Simms wins District 140 caucus; Hosten promises to primary

Common Council member Travis Simms (D-District B), right, speaks to voters Thursday in the South Norwalk Community Center. Listening from left are Second Taxing District Commission Chairperson David Westmoreland, who chaired the caucus, and District B Democratic leader Darlene Young.

NORWALK, Conn. — The hometown guy prevailed Thursday as Travis Simms won the Democratic 140th District caucus for State Representative.

Simms, Common Council representative for District B, got 72 votes to prevail over the 40 for newcomer Colin Hosten, with 11 votes set aside as “provisional,” to be counted Friday if they are eligible. Hosten said he would petition for a primary.

Speaking after the vote to Board of Education member Barbara Meyer-Mitchell, a Hosten supporter, Simms said, “They tried to put a black face over here to say, ‘Run against these folks.’ That’s absurd because they don’t like African Americans who don’t rubber-stamp what they do in this city.”

Across town, Norwalk Republicans nominated John Flynn to run for the District 140 state representative seat, being vacated by incumbent Democrat Bruce Morris.

The Democratic caucus began with some confusion as the doors to the South Norwalk Community Center were locked 6:30 p.m., advertised on the Democratic Town Committee’s website as the start time for the caucus. A SoNoCC worker eventually arrived to unlock the doors, but confusion continued as he left with only the side doors in the rear of the building open before District B Democrats propped the front doors open.

Numerous people complained about the 6:30 p.m. date, as the actual caucus began at 7:30 p.m. Deputy Democratic Registrar Ron Banks defended the set up in the SoNoCC community room as some complained that only voters should be allowed in the large open space, with Banks saying that the area set off by chains afforded voters the privacy they needed.

Hosten had been outside greeting voters for some time when Brenda Penn-Williams, who does not vote in the district, at 7:19 p.m. asked, “Where’s Travis?” Simms arrived five minutes later.

Sandra Stokes, Simms’s wife, complained to Banks.

“You can’t change to time for voting. You can’t post the time and then change the time,” she said, walking away.

The caucus began and Penn Williams and others who were not qualified to vote were asked to leave.

Patrice Hunt told caucus attendees that she lived in Village Creek, as a neighbor to Hosten,

“Generally, he cares about people and really what a good guy he is. He is very welcoming and friendly, he is very fair. He works tirelessly for the community, he is committed, he is devoted, he knows how to meditate issues,” she said, calling Hosten “very humble and gracious.”

Council member Faye Bowman (D-District B) nominated Simms, calling him “born and raised here.”

“We need someone up in the state that has the experience in politics and has the experience with making laws, and Travis Simms is that person,” she said. “Not only is he a champion here locally he is a world champion. He cares about this community very greatly.”

Each candidate got five minutes to speak, with Hosten going first.

“I was not born and raised in Norwalk but I think I have the second best distinction was that I got to choose to make Norwalk my home,” he said.

“As an educator myself what I do every day is I try to get everybody on the same page,” Hosten said. “That’s what the job is and it’s not always easy and it’s certainly not anybody’s birthright. The person who deserves to be our state representative is the person who’s going to work the hardest.”
He’s knocked on 200 doors in the past two weeks, and his campaign has reached its fundraising goal, he said.

Colin Hosten, left, greets Wilbert Brown on Thursday outside the South Norwalk Community Center. “I understand I wasn’t born in Norwalk but Norwalk is my home, I have lived here for a decade,” Hosten said the Brown, who later told NancyOnNorwalk that he was there for “the twins,” Travis and Tarvis Simms.

“My goal as our representative is to be a strong partner to the city to make sure that we’re offering cost effective educational opportunities for parents and families,” Hosten said. “And there’s a lot of things that can be done at the state level that will affect our lives here day to day.  Issues like ensuring and improving continued affordable health care, addressing gun violence as a public health epidemic which is what it is, treating drug addiction not as a crime but as a medical issue which is what it is being responsible with our environment especially when it comes to the changing climate and our coastlines and the well-being of folks who live in Norwalk’s industrial zones.”

Simms mentioned that he could have left Norwalk after becoming a “world champion boxer” and, “I want to use my platform to exercise my voice to make sure that I expose the corruption and expose the division and that also exposed the nepotism all the monies that are coming to Norwalk, that are not coming into this community, that was appropriate for this community.”

“We have lost a lot over the last decade, including sitting in this building right here,” Simms said. “This building was a staple in our community. This is vital for the folks that live here in Norwalk and particularly South Norwalk. You have a lot of Spanish you have a lot of Haitians you have a lot of African Americans that depend on the surface here.”

He said he negotiated with GGP to get a hotel on The SoNo Collection so that local people could learn to work in the hospitality industry, not just in the retail sector the mall will provide, and helped to create tax relief for seniors, describing himself “been here fighting in the trenches.”

“Still to this day I’m fighting with the Council to make sure that we hold those accountable when the comes into our area, into our district,” Simms said. “I take it very personally when I looked around my shoulder and I see a building being thrown up without any recommendations or comments from the leadership of this community.”

After the vote, Simms loudly criticized Democratic Town Committee Chairman Ed Camacho for reentering the hall.

Camacho does not live in the district. Simms said he didn’t belong in the hall and Camacho retorted that the voting was over. Simms said Hosten was on the DTC executive committee, working with Camacho.

Bowman said she’d file an ethics complaint against Camacho.

Penn Williams had also reentered the building.

As the votes were counted, Simms told NancyOnNorwalk that Mayor Harry Rilling and Camacho should be neutral about the seat but had been out campaigning for Hosten. Before running for Mayor as a Democrat, Rilling was once set to be endorsed by Republicans to run for Mayor, Simms said.

“I am a Democrat, I have always been a Democrat,” Simms said, calling Rilling unethical. Rilling and Camacho “turned our party inside out” and, “Real Democrats have to deal with this crap. It’s crazy,” Simms said. “They only look out for themselves.”

Banks announced the vote. There were 11 votes cast by people who said they lived in the district but weren’t on the active or inactive list, he said, explaining that Norwalk Democratic Registrar Stuart Wells will review them Friday and if they are eligible to vote in the district, the votes will be counted.

Hosten would have automatically qualified for a primary if the vote had been a convention, but because the district boundaries are entirely inside of Norwalk the rules for a caucus apply. Camacho said Wednesday that 15 percent of the vote in a convention would qualify for an automatic primary. Hosten will need to collect signatures to qualify or a primary.

“The turnout overall seemed pretty low. I would be interested to see how it compares to previous caucuses,” Hosten said to NancyOnNorwalk.

Nearly 320 votes were cast in the 2014 caucus, in which then- Council member Warren Peña unsuccessfully challenged Morris.

“It’s a shame what’s going on,” Simms said to Meyer-Mitchell. “…They want us to be rubber stamps to allow them to do whatever they want, and that’s never going to happen.”

“I think the people of Norwalk came out and showed that we’re not allowed to be taken advantage of and that we’re going to make sure that we have real representation for the people who really deserve it,” Simms said to NancyOnNorwalk. “And I would say I will go to bat any day to make sure that the people in South Norwalk and the people in Norwalk in general are being well spoken for and well taken care of up in Hartford.”


Stuart Wells May 25, 2018 at 6:57 am

The “provisional” ballots are most likely from voters who consider themselves to be Democrats because they always vote Democratic, but are registered as Unaffiliated. They may change their party registration from Unaffiliated to Democratic Party and be able to vote in the primary on August 14, and most will have filled out new registration cards last night in order to make this change in time for the primary. It is too late to change from one party to another, i.e. Republican to Democratic, and be able to vote in the primary.

Stuart Wells May 25, 2018 at 9:58 am

I have finished examining the outer envelopes for the 11 provisional ballots received at the 140th caucus. 3 were from unaffiliated voters. 7 were from voters who do not live in the 140th district, but just over the district borderlines. None of those ballots are countable. 1 provisional ballot was from a voter who moved within the district and could be counted — and would be, if it could change the results — but, since it can’t change the results, DTC rules say not to count the ballot in order to preserve ballot secrecy.

V May 25, 2018 at 10:29 am

While winning a World Championship belt boxing is impressive in the boxing world what does it have to do with the 140th seat? what’s the connection.

Norwalk Native May 25, 2018 at 11:00 am

Simms has a criminal past, and continues to promote divide within our community, constantly playing the race card and trying to block positive development and gentrification. Nobody should take anything that he says seriously, as his two biggest reasons for being the most qualified candidate are 1.) He was born in Norwalk 2.) He’s a champion boxer…what do either of those two things have to do with being qualified to make decisions that are best for the community?

Rick May 25, 2018 at 12:01 pm

You don’t think everything in South Norwalk doesn’t come without a fight?

Lets be serious the new round of news coming out of South Norwalk will be about quality of life and who trashes it in South Norwalk’

Hosten is in the right church wrong pew , he walked away from controversy once Rilling gave him a bone.

Rilling unethical. Rilling and Camacho “turned our party inside out” its a fact like it or not.

How abut some truth on Ryan park you know those people who live there have concern where is the city?

Norwalkers are those people

Patrick Cooper May 25, 2018 at 2:26 pm

What gives with the local Democratic Party? They all but 100% control our municipality – but these inter-party squabbles show real chaos in the machine. This of course is bound to happen when the party leadership’s secret problem with “the community” is finally revealed. A problem? True.

Can’t understand why Harry is so comfy with “Human Relations Commissioner” (what is that?) Colin Hosten. I have to figure Harry desperately want’s “vote no Tremendous” to move to Hartford – maybe even Atlanta – but just get off my rubber stamp council (no not you Doug). Harry views any dissention as a slippery slope towards no-longer-mayor. Don’t take the same approach with all the free desserts you accept around town – you’ll need new suits.

Travis is making promises to the flock – when I go to Hartford – I’ll get “us” our piece of the free cheese. Just wonder who “us” is? How is that different from Bruce – who had at it for a dozen years? News flash Travis (and BOTH parties) – Hartford is broke. They’ve handed out so much free cheese the cows are dying (or leaving for North Carolina or Florida). No – the first time I hear any candidate talk about developing new revenue sources will be the first time I’ve heard any candidate (other than Lisa Britton Thomson) talk about new revenue sources.

No – this is just another example of how “it” works locally. It’s always about “personality” – and local roots. When will Norwalk demand a COMPETECY criterion? What demonstrable skills, experience, and accomplishments do our candidates / elected officials bring to the job? When we ask these folks to show a CV – they show us a CVS badge.

I live by the Monty Python philosophy – “Always look on the bright side of life”. The good news here? I just amended my cable bill: with the local democratic party now tearing each other apart, I no longer need animal planet. Lucky me.

Rick May 25, 2018 at 2:35 pm

i could also take almost word for word Colin spoke and argue he is wrong . Village creek has lost big time on this new hazmat debris and rock crusher and other issues that dot the landscape, he had his chance to listen at least show concern until our Mayor took interest in his ambition.

It slaps South Norwalk in the face some of the things he finds factually correct on the environmental aspect of South Norwalk.

Recently a Kennedy in Ct from Branford fought for controls on pollution along the coast, Duff and Perone were no where to be seen or heard on the bill. We dont need a third sitting in Hartford and not doing anything we need.

The Democrats have divided their own party left it so broken its not functional and we can blame who for this?

I suggest those throwing stones to dig deep , its what Simms didn’t do to screw the city that needs a look at as well. He is a minority there surrounded by experts picked by the mayor to ignore vocal opposition and take care of business no matter who gets hurt.

Its obvious what is reported by Wells is a problem the city needs to get it right and kick the dirty players out who are running the show.

This was not why the democratic party has a credibility problem right now taxpayers have been played and not one person can be blamed. One party can be.

Issues were hidden the last few weeks leaving a lot of residents wondering what is going on, now this phase of picking leadership is over when does Norwalk address issues that were buried ?

Debora Goldstein May 26, 2018 at 5:56 pm

Thank you Stuart, for the update on the provisional ballots. I don’t live in South Norwalk or the 140th, but I am very concerned about putting another “rubber stamp” vote on the Common Council. Mr. Hosten is very likable, but was on the wrong side of the land swap issue. Given the fact that the City has to be dragged into paying attention to environmental issues in places like Ryan Park, and now Veterans Memorial Park, I think that South Norwalk made the right choice.

Donna Smirniotopoulos May 27, 2018 at 8:03 am

Colin may have been on the wrong side of the land swap. So was I one year ago. There is a steep learning curve on the Ely school project. I can’t fault Mr. Hosten for not being on top of that one. Travis Simms, for his part, has been inattentive to the mayoral appointment process that results in gentrification. Every time he nods his head in approval to one of Rilling’s appointees, he gives the mayor one more yes vote for an apartment development that will principally benefit the developer. Also, as President of a homeowners association, Hosten knows how to advocate for residential property owners/taxpayers in the post-SALT cap world. I have a great deal of respect for Travis. But I do not believe he has evidenced much concern for residential property owners—the ones who fuel the schools and services.

Martha A Wooten Dumas May 27, 2018 at 2:33 pm

It’s sad to see how Ed is working when we all can work for the good of South Norwalk, but what we have as democrat’s are really republicans turn democrats just to get their agenda in place. Moving these new developer in, and people can’t afford to live here, but because even graduating from college still can’t find the job. And yes we do have people with criminal records, due to how this system is setup, but some are really trying to find employment. And for some reason that so call 2nd chance program don’t apply to them. So for someone to really help South Norwalk and all of South Norwalk (village Creek, Gold Hill, and the South Norwalk that is within this circle) they need to attend District B meeting.

Donna Smirniotopoulos May 27, 2018 at 4:41 pm

@Martha, when is the next District B meeting, and is this open to everyone in District B regardless of party of registration? Also Village Creek is not part of District B.

As a resident of District B and the 137th, my frustration is tied to a lack of representation both locally and at the state for residential property owners. My own little neighborhood contributes roughly one million dollars in property tax dollars to the city annually. We have very few children in the neighborhood, so we’re contributing much and getting back very little. People invested here because they had faith in the neighborhood and the city back in the post Sandy/pre-Rilling period. My taxes have gone up more than 25% since I bought my home. It’s not just people who can’t find jobs or who can’t afford to live here that we need to worry about in South Norwalk. It’s people like me who are being chased out by high taxes. And once we go, there will be no money to fund schools and services because the city can’t figure out how to grow the economy in spite of all the new apartments. These are problems that have nothing to do with political party and everything to do with political will.

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