Updated 9:40 p.m.: Anderson will not primary.
NORWALK, Conn. – Ballots trickled in across Norwalk Thursday as Democrats voted for 2018-20 Democratic Town Committee candidates.
The 55 winners of Thursday’s caucus do not include State Rep. Bruce Morris (D-140) and Board of Education member Erik Anderson but do include former DTC Chairman Marc Bradley and Kadeem Roberts, who forced a primary in District A this summer in an unsuccessful bid for Common Council.
The town committee selects candidates for elections and steers a course for the party. Norwalk Democrats increased the size of the Democratic Town Committee three years ago, from 35 to 55 members. Thursday’s results can be challenged via primaries.
Only Districts B and D were contested in Thursday’s caucus; although District E had 14 candidates listed, it worked out its slate and adjourned early – according to two men who searched City Hall at about 8:30 p.m., looking for the caucus.
The pair had come to vote and give two young girls a lesson in civics, Ed Hynes said.
“We are here because we wanted to participate and we are trying to give these two young ladies a good lesson,” he said, good naturedly going home without casting a ballot.
District E co-chairwoman Nora King in a late night email confirmed that District E worked it out without a vote. Bradley, who was DTC chairman from 2010 to 2012 and then moved to London, “is back in town and bought a house in Rowayton,” King wrote. “We are excited he is back in town and getting engaged.”
In District B, 13 candidates vied for 11 seats. Some sat through the caucus, chatting amiably as the occasional voter came in.
Two years ago, Common Council members Faye Bowman and Travis Simms stepped back to allow other people to join the DTC. This time, they were on the ballot.
“We just have some important issues to handle on the Democratic Town Committee and within the Democratic Party,” Bowman said. “We will be selecting delegates or recommend somebody to run for governor so we have a lot of important issues that we need to tackle. We need more diversity in the Democratic Party so for those reasons I decided this year to actually run.”
“I think we are at a pivotal point for South Norwalk and that’s why I wanted to get back on,” Simms said. “I think South Norwalk needs strong leadership on the DTC and make sure that we go and we advocate to the city as a whole, on the DTC level, to make sure that South Norwalk is not forgotten, South Norwalk is getting what it needs. … We’ve got a lot of folks here who are in dire need of many things and who best to be up here and talk about and been living here, representing the district for almost a decade or more.”
Morris challenged incumbent Democratic Mayor Harry Rilling in the fall election, initially saying he would force a primary but getting on the November ballot as a petitioning candidate. He came in fourth in the four-way contest.
Being on the DTC, he would have more influence than he did for the past two years, Morris said Thursday. He’s also have influence in selecting leadership and forming inclusive policies, he said.
“I would have a real opportunity to speak next time, as I was not given that, in any of the meetings,” Morris said. “…It’s a brand-new year, we need to see what the future looks like but I want to be there to help shape that future. At this stage I am weighing all my future options and it would be more advantageous for me to be a member of the DTC in order to see effective changes that I am looking forward to.”
Morris fell short in his attempt to rejoin the DTC, garnering 17 votes. Five District B candidates received 29 votes, the highest total; Anderson, who was not present as the caucus continued, received 11.
Anderson said in a Friday email that he would not force a primary. Morris did not reply to a Thursday evening email.
Martha Wooten-Dumas was one of the top vote-getters, with 29 votes.
“I only see trouble,” she said, about an hour before the votes were counted. “I don’t think anybody is going to sit down anymore and it’s more or less about everybody realy trying to understand and communicate about what happens down in South Norwalk because it seems like every district gets what they want and yet South Norwalk is compiled with, still, contractor yards that some of them don’t even have permits.”
South Norwalk needs a community center “because you’re looking at another generation of young drug dealers… it’s all because there’s nothing to do,” she said.
When Water Street flooded the energy assistance program had to leave and now people have to go to Bridgeport to get help, she said.
“They say jobs are coming back. Where the heck are the jobs? People aren’t working so they don’t have the bus fare to go to Bridgeport to do their energy,” she said.
“It’s going to be a fight,” she said, vowing not to give up. “…I don’t want to sound like Mr. Mosby or anything but it’s time for people to start filing lawsuits.”
In District D, caucus chairwoman Kay Anderson had national politics on her mind.
Asked why the district had 15 people competing for 11 seats, she said, “District D has active people in it who enjoyed the last campaign. A lot of people are really, really concerned about Trump, and that has created an activism here that we haven’t seen in a while.”
Everyone is concerned about President Donald Trump, she said.
“There are folks like me who recently retired and thought, ‘Now I can relax, I can pull back.’ Trump happens and you realize you can’t,” she said. “For younger people, it really spurred them, in a wonderful way I think, to realize ‘We need to give back, we need to be involved in our community, not just take care of my job, my family and myself.’ It’s a horrible moment with Trump. There’s no question but I am really encouraged about people really thinking about community, not in a general way but as, ‘Something I can contribute to and I have a responsibility to contribute to.’ I think we see that. I don’t think we had a lot of people who voted but we had a number of people I don’t know, and I love that. And young people! So that’s good.”
Parthena “Penny” Page-Fort stayed for the entire caucus at the Senior Center, lingering past 9:30 p.m. to learn the results.
She fell short in her attempt to be a DTC member but said she’s stay involved because, “I am excited with what we have coming.”
Asked why she ran, she said, “I love this city and I want to improve it. I am a lifelong Democrat and with Trump being what he is, I wanted to get involved.”
Bill Pappa ran for Common Council and fell just 15 votes short of unseating Republican veteran Doug Hempstead in the Republican district.
“I love the support I had from the party,” Pappa said. “I thought there was a lot of opportunity to make the changes that I’d like to see and a lot of people would like to see by working through the party. I can enact the same kind of change that I’d love to see on the Council through the party.”
The endorsed candidates for the 2018-20 Democratic Town Committee:
- Nicol Ayers
- Andres J. Bermudez-Hallstrom
- Julie Corbett
- Dickson F. DeMarche
- David Heuvelman
- Laoise King
- Eloisa Melendez
- Elsa Peterson Obuchowski
- Kadeem Roberts
- Jeremy Rotner
- Darius Williams
- Ron Banks
- Phaedrel Bowman
- Ray Dunlap
- Daisy Franklin
- Manny Langella
- Mike Mushak
- Sonia Oliver
- Travis Simms
- Sharon Stewart
- Sandra Stokes
- Martha Wooten-Dumas
- David Brown
- Ed Holowinko
- John Kydes
- Linda Langston
- Lisa Nuzzo
- Pam Parkington
- Samuel Pride
- Beth Siegelbaum
- Stephanie Thomas
- Johnnie Mae Weldon
- Brenda Penn-Williams
- Kay Anderson
- Greg Burnett
- Robert Keyes
- Bruce Kimmel
- Pat Marshock
- Barbara Meyer-Mitchell
- William Pappa
- Warren Peña
- Marilyn Robinson
- Nick Sacchinelli
- Joe Tamburri
- Mike Barbis
- Marc Bradley
- Chris Dowling
- Tina Duryea
- Colin Hosten
- Nora King
- Ron Kowalski
- Esther Murillo
- Frank Nash
- Lucia Rilling
- Pat Tinto