In a year when there was no debate, no real hot-button issue and record-low voter turnout, things could have gone the underdogs' way.
The Berlin Democrats were able to hold off the upset and kept all five seats on the town council. The Republicans showed growth and strength in gaining ground on the Democratic machine, but it wasn't enough and only two Republicans will sit on the council.
Mayor Adam Salina was the top vote-getter, followed by Democratic ticketmates Bill Rasmussen, Rachel Rochette and William Watson. Republican David Evans was fifth with 2,141 votes but Democrat Steve Morelli took the sixth spot.
The final spot on the council seems to be newcomer Eric Buhrendorf, who got two more votes than fellow Republican Charlie Paonessa. Fran Geschimsky was not far behind, as only 337 votes separated the top vote-getter, Salina with 2,347 votes, and Geschimsky with 2,013.
Mayor Salina said there were a number of factors that played against a big victory.
"I spoke to a bunch of people who told me they weren't going to bother voting because we would be fine," said Salina, going back for his fifth term on the Town council. "I tried to tell them this would be closer than they thought.
"Look, we are coming off a major natural disaster, there are no big issues right now, there was a very low turnout. All that favors the minority party. Apathy was a big part of the close margin.
"But a win's a win. We get to continue the work that we have started. There are a lot of projects that we started that we would like to see through to completion. We want to keep the momentum going. I'm happy the election is behind us. There is a lot of work to be done."
Bill Rasmussen, an Independent running on the Democratic ticket, was the second-leading vote-getter.
"I never really thought about how many votes I get, I just hope to get enough to be able to serve another term," Rasmussen said. "I enjoyed my first term and there are some things I would like to accomplish before I step away. For most of the issues I try to strip away the politics and make the right decision. The budget is an evolving process. We lost Bob Dacey, who was an integral part of that process, but most of the decisions we have to make just come down to common sense."
The lone Republican incumbent, Dave Evans, fared well and saw progress in the Republicans' attempt to unseat the Democrats.
"It was very close and I saw some real positive progress in the final numbers," said Evans. "We are getting there. We're getting out our message and people are responding to us. Our opponents talk about putting 'Berlin First' but we wish it just wasn't the numbers game and they really would put Berlin first."
Buhrendorf is a newcomer to the political game, and as he waited results of the close race, he seemed very cool.
"I think it's too close to call but I'll be honest my blood is pumping," he said with a smile. "We are all close, so Fran and Charlie would be great in that position, as well. They are committed to the community and the town is lucky to have them."
When asked if he was disappointed that the Republicans couldn't gain more than the two seats, Buhrendorf said, "The people have spoken. The system is working. People voted so how can you be disappointed with that?"
Republican Kari Drost and Democrat Mike Anderson won spots on the Board of Assessment Appeals.
Democrats Brad Parsons and Ryan Zelek and Republican Bob Peters earned spots on the Police Commission. Peters, a former mayor and police officer, in fact, had more votes than any candidate in any race.
Incumbent Irene Matulis and newcomer Tim Oakes won seats on the Board of Education automatically, as there were three openings.
BERLIN ELECTION RESULTS
Candidate Votes William Watson III (D) 2,179*
Rachel Rochette (D) 2,227*
Stephen Morrelli (D) 2,172*
Adam Salina (D) 2,347*
William Rasmussen Jr. (D) 2,259*
Eric Buhrendorf (R) 2,020*
Frances Geschimsky (R) 2,013
Charles Paonessa (R) 2,018
David Evans (R) 2,141*
BOARD OF ASSESSMENT APPEALS Candidate Votes Michael Anderson (D) 2,025*
Charles Frederick (D) 1,733
Karen Maier Drost (R) 2,124*
BOARD OF POLICE COMMISSIONERS Candidate Votes Bradford Parsons (D) 2,042*
Ryan Zelek (D) 2,041
Robert Peters (R) 2,375*
Richard Rampone (R) 2,018
BOARD OF EDUCATION Candidate Votes Irene Matulis 2,435*
Timothy Oakes 2,446*