By SHERIDAN ROY
The election results for the 30th House of Representatives district, representing portions of Berlin and Southington, can finally be put to rest. Speaker of the House Joe Aresimowicz (D-30) will keep his seat for the next two years.
In the hours following the tallying of the unofficial results, the Secretary of the State issued a notice of mandatory recount for the 30th house district, since Aresimowicz and his Republican opponent, Mike Gagliardi, were only 37 votes apart. Aresimowicz had a slight lead in the highly-contested race.
Town clerks in Southington and Berlin were tasked with impounding all voting machines, absentee ballot materials, moderator’s returns and all other notes, worksheets or written materials used in the election, and recanvassing the results by Wednesday, Nov. 14. The recount results widened the gap of the votes from 37 to 50.
But it didn’t end there. The state Republican Party was considering legal action.
Gagliardi entered the race after Republican Steve Baleskishi, a college student from Southington, faced criticism for Facebook posts he made. The posts went viral, and caused both Southington and Berlin Republican Town Committees to withdraw their support for the candidate. Baleshiski withdrew from the race on Oct. 12, and Gagliardi entered the race on Oct. 15.
As a result of the late withdrawal and entry, some absentee ballots were sent out before Baleshiski withdrew, and those ballots included his name. Ballots that came back supporting Baleshiski were not counted. The state Republican Party was concerned about Republican votes that were cast in the race before Gagliardi was named as the candidate.
The lawsuit would need Gagliardi’s support before it went forward, and he is not pushing for it.
“I accept the results of the recount on Nov. 13, and I offer my concession in the race for the 30th district state house of representatives,” he said in an email. “I offer my congratulations to Joe Aresimiowicz on his re-election, and I wish him the best. I do hope that Joe will work together with Republicans to make this state more attractive to businesses and ease the tax burden on everyone.”
Gagliardi said he hopes the absentee ballot process will be addressed going forward.
“Every vote must count, and that was not the case in this election,” he said. “I want to thank all of the many volunteers in Berlin and Southington who worked tirelessly to create a very successful campaign in just three short weeks. The odds were against us, but we turned the race into a historically close contest.”
For Aresimowicz, he looks forward to getting back to business now that the election is behind him.
“It’s time to move forward. For me, it’s always about getting the work done for the district and trying to move Connecticut forward,” he said.
Aresimowicz said that this will be his last term in office. He said he looks forward to investing in the workforce development, vocational-tech schools, private and community colleges, and Connecticut’s infrastructure. He also hopes to invest in Connecticut’s strengths, specifically citing tourism.
“This is a great state, with great locations, and people who want to come here,” he said. “We need to ensure that we are moving forward with a comprehensive plan.”
Now in his final term in office, Aresimowicz said he feels alleviated of some of the pressure that comes with eyeing further political offices. He hopes this will be beneficial in his work.
To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Sheridan Roy, email her at SRoy@SouthingtonObserver.com.