Republican Mayor Andy Skibitsky easily won re-election Tuesday evening, outdistancing Democratic challenger Bill Brennan by just under 2,800 votes.
Unofficial returns compiled by the Town Clerk's office show Skibitsky polling 6,714 votes to Brennan's 3,927 votes. Skibitsky swept the town's four wards and won all but one election district in town. Brennan pulled off a victory in the third district of the Third Ward with a vote of 164 to 143.
Skibitsky was joined in victory by three of his running mates for the Town Council. In the First Ward, Sam Della Fera defeated Democrat Janice Siegel 1,605 to 1,146 for the seat of retiring Republican Councilman Sal Caruana. In the Second Ward, Councilwoman Vicki Kimmins was unopposed for re-election. In the Fourth Ward, Republican Keith Loughlin unseated Democratic incumbent Tom Bigosinski by a vote of 1,412 to 1,270. The race between Loughlin and Bigosinski was considered the most competitive in town.
The sole Democratic victor of the night was Third Ward Councilman Dave Haas who captured his second full term on the Council with a victory over Republican Tom Delaney. Haas polled 1,357 votes to 1.088 for Delaney. With Bigosinski's defeat, Haas will be the only Democrat on the Council starting in January.
Republican celebrated Skibitsky's election to a second full term with a lively party at Echo Lake Country Club. Republicans had started the night gathered around a large screen watching the returns trickle in from around town. The early returns caused celebration, showing a victory in the works for Skibitsky.
"I think it is very gratifying that the residents recognized our accomplishments over the past four years," Skibitsky said in an interview Tuesday night.
Skibitsky views the landslide victory as based on his record over the last four years. He cited his communications skills with the town and what he views is the non-partisan way he has run the town.
"It is very encouraging and I look forward to serving for another four years," Skibitsky said of the mandate he received from the electorate.
During his speech to the packed room at the country club, Skibitsky thanked his family and campaign team and touched on some of his accomplishments. He also singled out Delaney for his work during the campaign.
Looking forward to the coming weeks, Skibitsky said in an interview that he will be focusing on appointments to various town boards and commissions, along with appointments to seats on Council committees. With two Council members leaving at the end of the year, including opening up the finance committee chairmanship, a reshuffle of committee positions appears likely.
"It is very important to put the right people in the right places," he said.
During his concession speech at a party in a private residence on Kimball Avenue, Brennan congratulated Skibitsky on his victory and said he views the election as a victory for the Democrats.
"I really, really feel we won this campaign," Brennan said, noting that he does not believe Skibitsky and the GOP received a mandate.
Reiterating themes from his campaign, Brennan said it is tough to run as a Democrat in a Republican town and noted that it was tough to run against a popular mayor. Only one Democrat, Tom Jardim in 1996 and 1998, has won the mayor's office in the last century. When Jardim ran against Skibitsky in 2005, after a five year absence, he lost to the Republican.
In his speech to supporters, Brennan said he and his running mates would be bucking tradition and would be traveling over to the country club to personally congratulate Skibitsky on his victory. He said he wanted to do it to show how he was trying to be a gentleman in the campaign. Brennan and his team spent a short time at the GOP headquarters before returning to their election night party.
In an interview with Westfield Patch, Brennan said he has no regrets in how he ran his campaign. Brennan was known for running one of the more aggressive campaigns in town history, frequently questioning Skibitsky from the podium during Town Council meetings and calling on the mayor to debate multiple times. Brennan said he believes the lack of debates—there was one debate two weeks before the vote—hurt his overall campaign by not allowing him to communicate directly with the mayor.
"He ran a stealth campaign and that worked out very well for him," Brennan said.
Brennan also noted that he sees the two election night parties as an example of the differences between both parties in town. He stressed his party was at a private residence while the GOP went to a country club. The Republicans have previously explained the location was based on being in the same place as the Republican state legislators' election night headquarters. He also stressed that he did not consider that he lost the election.
"I don't consider myself a loser," he said. "You're only a loser if you don't attain the goals you had at the beginning of the campaign."
Skibitsky said that he recognizes that Brennan ran an aggressive campaign, but in the end does not believe that was what the town was looking for in a mayor. Skibitsky's campaign was more low key, including more door-to-door campaigning and centering on performing official duties. Skibitsky rarely directly engaged his opponent.
In the end he believes the voters re-elected him because of his work and what he says is his attention to his offical duties.
"I think the residents recognize in the last four years I have acted in a non-partisan fashion," he said. "Westfield voters are very astute and they saw what we've accomplished."