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Republican Conroy doubts Thomson’s viability as a Norwalk mayoral candidate

Lisa Brinton Thomson. (File photo)

NORWALK, Conn. – Norwalk’s latest mayoral candidate, Lisa Brinton Thomson, shied away from mayoral talk in January, Norwalk Republican Town Committee Chairman Andy Conroy said Monday.

“The essence (of the conversation was)… ‘if you take that as your first step you are probably aiming a little too high for your intro to government.’ Now, she must have changed her mind,” Conroy said.

Thomson, who formed an exploratory committee in late June, is running for mayor, Special Assistant to the Deputy Secretary of State Tina Prakash said Wednesday, officially confirming a widely-held belief in political circles.

Conroy, who is also running for mayor, said he doesn’t think Thomson can win as an unaffiliated candidate.

“I think she could have made a strong (Republican) mayoral candidate,” Conroy said. “Not everybody agrees with me by the way, I am a little bit in the minority of this thinking. She could have pulled in kind of a sweeping group, that thinks along the lines of the unaffiliated group that she is with now, and picked up the Republican core at the same time. I think she would have a shot of winning, actually. She would have put enough groups together that a win was possible.”

Thomson might have a problem with name recognition as well; although she’s known as Lisa Thomson, it’s expected that she will be Lisa Brinton on the ballot.

Thomson said she’d address these questions Tuesday. In an email, she said:

“I will be happy to address all of your questions next week.  As I said, we are still in exploratory mode and sorting out a variety of issues before any public declaration is made.

“I continue to be focused on the issues that impact Norwalk residents … I am confident that Norwalkers will be focused on the these, and not concerned with whether my married or maiden name appears on the ballot.”

 

Conroy, Thomson and State Rep. Bruce Morris (D-140) are all challenging Mayor Harry Rilling’s bid for a third 2-year term.

Thomson’s committee, Lisa for Norwalk, obtained petitions from the Secretary of State to acquire signatures to make her a candidate, Town Clerk Rick McQuaid said Monday, explaining that Thomson would have to fill out the form to say what office she was running for but not explaining what office that might be.

Prakash in a Wednesday email, said, “Lisa Brinton has obtained petitions for the office of mayor under the name Lisa Brinton.  She has until 4 p.m. on August 9 to obtain 133 signatures.”

McQuaid will have to verify the signatures, he said.

Norwalk Democratic Registrar Stuart Wells said Thomson will be Lisa Brinton on the ballot because that’s the name she’s registered to vote under.

Asked if Thomson could change her legal name in time for the election, Wells, in an email, said:

“Interesting question.

“When a petitioning candidate takes out petition forms, his or her name is checked against the registry list by the Town Clerk. The candidate must use the name on the registry list to petition and she gets her name on the ballot from the name used on the petition. This makes good sense, because the name on the petition is the name that the voters who signed the petition thought they were picking.

“Consequently, since Lisa Brinton has already taken out petition forms, she is stuck with her current name. If she changed her name, she would most likely be required to petition again under the new name. She could still do this, I suppose, but I doubt that she would want to gather signatures all over again.

“This would seem to be the case even if she were changing to her current legal name, rather than to a new legal name. (Her current legal name might be ‘Thomson’ for all I know. We would be looking for advice from the Secretary of the State at that point.

“There are also interesting questions as to what, exactly, your legal name actually is. You can’t always get it on your driver’s license for a variety of strange reasons – For example, you can’t get an accented letter like é or ñ (as in José or Peña) on your driver’s license, and you can’t have a hyphenated first name, and the suffix, ‘III’ becomes ‘3rd,’ etc.”

 

Conroy said he talked to Thomson at the Jan. 27 Norwalk Mayor’s Ball, asking if she’d be the Republican mayoral candidate. He needed an answer quickly, he said, because the RTC bylaws state that a candidate has to have been Republican “for a certain length of time,” to be considered a “legitimate Republican” and Thomson would have to switch her party affiliation to Republican.

“She had to make up her mind and she more or less finally told me she couldn’t do it as member of the GOP,” Conroy said. “…I think somebody in her group convinced her that to run as a Republican is a death sentence.”

“She has never said to me, ‘I want to run for mayor.’ She only said. ‘I wonder if you guys would…’ That was it,” Conroy said, explaining that none of the party members who talk to Thomson thought she would become Republican.

“I hear lately that she puts it the other way around, that all of these Republicans were kind of blowing her off, didn’t really want to take her seriously,” Conroy said. “I don’t think so. That’s a nice try, but no, I don’t think so.”

Conroy said he saw Thomson two weeks ago, about the time she filed the papers for the exploratory committee.  She asked him if he thought the exploratory committee was a good idea, and he said it was smart.

“She ran a bunch of ideas by me but none of them really were definite,” Conroy said. “I keep hearing from people who are close to her that she decided to run for mayor but I didn’t hear that from her.”

“I think, knowing how that group operates that they will go out and recruit in the various neighborhoods and try to get Republican and Democrats to support her,” Conroy said. “That’s perfectly fine. People can support whoever they want to support. I don’t think she’ll win but I think she’ll get all the support she can muster.”

Running unaffiliated “kind of forecloses getting support from Republicans,” Conroy said.

“Now, she will get an occasional Republican to support her,” Conroy said. “I am not real sure what I am going to do with those Republicans but they are not going to be part of anything I do. They will think there is nothing wrong with it, I will say that there’s a lot wrong with it…. Everybody is free to do whatever they want, it’s just they can’t play both sides of the fence at the same time.”

(Lisa Thomson is a former Board member of Chapman Hyperlocal Media Inc., the non-profit parent company of NancyOnNorwalk.)

9 comments

Sad July 13, 2017 at 10:32 am

Of course the heads of both political parties think its a waste for Lisa to run.
She’ll be out there earning votes from individuals that are tired of the current political landscape.

That’s the issue in Norwalk… If you don’t affiliate with a party and “kiss the ring”, you’ll never have a chance at running for office.

Lisa is giving a third party a chance for the future in Norwalk.
Do I think she has a chance? No… Would I ask her to stop and drop out? Absolutely not!

I commend her for trying to do what is best for Norwalk by creating another path to elected office.

Most people in Norwalk know that Mayors don’t get voted in, they get voted out. With the popularity of Harry he is not getting voted out this election…especially by Andy Conroy.

..and on a side not Andy Conroy and the RTC in Norwalk are out of touch with reality.
Do they really think waiting to announce who their candidates are is a positive strategy?
The Democrats are already a month ahead of the game. They’ll be lucky if they get one seat on the BOE and maybe the re-election of a council member or two. If the last election cycle was any indication of the talent pool of candidates in the RTC then they might as well sit this one out.

Bill Nightingale, Jr July 13, 2017 at 10:57 am

sure way to end your political career just as it starts: serve on Norwalk Common Council

Debora Goldstein July 13, 2017 at 12:07 pm

On a related note, the Zoning Board of Appeals is holding the second half of the public hearing on Firetree’s application for a SPECIAL EXCEPTION for the prisoner halfway house proposed on Quintard Avenue.

Date: July 13, 2017
Time: 7:30 PM - 9:30 PM
Location: Common Council Chambers
Address: 125 East Avenue, Norwalk, CT 06851-5125
Contact: 203-854-7956

Agenda is available at http://www.norwalkct.org/Calendar.aspx?EID=9107&month=7&year=2017&day=13&calType=0

Come see your tax dollars at work protecting the citizens of Norwalk.

Donna July 13, 2017 at 1:39 pm

Thanks, @Debora, for providing the link to the meeting.

Come see your Federal tax dollars at work also. Repeated FOIA requests to the Bureau of Prisons going back months have yielded no fruit. The BOP is very protective of the RRC program, in spite of the Inspector General’s report questioning the value of the program at reducing recidivism.

Some information, like this specific contract with Firetree, LTD, is available online via govtribe.com. Other information is a little hard to come by. And none of the requests have been for confidential information. Many of us just want someone to pick up the phone.

If anyone is in the mood to emailthe Bureau’s RRC director, his name is Jon Gustin, and he can be emailed at [email protected]. He will kindly direct everyone to the FOIA request page. But if citizens copy [email protected], Jim Himes will also be copied on the glorious inefficiency and lack of transparency at the BOP.

The irony of taxpayers funding a program to house Federal offenders in residential neighborhoods is stunning. We are paying them to move in next door! And we are paying the BOP to ignore our requests for reasonable information.

However, I have faith in the ZBA to do right by the people of Norwalk.

Patrick Cooper July 13, 2017 at 2:16 pm

What’s SAD is the headline. NON – this should be about Lisa’s candidacy for Mayor – not what Andy Conroy thinks of it. Partisan politics is a pox on small communities like Norwalk – there’s no benefit. Think it helps? Defend our ECS formula with all our DEM connections. The silence is Duff’ening.

Why can’t we imagine a Norwalk leader beholden only to the residents – not one party, nor special interests. Staffing is based on competency – not loyalty. Decisions are made based on a visionary plan – not a platform. An example – our current BOE.

I’m delighted Lisa is running. She can help change the tone and tenor of this campaigns discourse to issues that truly matter to ALL Norwalk – and it will be worth watching to see who will engage her on the issues.

MarjorieM July 14, 2017 at 10:43 am

She has no experience in politics, just like Trump. Get your feet wet before jumping into something for which you are not qualified. We all see what the narcissist Trump has done to our country without the prerequisite knowledge of the activities of those who have power. We don’t need this to repeat itself on the local level. It takes arrogance to think you can start at the top.

anna russo July 14, 2017 at 1:06 pm

I’m encouraged by her desire to run. Conroy is the one who is acting pompous and arrogant. Never underestimate the public who have had it with what seems to be more “back room old school boy” behavior at the cost of us taxpayers.

Conroy is Rilling only Republican and that folks, is horrible for Norwalk.

Patrick Cooper July 14, 2017 at 6:06 pm

@MarjorieM – now that’s just a bridge too far. Seriously – you compare Lisa Brinton Thompson to Donald Trump? Laugh out loud ridiculous. Silly.

Let’s call a spade a spade – you are casually demeaning her competencies because she spearheaded the “Red Apples” – a group dedicated to reforming Norwalk’s education system for the betterment of the students. Your every comment on this site related to virtually any reform or improvement to the schools has been hugely critical.

Let’s also look behind your point: political experience. I’ve been reading about Lisa’s participation and advocacy for years now – with hands on experience on multiple issues that affect a wide swath of Norwalk citizens, including parents and property owners. Further – her mission appears to me to be exactly the opposite of what you espouse: that reducing or limiting the amount of “politics” involved in how this city operates would be to the benefit of ALL taxpaying Norwalk residents.

Norwalk, we need a new path, and we need a huge, deep, extended breath of common-sense. How refreshing would it be to have a non-partisan Mayor? I’ll tell you what would happen – the nonsense would dissipate, and decisions would be based on what is best for Norwalk.

MarjorieM July 15, 2017 at 11:37 pm

Patrick Cooper, I see Lisa’s cheerleaders are here. My point is, one doesn’t start at the top. In my opinion, serving as an advocate or a member of a group is very different from being the elected official who runs the city. Let her work her way up if she wants to change Norwalk.

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NancyOnNorwwalk.com was conceived as the place to go for Norwalk residents to get the real, unvarnished story about what is going on in and around their city. NancyOnNorwalk does not intend to be a print newspaper online; rather, it exists to pull the curtain back and shine a spotlight on how Norwalk is run and what is happening regarding issues that have an impact on taxpayers’ pocketbooks and safety. As an independent site, NancyOnNorwalk’s first and only allegiance is to the reader.

About Nancy

Nancy came to Norwalk in September 2010 and, after reporting on Norwalk for two years for another company, resigned to begin Nancy On Norwalk so she engage in journalism the way it was meant to be done. She is married to career journalist Mark Chapman, has a son, Eric (the artist and web designer who built this website), and two cats – a middle-aged lady and a young hottie who are learning how to peacefully co-exist.