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Melendez, Yerinides, triumph in Norwalk primary

Tasheedah Roberts, left, and Chris Yerinides wait for voters Tuesday afternoon at St. Mary’s Church.

Updated, 4:46 a.m., expanded story.

The election is Nov. 7.

NORWALK, Conn. — Tuesday’s District A primary has resulted in no change to the Democratic slate for Common Council in district.

Incumbent Council member Eloisa Melendez and Chris Yerinides have triumphed, defeating challenger Kadeem Roberts.

There were 314 ballots case in the primary, which cost about $14,000, according to Democratic Registrar Stuart Wells. The count was:

  • Melendez 197
  • Yerinides 174
  • Roberts 158

Turnout was on the candidate’s minds.

Yerinides and Tasheedah Roberts, the challenger’s older sister, were at the St. Mary’s Church poll at about 3:30 p.m.

At that point, 35 people had voted at the church, the moderator said.

“It’s about what I expected for a primary,” Yerinides said. “I mean, I would want as many people here as possible because I think that’s how we would end up with the strongest candidate, but I feel good based on the people that have come here today. Everybody seems to pretty educated.”

“I think it’s too early, because I think more people are going to come out and vote. We are just hopeful for good results. I mean, either way, all the candidates were great,” Roberts said.

Later, at about 8:20 p.m., Melendez received the voting tally via text as she sat in the Council chambers focused on a school bus contract during the Council meeting.

During a recess, she said, “We are proud of the work we have done, honestly we knocked on so many doors. Turnout could have been better but we are thankful for those who came out and proud f our work. Now on to November.”

Yerinides and Melendez face Republican challengers Ellen Wink, former City Clerk, and Frederick Fusci, as well as incumbent Democrat Steve Serasis, on the ballot as a petitioning candidate.

Yerinides and Melendez were endorsed by the Democratic Town Committee; Roberts forced a primary by obtaining signatures on petitions.

There may be a recount.

“A recount is automatic (unless Roberts decides to concede), because Roberts is 16 votes behind Yerinides, i.e. less than 20 votes,” Wells said.

Roberts did not respond to an email.

A recount would cost about $1,000, Wells said in an email, explaining his $14,000 estimate:

Poll workers                       $6,000

Police                                    $2,000

Moving Equipment         $2,000

Ballots   & IVS                     $1,500

Rental of St. Mary            $   800

Likely Recount                   $1,000

Misc.                                     $   700

Total, Approx                 $14,000

 

“Probably $15,000 really, because there is always something I forget, and Police cost depend on the rank and payrate of the officers who get the assignment. It would be less in other districts, but District A has four polling places,” Wells said.

Yerinides and Melendez will also be on the ballot as Working Families Party candidates.

Carlos Moreno, Interim State Director of Connecticut Working Families Party, had this to say in an email:

 

“The Working Families Party congratulates Eloisa Melendez and Chris Yerinides on an impressive victory in a hard fought race to the finish in Norwalk’s Common Council District A Democratic primary.
“Norwalk is an important and growing part of Connecticut’s vitality and growth as a state. That importance is a testament to the city’s groundbreaking living wage ordinance and to community leaders and advocates like Eloisa and Chris who fight for smart, pro-worker policies that invest in the city’s future.
“Eloisa and Chris have the right vision for the city. Norwalk’s working families deserve well-funded public schools, meaningful infrastructure investment, living wages, and good union jobs. They need candidates who will resist privatization schemes and advocate for an economy that works for everyone. Eloisa and Chris will do exactly that.”

Original story:

NORWALK, Conn. — Tuesday’s District A primary has resulted in no change to the Democratic slate for Common Council in district.

Incumbent Council member Eloisa Melendez and Chris Yerinides have triumphed, defeating challenger Kadeem Roberts.

There were 314 ballots case in the primary, which cost about $14,000, according to Democratic Registrar Stuart Wells. The count was:

  • Melendez 197
  • Yerinides 174
  • Roberts 158

 

There may be a recount.

“A recount is automatic (unless Roberts decides to concede), because Roberts is 16 votes behind Yerinides, i.e. less than 20 votes,” Wells said.

Yerinides and Melendez were endorsed by the Democratic Town Committee.

Roberts did not immediately respond to an email.

 

This story will be updated.

 

 

13 comments

Patrick Cooper September 13, 2017 at 12:03 pm

Primary turnout is always a crap-shoot, I guess. But there is no guessing here, District A apparently doesn’t care who represents them. What is the registered voter turnout percent here, NoN?

If I’m not mistaken – isn’t this the Norwalk district where daily there are discussions about: 1) The Wall Street Train Station 2) Waypoint (I need another 200 apartments to buy my 4th home in Palm Beach), 3) Mott St. Library parking (Milligan’s Island), 4) is POKO still sitting there, 5) Duleep building (on its 7th year with a “going out of business” sign), 6) DiScalla $1.00 parking lot purchase shenanigans. That’s the short list.

The good news? If they can count 1 ballot every 2 seconds, they can do the recount in under 15 minutes. Yes, our town paid just over $44 a vote for this process – hope the $700 miscellaneous was scotch for the volunteers.

But is this a harbinger of a larger political story? Maybe Macho Camacho should worry about his democratic voters, because for this event they completely tuned out and turned off. Now add to this – councilwoman Bowman is all but threatening to join and support the Dis-B-Dems threat to payback Harry for his pay-for-play in South Norwalk. Then you have “Fix-it-First” super-sly Ely man Morris siphoning off the Penn-Williams block of “real-democrat” votes. Who knows, maybe the democratic party will continue to implode care of the ass-backward twins Harry/ Duff, and Lisa & Andy will fight it out for the big chair in city hall. Let’s see when the DTC starts the money train towards “get-out-the-vote”.

Debora Goldstein September 13, 2017 at 3:06 pm

District A has about 6,570 registered voters, and of those, approximately 2,740 are Ds (the only ones allowed to vote in a D primary). That puts it at about 11.5% turnout for a primary where a little over 30% turnout for a general. Stuart can correct me if I’m wrong, but this seems to be a pretty normal turnout.

One more reason the ill-advised charter revision proposals last year should have been voted down. The off year elections every two years would have depressed turnout, potentially to these levels. We should do everything we can to encourage MORE turnout, not less.

Debora Goldstein September 13, 2017 at 4:13 pm

Donna,

Love that question…

Of the approx 55,000 registered voters in the city, somewhere between 30 and 35% turnout to vote in a muni year–a little higher in Presidential years.

The LWV holds voter registration drives every year, which helps engage new voters to the process…but that doesn’t necessarily help move the 65%-70% who don’t make it to the polls each November.

Both parties conduct get out the vote activities each fall. If you want to, you can get involved with one of the parties.

If that is not to your taste, you can do what you’ve been doing…communicating at the grass roots level when neighborhoods are working on an issue…raising awareness through the press and connecting the dots between decisions and elections.

I would also consider advocating that the City allocate more money to the offices that are responsible for the conduct of our elections…so that they can do more outreach around the elections to reach voters. In NYC, they used to mail (yes, I know that’s a dirty word in this City Hall because mail costs so much) a voter guide to every household in the city, with information on each candidate and each referendum question.

Lastly, if you know that someone has issues that prevent them from voting, you can volunteer to help…drive someone who doesn’t have a car, offer to watch the kids for 30 minutes so they can go to the polls,etc.

Patrick Cooper September 13, 2017 at 4:44 pm

@ Debora Goldstein – according to the “Hour”, they noted that the 314 votes represented 7.8% turnout – as they say there are 4,040 registered democrats (apparently from the register of voters). Ample places to cast votes too – polls were open at Tracey, St. Mary’s, Kendall and Nathan Hale School — from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. That said – I saw a facebook post that came from a registered democrat (presumably D-A) that noted zero communication from the towns party apparatus. Must be saving every dime for the big seat.

Everyone should support increasing voter participation. I imagine given how everyone get’s their daily news, social media is best way to reach the largest audience.

Debora Goldstein September 13, 2017 at 6:23 pm

My file is from the registrar and its fairly current. I must have messed up the formula and picked up only a1 or a2.

thanks for the catch

Donna Smirniotopoulos September 13, 2017 at 9:24 pm

@Debora, great information and great ideas for helping to increase voter registration and get out the vote. Based on the number ballots cast and the expenses noted above, each vote yesterday cost the City $26.50. One would hope that better voter turnout would make each vote a little less expensive.

I’m a big fan of pre-election voter guides. These mailings are costly. But they can improve turnout–unless the City doesn’t want a good turnout.

N.B. Last fall I went to the registrar of voters in search of a paper copy of the Charter Revision ballot initiatives. They didn’t have anything printed that I could take home with me. Had it not been for a vocal group of community activists, most voters wouldn’t have known what they were being asked to vote on. Almost makes you wonder if there are some at City Hall who prefer an ignorant electorate to a well-informed one.

Debora Goldstein September 14, 2017 at 10:24 am

Donna,

Yes, those activists helped (full disclosure–I was one of them). The City had a statutory obligation to post explanatory language.

To be fair, there was some confusion around a general referendum question and ones related to charter revision. It’s been years since we had a charter question in Norwalk.

All the more reason to support a candidate that believes in REAL charter revision. Also to advocate for more and better resources for our Town Clerk and Registrars.

If voter turnout is a high priority for the community, outcome based budgeting and planning would help us prioritize it properly and execute effectively.

It’s time we professionalize the management of our resources for best outcomes and to get the most bang for very limited bucks.

Pamela Parkington September 14, 2017 at 1:11 pm

@Patrick Cooper-Was that Facebook post you saw regarding a registered Dem receiving zero communication from the DTC from the comment section in The Hour? Because that particular person lives in my district, District C. Therefore they would not have had a knock on the door, a phone call or a flyer left in their mailbox by all three of the candidates.

Unfortunately many registered voters in Norwalk have no clue what a ‘District’ is, let alone which one they live or vote in.

And yes, it has been the failure of BOTH PARTIES for not educating the public on the inner workings of our towns political system(s). And no, it is not the fault whoever happens to be in City Hall right now.

A lot of the blame should go to the citizens of this City, (and Nationally), for abdicated their civic duty. For not voting, for not wanting to know how it all works. Because in this day and age, all the information is out there….and there are people in both parties willing to break everything down into layman’s terms for them.

Patrick Cooper September 14, 2017 at 3:37 pm

@Pamela Parkington – since you asked I’ll answer. Could be the Hour – it’s why I said presumably – because I thought the same thing – is it possible they think it was a town wide primary? It was not.

As for District A – seriously, a turnout of under 10% is pathetic. I whole heartedly support your libertarian slant of personal accountability – and I agree that it is and should be the responsibility of every citizen of voting age to get informed. If you don’t vote your ignoring and possibly undermining the entire point of democracy.

As for both parties – agreed to a certain level. As for “breaking it down into layman’s terms”, let’s not dumb it down too much – and trust little and verify everything. I don’t profess any insight into the local machines, but nationally it has been the GOP’s strategy to suppress voting and gerrymander their way to victory. But both parties are paid for by corporations and special interests (unions, etc.). There is a different cartel from the Military Industrial Complex that makes big dough on increased partisanship – including the media. Now that corporatist Gorsuch is on the bench – overturning Citizens United just became a 25 year problem.

Bottom line – I will support any and every effort regardless of origin and thesis to increase voter knowledge, and participation, in our elections – local and national. Hopefully the candidates, the media (NoN, Hour, Patch, TV, print whatever…) and the active tax payers of this town continue to emphasize “get out the vote”.

Donna Smirniotopoulos September 14, 2017 at 5:12 pm

@Pamela Parkington, I agree that citizens should advocate for themselves. But I also agree with Debora that the City does not appear to have made voter education a priority. The office of the registrar of voters is underfunded. The OMB creates the budget. The finance director is solely appointed by the mayor. So it IS the fault of whoever is at city hall right now. If the mayor wants voter outreach, he should ask the finance director to build this funding into the budget. I have met many Norwalk citizens who are hard working people who need the encouragement of a city wide mailer to help them through the election process. We are talking about a $40,000 mailing. Compare that to other spending–like 460,000 on an option to buy Milligan’s lot. Or two million to settle the al mandalay suit. Norwalk has spent more money on dumber things that voter education.

Donna Smirniotopoulos September 17, 2017 at 2:06 pm

Norwalk does not fund pre-election voter education pamphlets. Election information is posted online. The problem with this approach is the poor in Norwalk are the least likely to have internet access. And people who are too disaffected to get out and vote are unlikely to be proactive enough to look explore the City’s web site hunting for more information on the candidates. I received a flu shot postcard from the Norwalk Health Department. If Norwalk can afford those mailings, they can probably find the money to fund election mailings.

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