MADISON — Democrat newcomer Peggy Lyons won the town’s top office in an upset victory over two-term incumbent Republican First Selectman Tom Banisch 3,209 to 2,936 Tuesday, according to unofficial results.
Supporters erupted when Democratic Town Committee Chairman Joan Walker announced Lyons’ win at the Democratic temporary headquarters at the Madison Country Club.
“It is a wonderful night, it’s a wonderful night,” Walker told the crowd.
Lyons got the news while at home. “It’s always tough with an incumbent,” she said. “We’re surprised and happy.”
“I think people just wanted to be heard more in the community and to see things moving forward in town,” said Lyons. “We’ve kind of been in a quagmire, a little bit of a gridlock, and I think now people want to see progress, some projects get finished and all the boards working together collaboratively.”
“I am humbled and grateful that voters of Madison have confidence in me and my team to move us forward,” she added.
“I felt very cautiously optimistic, but it’s always a surprise when you win against an incumbent who’s been in office in a town for a long time,” she said. “I feel like the community has spoken and I am grateful for their support.”
Fellow Democrat Selectman Al Goldberg, who won reelection, believes it was her inclusive message and her “vision and communication” that he saw while campaigning with her that won voters over: “She’s a natural born collaborator. Folks just flock to her.”
Meanwhile, it was somber mood as the results trickled in at the Banisch home where the Republicans were gathering for results. Juggling two cell phones, Banisch scrolled through results that showed that the numbers were not in his favor.
“It’s disappointing, very disappointing,” he said. “I’m stunned.”
When asked what he thought why his campaign seemed to miss the mark, he couldn’t come up with anything specific.
“I don’t think we could have done anything better, I don’t know,” he said. “I can’t believe this happened.”
What Banisch did say is that he has never been involved with a nastier campaign.
“I think it’s one of the nastier campaigns that’s ever been in Madison,” he said, referring to the Lyons campaign. “I’ve never seen the kind of vitriol in the paper and the nasty letters and the stuff on Facebook. It’s just so negative and mean-spirited.”
However, Lyons had an upbeat attitude about her campaign.
“I feel very good we ran a strong campaign with a positive message and I hope that the people of Madison choose to embrace it and we all work together,” she said early Election Day.
Lyons said she got a positive response from voters because they recognize that Madison has “some big issues facing us and a lot of the decisions have to get made and I think they want to see progress and so I think it’s been a couple of years now of frustration and so, now, people are saying we’ve got to start making decisions and move them forward.”
Other winners include:
Board of Selectmen
The winners are Republicans Erin Duques; Democrats Al Goldberg and Scott Murphy.
Board of Finance
The winners are Democrat John Picard, and Republicans Justin Murphy and Fillmore McPherson.
Board of Education - uncontested
The winners are Democrats Cathy Miller and Katie Stein and Republicans Galen P. Cawley Jr and Diane Infantine-Vyce.
Board of Assessment Appeals- uncontested
The winners are Democrat Melanie L. Clark and Republicans Richard Robinson and Lynne Hubbard.
Zoning Board of Appeals- uncontested
The winners for the Zoning Board of Appeals are Republicans William Piggott and Thomas Kelty and Democrat Ned Moore. There is also an alternate, Republican Dennis Crowe.
Susan Braden and Meghan Friedmann contributed to this story