Mayor Fred B. Allyn Jr. had said throughout his tumultuous first term that he would step down when the residents of Ledyard asked him to.
On Tuesday, the residents spoke.
The result was a surprisingly easy victory for Republican-endorsed candidate John Rodolico, who surpassed Allyn by more than a 3-1 margin. Rodolico received 1,726 votes to Allyn's 530 votes.
Finishing second in the four-man race, with 960 votes, was was Democrat Tony Saccone, the Gales Ferry fire chief and relative newcomer to town politics. Petitioning candidate Robert Lawrence received 56 votes.
Although Rodolico said he was expecting a closer race, there were indications of a wide victory margin.
Voters exiting the polls Tuesday mentioned good schools and lower taxes as their primary concerns. But even more spoke of the well-publicized rift between Mayor Allyn, a Republican, and members of the Town Council, a relationship that has been characterized as "dysfunctional."
Allyn's decision in March to seek a second term stunned members of the Republican Town Committee, which snubbed the incumbent by overwhelmingly endorsingly Rodolico. Allyn responded by collecting signatures and running as a petitioning candidate.
The campaign was the model of civility, as all four candidates chose to take the high road.
Rodolico, however, referred throughout the race to three abiding principles -- efficiency, professionalism and openness -- and repeated a call for improved communication between all branches of town government.
The message was not lost on voters, who had been made painfully aware of communication issues between the council and Mayor Allyn.
When the polls closed, after the final totals were announced at Ledyard Center School, Allyn walked out of the school gymnasium without comment.
Saccone, who said he knocked on 1,500 doors during the campaign, made a strong showing in his first run for local office. He said afterward it was a great experience.
"I had a lot of great support from the townspeople. I think the numbers show that. And I think the numbers also show that there is a base in town that wanted a change, and was looking for someone who is not a politician, but with leadership experience and fiscal responsibility, and values of what our town is about."
Rodolico, who will be sworn in early in December, said he would begin his term by reviewing staffing needs and holding discussions with the new town council. Short-term goals include preparation of the 2012 town budget, which he called his number one priority.
"I'm very pleased with the decision the voters made," Rodolico said. "I think it was a response to the very clear message that we brought, and it's what the taxpayers were looking for, what they've been asking for."
Known as a tireless campaigner, the mayor-elect said he went out to the people. "I went out to more than 1,000 homes, and I got a very good reception there, and again today just standing outside the polls."
Town Councilor Linda Davis, herself a winner on Tuesday, managed Rodolico's campaign. She said there was strong support during door-to-door campaigning, and also more than 125 requests for Rodolico lawn signs, another indication that her candidate was headed for an easy victory, she said.
"No one I spoke to would have predicted this outcome," said fellow Town Councilor Bill Saums, another winner Tuesday. "But as you look back at it, it's very easy to see why it happened and how it happened."
Dist. 1 votes
Dist. 2 votes
Fred B. Allyn Jr.