Independent Barry Cohen concedes in-person to Democrat Dorinda Borer, the next Mayor of West Haven, at the Democrats' election party in West Haven's Democratic town committee headquarters on Nov. 7, 2023. Kay Perkins / Connecticut Public

Democrat Dorinda Borer will be the next mayor of West Haven following a shakeup in city leadership in the wake of a COVID-19 relief fund scandal.

“There was a lot of hope and a lot of energy in the air when I was standing at the polls. I think we’re all just excited to put this last chapter behind us,” she said.

Borer defeated Republican nominee and relative outsider Barry Cohen, who conceded the race Tuesday night.

In September, Cohen defeated the party-endorsed candidate by leaning into his outsider status, refusing to seek the party’s endorsement and instead appealing to independent voters.

“I still believe that this is a referendum on change. And the change that West Haven has decided is not my change, it’s Dorinda’s change. Which I hope will be our change, and West Haven’s change.”

The move put him in stark contrast to Borer, who represents West Haven in the State House of Representatives and was married to a former mayor of the city.

Tuesday’s vote means the top seat in the city remains in the hands of the Democrats. Nine out of 10 city council seats went to the Democrats, as well.

The mayoral seat was vacated by Democrat Nancy Rossi, who is leaving office after a scandal in which a city official was convicted for stealing tens of thousands of dollars in pandemic relief funds. Borer said addressing the city’s finances is her priority.

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“Number one is we have to rebuild trust,” Borer said. “We have to make sure our residents know that their taxpayer dollars are safeguarded.”

 Connecticut Public’s Patrick Skahill contributed to this report.

This story was first published by Connecticut Public on Nov. 7, 2023.