latina to hold that seat. Also two Latinos were elected to Board of Education: Jessica Muniz-Martinez and Hernan Illingworth.
Eloisa Melendez, a 23-year-old college student, won her third term representing District A on the city council. A Democrat, Melendez and her first-time running mate Christopher Yerinides were also endorsed by the Working Families Party. Republican Hector Correa, who also had WFP backing, was unsuccessful in District B.
Democratic Council member Miguel Castro won his first term and Marisol Estrada (D) was elected to the Board of Education.
Democrats took control of the Board of Alders with Emmanuel Sanchez, Yvonne Muniz and Richard Reyes elected to at-large seats on the Board. All three’s totals were buoyed by votes garnered on the Working Families Party line. Sanchez previously had represented Ward 3.
In Ward 1, Republican Wilfredo Pabon, an incumbent, won a seat. In Ward 2, Kristian Rosado, an unaffiliated incumbent endorsed by the Republicans, was elected again.
In Ward 3, Democrat Iris Sanchez was the top vote-getter.
Ward 5 Democrat Francisco Santiago was elected with Republican Carmelo Rodriguez coming up less than 180 votes short.
Board of Education winners included Democrats Violet Sims and incumbent Daisy Sanchez as well as Republican Nancy Rodriguez.
Ram Aberasturia, who was appointed to the council in 2011 and elected in 2013 and 2015, was one of six Democrats winning Council seats. Newcomer Caroline Torres was elected as a Republican in what was an uncontested election with nine people running for nine seats.
Incumbent Juan Manuel Hernandez, a Democrat, was one of four Board of Education winners, in the city’s only contest.
Four Latinos, all Democrats, were elected to the Board of Representatives. They are Virgil De La Cruz (District 2), Gloria Depina (District 5), Anabel Figueroa (District 8), Matt Quinones (District 16). Republican Benjamin Aponte lost in District 12.
Elma Palma, a Republican, won re-election to the Council from Ward 2. Another Republican, Emanuela Palmares, was unsuccessful in her second bid for the Board of Election.
Democrat Efrain Dominquez, an incumbent, and Alma Nartatez were elected to the City Council. Board of Education winners included Mirna Martinez of the Green Party and Democrat Manny Rivera.
Six Latino Democrats were elected to the Board of Alders: Dist. 4, Evelyn Rodriguez; Dist. 5, David Reyes; Dist. 6, Dolores Colon; Dist. 14, Kenneth Reveiz; Dist. 15, Ernie Santiago; Dist. 16, Jose Crespo.
Democrat Michael Gonzalez was re-elected to the Board of Education.
Rose Reyes of the Working Families Party was elected to the Town Council from the Willimantic voting district. Jaime Gomez, a Democrat, was elected to the Board of Education.
David Pena, an incumbent, was the top vote-getter and the only Democrat elected in the race for five seats on the Town Council.
Nilda Negron, a Democrat, fell about 120 votes short of being elected to the Board of Education.
Naomi Rodriquez, a Republican, lost by less than 50 votes in her attempt to become the first Latina on the Town council.
Appointed incumbents James Martinez and Carlos Reinoso Jr. fell short in their attempt to win election to the school board.
Democrats Victor Lopez Jr. (Dist. 2) and Sandra Martinez-McCarthy (Dist. 5) were elected to the Board of Aldermen.
Juanita Hernandez, a Democrat was elected to the Board of Education.