Deputy Police Chief Patrick McMahon narrowly lost his bid Tuesday to become the city’s top cop when voters rejected a referendum question to make him the city’s police chief.
But McMahon today said he is buoyed by the referendum results because the question was defeated by merely 57 votes, a clear indication, McMahon said, that many residents here support him.
He said he believes his demotion and forced administrative leave helped cement Republican Mayor Sebastian Giuliano’s defeat at the polls Tuesday. Giuliano demoted McMahon and put him on paid leave several weeks ago after allegations surfaced that the veteran officer was seen drinking alcohol in a local restaurant while carrying his gun and badge.
“Mayor Giuliano made a political move and I think he made a mistake. He’s out of work now and I’ll hopefully be back at work soon. I’m looking forward to getting back to work and working with Dan Drew’s transition team.”
McMahon, who was the city’s acting police chief, was demoted to deputy chief by Giuliano after the allegations surfaced. He has also been on paid administrative leave while the city conducts an investigation.
McMahon said he hopes the newly elected Democratic administrative will wrap up that investigation soon so he can get back to work. He said he believes the ballot question to make him the city’s police chief, which was defeated on a vote of 3,486 to 3,429, would have passed had Giuliano not demoted him because of “unsubstantiated allegations.”
“I think the unfortunate 11th-hour smear campaign from the mayor’s office was responsible. I think he made the wrong decision to demote me without any hearing or without any cause. I think it speaks volumes about him.
“If I was resoundingly defeated I think that would have sent a clear message, but I wasn’t.”
The two other referendum questions on Tuesday’s ballot were handily approved by voters.
One of those authorizes the city to spend $13 million to join the Mattabassett sewer district in Cromwell. Under that plan, the city’s aging sewer plant on the Connecticut River would be shut down and that waterfront property could be redeveloped.
That question was approved on a vote of 4,831 to 2,111.
Before the plan can move forward, however, the Mattabassett’s board of directors must approve the deal to let Middletown join the district. So far, the board has been reluctant to take that vote. The other question authorizes the city to spend $14.17 million on numerous road repaving and improvement projects around town.
All of the money would be borrowed and paid back over several years. The bonding referendum question was approved by voters on a vote of 5,503 to 1,655.