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Upbeat Norwalk Republicans endorse new town committee members

Republican Town Committee Vice Chairman Victor Cavallo shows off District E’s list of endorsed new RTC members, Wednesday in the Norwalk Inn.

Updated, Jan. 15: Minor edit. Updated, 7 p.m.: More information. Correction, 12 p.m.: Theresa Quell.

NORWALK, Conn. – Norwalk Republicans worked to set a new course Wednesday as veteran Town Committee members welcomed newcomers in an upbeat caucus at the Norwalk Inn.
Newbies winning endorsements included Norwalk Police Detective Mark Suda, Josh Jewett and Marilyn Knox.

“Welcome to the Republican Party. It seems that everyone in this room will be elected on March 6th, and there will not be any primaries, unless I am not seeing the right things here,” Republican Town Committee Chairman Victor Cavallo said, after the endorsements were turned in.

Norwalk Republicans suffered a drubbing in November’s election, losing in all but one Common Council race, losing all the Board of Education races and seeing their mayoral candidate, Andy Conroy, come in third to incumbent Democratic Mayor Harry Rilling and the unaffiliated Lisa Brinton Thomson. Jewett and Suda were among those who ran for Common Council and lost.

District C Republicans discuss potential new Republican Town Committee members, Wednesday in the Norwalk Inn.

The caucus had a different feeling than in prior years, with each district gathered around a table to discuss who would be endorsed, with the conversation turning to local issues once a decision was made.

“Norwalk has become apartment city. That’s all we do, we build apartments,” Liz Lyons said, at the District C table.

While Lyons said renters do not pay property taxes, Michael O’Reilly said their landlords do.

“It’s not that much as opposed to real estate taxes,” Lyons said, noting that renters use city services such as the hospital and the schools.

Lyons called the District C slate wonderful, adding, “I think it’s great to bring in some new members that have interest and passion. I hope that the district is successful in recruiting some younger members… I would like to see them 30 and under.”

At an adjacent table, Patrick Cooper was introducing himself to District D, explaining why he had come out to his first RTC meeting.

“I am really personally concerned with what’s going on, locally, nationally, everywhere,” Cooper said. “And seeing as I am in this town, I figured you either do something about it and get involved or you get what you get. Given what has taken place over the past few years, I am nervous about my property, I am nervous about this town and neighbors, and I figure I would come out and learn a little bit and listen. Some may know me from my rather sharp elbows in social media posts. I’m not looking to make friends, I am looking to change things… I am honest, you ask me my opinion I’ll give it to you.”

He received applause.

“Pat and Joanne are good people, I would welcome them to this district,” Bryan Meek said.

Cooper wasn’t on the list of endorsed Town Committee members but that might change, District C Chairman John Romano said.

“This is not a solid district list until March 6,” Romano said. “We have the opportunity and ability to substitute… If he has the desire to he would certainly be welcome.”

“You don’t just show up and say I belong to the committee. I wanted to see what was going on,” Cooper said, explaining that he’s willing, “if somebody wants to nominate me or somebody believes that my participation in a certain place will be a contributing factor towards victory, because that’s all I am interested in. Winners make policy, losers go home. If we want to win they’re going to need some new blood in here.”

Romano said Suda would likely become District D vice chairman.

“This is an exciting time for us. We are going to reenergize, replan, with some of the new members. I think it is going to be an exciting year for us on rebuilding the Republican Town Committee,” Suda said.

Lisa Brinton Thomson and Bryan Meek watch Wednesday as Norwalk Republican Town Committee Chairman Victor Cavallo concludes the evening’s caucus in the Norwalk Inn.

Brinton Thomson arrived partway through the proceedings and watched.

“I’m seeing what the Republican Party is doing. That’s all, nothing more than that,” she said.

Teased by Bill Dunne that she was going to become a Republican, Brinton Thomson said, “You never know what will happen. I came to see what the Republican Party is going to look like, and what the next two years are going to look like.”

Brinton Thomson’s former campaign manager, James Cahn, was not present and is not on the list of RTC endorsements, although he has been an RTC member. Also not on the current list is Darline Perpignan, John Bazzano and Emily Wilson, all of whom have run for office.

“We are in a party rebuild mold. We want to have as many active forward thinking people as we can gather,” Romano said to the crowd, seeking to inspire attendees after Cavallo’s procedural announcement. We are going to try to make a concerted effort, and encourage every district to do that, to not only have good hardworking people that are part of the RTC but to build a minimum of 10 auxiliary members and also start building… associate members.”

Ann Artel, 96, participates in Wednesday’s Republican Town Committee caucus.

“We are a great group of people with a lot of good principles,” Romano said. “We are in a state that’s in trouble, we are in a city that’s in trouble and it’s going to be in worse trouble as time goes by. So we need to make a lot of changes and be part of a movement. A couple of times, the word progressive went through my mind but I don’t mean that all, it’s a positive, not progressive…. To do things that are conservative-minded, good for the general public and that suit all of our need and our families for the future to come.”

Conroy, who resigned as RTC chairman in December, called the evening “very cordial.”

About the future of the party, Conroy said, “The local Republicans have always been pro-town, good results in government so I’ve just never had a real problem with the collective effort. Maybe the individual effort last time was a little bit poor.”

The RTC is made up of a maximum 100 members, with 20 members from each of Norwalk’s five districts. A tentative list of the newly elected RTC members, who will take office in March should there be no challenges:

 

 

District A (19)

  • Robert Antunes
  • Ann Artell
  • Richard Bonenfant
  • Maureen Bonenfant
  • Thomas Cullen
  • John Einstman
  • Fred Fusci
  • Peter Havens
  • Mary Keegan
  • Mariusz Kossarski
  • Catherine Lauder
  • Daniel Lyons, Sr.
  • Karen Doyle Lyons
  • Frank Mauro
  • Richard McQuaid
  • Robert Mercurio
  • Matthew Surapine
  • Rosemary C. Tobin
  • Christopher Watson

 

District B (3)

  • Enrique Santiago
  • John Flynn
  • Cesar Ramirez

 

District C (15)

  • Carol Andreoli
  • Olga Arteaga
  • Fred Bondi
  • Vincenzo Capozzoli
  • Thomas Donaher
  • Glenn Iannaccone
  • Michael Intrieri
  • James Kamen
  • Artie Kassimis
  • Michael O’Reilly
  • Brian Smith
  • John Tobin
  • Drew Todd
  • Theresa Quell
  • Charles Yost

 

District D (16)

  • Joseph Beggan
  • Anthony Coppola
  • Marc D’Amelio
  • Peter Halladay
  • Chris Handrinos
  • Doug Hempstead
  • Mickey Koleszar
  • Bryan Meek
  • Shannon O’Toole-Giandurco
  • Jerry Petrini
  • John Romano
  • Vinny Scicchitano
  • Emerson Straniti
  • Kelly Straniti
  • Martin Tagliaferro
  • Mark Suda

 

District E (20)

  • Larry Cafero
  • Victor Cavallo
  • Andy Conroy
  • Ray Cooke
  • Santo Delallo, Jr.
  • Ernie DesRochers
  • Bill Dunne
  • Jim Feigenbaum
  • Isabelle Hargrove
  • Josh Jewett
  • Joe Kendy
  • Jeffrey Konspore
  • Kathryn Martino
  • Peter Nolin
  • Andrew Price
  • Felix Serrano
  • Colin Smith
  • Fred Wilms
  • Mike Harden
  • Marilyn Knox

14 comments

Al Bore January 11, 2018 at 8:01 am

Remember it is the top of the ticket that counts as the republicans learned last November and the republicans have not had a viable candidate since Moccia. They need new blood in the party because the good old boys club does not work anymore. Norwalk is heading in the wrong direction with apartments being built everywhere, illegal apartments that no one in city hall does anything about, stagnant property values, lot’s of traffic, and one of the most expensive school systems that residents move away from because it is fair at best. With all that being said Norwalk voted last November to keep it the same because the republicans had no one at the top of the ticket that had a chance from the first day it was announced. The new blood coming in needs a platform that will address the tough issues above and not run on a platform that Norwalk needs a boys club for after school events, although nice.

Isabelle Hargrove January 11, 2018 at 6:41 pm

Congratulations to Victor Cavallo, Karen Doyle Lyons and Brian Smith for a flawlessly executed caucus.

I loved the energy and the positive vibe we all felt last night. It was thrilling to see so many veterans of the RTC with a twinkle of renewed excitement in their eyes and all the new comers so eager to make a difference. Norwalk will be well served by this group, you just watch (or come join us to make it happen!).

Samuel Bouk January 12, 2018 at 9:20 am

I have to take issue with Ms. Lyons’ comments about renters. It demonstrates how out of touch Republicans in Norwalk are when it comes to how the city actually functions. As a renter, I know that my property taxes are already incorporated into my monthly rent, and landlords pay the taxes. I am paying my fair share. We are not freeloaders of the city’s public goods. Also, the Hospital is not a city service.

Second, if Ms. Lyons is so concerned about the city’s finances, maybe we could reflect on how her husband just cost the city $300,000 from his reckless behavior on the board of education.

Donna Smirniotopoulos January 12, 2018 at 4:53 pm

@Samuel Bouk, renters do not have the same tax burdens homeowners do. To a very limited extend landlords build their tax obligations into the rent. But the biggest single limiting factor on rents is supply and demand and not the cost of doing business in Norwalk (i.e. paying property taxes). Also the city can create enterprise zones and otherwise incentivize development through tax credits. Homeowners are not given tax credits for renovations and improvements. Quite the opposite. Our tax burden increases. If the NPS budget goes up because the city is lazy about illegal apartment enforcement and does not put a moratorium on new apartments, it’s the homeowners who will bear a disproportionate amount of the burden. It’s not just per pupil costs but SPED and ELL costs.

If Norwalk wants to perform the admirable but difficult work of educating a disproportionate number of non-English speaking students and students who require special services compared to our neighbors, we need to figure out how to pay for it.

Patrick Cooper January 12, 2018 at 6:22 pm

@Samuel Bouk – please don’t personalize Ms. Lyons comments. It’s not you – it’s the system that Norwalk landlords exploit – or perhaps – “leverage”.

You believe your “property taxes” are baked in to your rent. BUT – they ain’t your taxes – they are the landlords. You my friend pay “rent” – deal with it. You DO NOT pay property taxes, unless you own real property.

The math is purposefully fuzzy – because it’s a pool. It’s more than likely you’re paying “in excess” of what your property taxes would be – because the landlord can get away with it. And – you forfeited that savings when you chose to rent – rather than put the down-stroke on a home. At 20% (to avoid insurance) – that’s a tidy sum. A 450,00 mortgage? 90 grand.

However, the landlords and their ilk have found a way to game the Norwalk system. WHY do you think almost EVERY single new development is Apartments? Coincidence?

Nuff said – but Ms. Lyons has a point. You do realize 90% of the towns budget is funded by property taxes. Can you understand why true “home-owning” residents might be fed up with apartment providers who game the system, grease the mechanism – and in turn pay less than a fair share of the taxes needed to support the very people they house.

Show me how I’m wrong – please.

Mike Mushak January 12, 2018 at 9:42 pm

Congratulations to the new members.

I wonder if the Norwalk RTC would consider issuing a statement denouncing our lying racist president, which is the new GOP brand whether you like it or not.

Until then, the CT GOP will not be taken seriously on both a local or state level, especially if the goal is to reach out to minorities and to try to win elections.

Donna Smirniotopoulos January 13, 2018 at 12:55 am

The great thing about party politics is that as long as you’re loyal, it almost doesn’t matter what kind of vile behavior you engage in. The party will protect you.

Rayj January 13, 2018 at 11:05 am

@pat cooper >>:: show me where I’m wrong ? <<<<<< what’s with enuff said? I don’t know what wasn’t said if you won’t say it. I’m left with “landlords are gaming the system” and deal with it”. Aren’t the apartment developers the landlords , and do they get away without paying taxes ?

Pat Longo January 13, 2018 at 12:02 pm

I am an elderly renter at Avalon East Norwalk and pay $2600/month + utility charges for a 2 bedroom apartment. My lease will expire in June, and I will soon be faced with large rent increases that I will not accept, so I will be moving out of Norwalk. I have no interest in purchasing a home at my age and I am a widow.
Does Avalon pay enough in property taxes?

Rick January 13, 2018 at 7:02 pm

new GOP brand? Like Murphy is role model?

Washington – Sen. Chris Murphy’s campaign for re-election raised $1.5 million in the last quarter of 2017, per his campaign .

Year-end reports to the Federal Elections Commission are not due until Jan. 31, but Murphy’s campaign decided on an early release of some information.

Earning votes and not paying for them was always the old Democratic way , its somewhat insulting to think targeting Minorities is the way to win.We are all equal before and after all elections are we not?

It said Murphy ended the year with $7 million in cash on hand and raised “an unprecedented $10.4 million” in his first bid for re-election.

if the goal is to reach out to the wealthy Chris has done a great job.

Rick January 13, 2018 at 8:46 pm

@Pat

apartment demand isn’t growing. in fact , multifamily housing starts are up to their 55-year average, so supply is increasing.This actually was in a Avalon stock report last week.

real estate investors may also contemplate putting apartment REITs on their warning lists, this is basic knowledge.

Landlords may have finally pushed apartment tenants to the limit of what they can afford this seems to be all over Norwalk.

building much-needed housing doesn’t seem to be good advice nor does it sound like a good investment

Avalon Stock June 5 of last year was $199 Jan 12 of this year its $168 you seem to be paying for their loss

This would mean a trend in Norwalk would be build apartments the city wont need , build a mall Ct didn’t need ‘ I see a trend here.

When ever you hear the arguments what Norwalk needs ,you never see facts like empty space in Norwalk store fronts apt vacancies condo vacancy , then to get a regional feel for vacancy you never hear about the large empty buildings not only empty but for a long time.

Go to Google the only businesses on west ave are bars and clubs only ones making money now are the towing companies and bail bond companies.

So much for urban planning, yet Norwalk wants more condos and apts , those Waypoint residents are lucky they have cascading stair waterfalls as a new bonus they should be so lucky.

There is no question taxes pay for all services yet where is the study that says these complexes pay for themselves?

Politicians and their Jesters or fools continue to suggest what the city needs and wants , notice no one is talking the quality of new housing anymore, Norwalkers are getting use to substandard buildings yet fit the building code for whom?

Your highest Contributors to our political system I bet.

other facts like $100 is worth $91.91 in Ct and we are in the middle of a fiscal crisis seems to elude the urban planners, then again its hard not to deliver on promises when your looking a the checkbook.

Pat it sounds so insincere but maybe Avalon is doing you a favor.

For those who argue without facts get some Stamford has them so doesn’t Westport and Bridgeport where are Norwalks?

Bet they left with Norwalk Economic Development Director Elizabeth Stocker.Did anyone ever hear her say anything about Norwalks ?

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