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Despite efforts, Sanders defeated
Brittany Sanders, a Quinnipiac University junior and Republican candidate for the Hamden 1st District Council seat, lost to Democrat incumbent Matt Fitch in the town election Nov. 8. The vote was 832 to 351 in favor of Fitch.
After a three month campaign that culminated in her greeting voters from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Nov. 8 at the Miller Memorial Central Library, Sanders had no regrets about the way she campaigned.
“I thought I did everything I could,” Sanders, a 20-year-old Mountainside, N.J., native said.
The Hamden Town Republicans Committee nominated Sanders on July 25. She was endorsed by both the QU Democrats club and the QU Republicans club, of which she is vice president. She organized a campaign team of 35 Quinnipiac students and 10 Hamden Town Republicans members, who registered about 800 Quinnipiac students for the election and publicized her candidacy by wearing T-shirts, distributing pens and posting fliers.
Another 1,500 Quinnipiac students were eligible to vote in the election, after having been registered two years ago during the campaign of then-Quinnipiac junior Michael Germano, who ran for the 1st District Council seat in 2003.
On Nov. 8, campaign team members held signs outside the cafeteria and student center encouraging students to vote. Other campaign team members and Sanders’ parents greeted voters with Sanders in the parking lot of the Miller Memorial Central Library, the voter precinct for the 1st District Council.
Sanders described her campaign team’s efforts as invaluable.
“They are the most important part of the campaign. They’ve registered people to vote, hung posters, stuffed mailboxes. Their help is irreplaceable,” Sanders said.
Sanders’ platform focused largely on her desire to be a mediator between Hamden residents and Quinnipiac University students. The two parties’ relations toward each other have become increasingly strained in recent years; residents have often complained that off-campus students are inconsiderate to the larger community.
“I think that it is very important that we get a person on the council who can really bridge the gap between Hamden and Quinnipiac. And I think that students are really realizing how important that really is, especially after the party situation,” Sanders said.
She was referring to an off-campus drinking party hosted by Quinnipiac students on Oct. 28, at which 19 Quinnipiac students were arrested on charges ranging from underage drinking to resisting arrest. The university expelled eight of the students and suspended eight others.
This incident may have cost Sanders votes merely because it reflected poorly on the entire university, said campaign manager and Quinnipiac junior Michael Vitali. An untold number of Hamden residents who had initially considered voting for Sanders likely changed their minds just because of the fallout from the incident, he said.
“With all the recent negative press about Quinnipiac, I think Hamden residents were unlikely to vote for Brittany just because she is from Quinnipiac,” Vitali, a political science major from Wallingford, said.
Leif Parsell, chair of the QU Republicans club and a member of Sanders’ campaign team, attributed Sanders’ loss to the vast majority of the 2,300 Quinnipiac students who, though registered to vote, failed to do so.
“Quinnipiac students had a great opportunity to make a change in the town for the better. But they didn’t do it. Seniors had better like living off campus because they’re not going to have any choice,” Parsell said.
“We all worked very hard,” Parsell said. “We put in a lot of effort. We did everything we could have done.”
Sanders said she will most likely run for public office again, though she has no specific plans as of yet.
Bill Sanders is proud of the way his daughter conducted her campaign.
“I think she’s run a masterful campaign. She’s addressed the issues in a very, very cogent manner,” Bill Sanders said.
Likewise, Merrill Sanders considers her daughter’s campaign successful.
“She’s already won, just getting all these people registered to vote,” Merrill Sanders said. “I applaud her.”