Norwalk election notes: Endorsements and a debate controversy

The election is Nov. 6.

NORWALK, Conn. – Here’s a collection of election-related items for you:

  • National voter registration day at SoNo Library
  • Lavielle gets conservationist group’s endorsements
  • Flynn gets independent party endorsement
  • Wilms named to Pension Sustainability Commission
  • No candidate forum in the 140th
  • Wells details registrar’s efforts to confirm citizenship


Get your voting ‘passport’

The League of Women Voters of Norwalk is offering a family-friendly event Tuesday at the SoNo Branch Library to celebrate National Voter Registration Day.

You can drop in between 6 and 8 p.m. to the event, titled, “Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Voting … But Were Afraid To Ask,” and visit a variety of stations to ask questions about any aspect of voting, for example:

  • How to find out where to vote
  • What kind of ID to bring to the polls
  • How to mark your ballot
  • How your vote gets counted
  • Accommodations for voters with disabilities

The event is free; the library is at 10 Washington St.

“Norwalk’s Registrars of Voters will set up a series of educational stations focusing on different aspects of the voting process, and visitors will get a ‘passport’ booklet. For each station visited, a sticker will be put on the appropriate page of the person’s passport. To make it easier for families to attend, pizza will be provided,” according to a press release issued by the League of Women Voters.

“I am so glad the League of Women Voters is proactive with getting the word out,” Sherelle Harris, Norwalk Public Library Assistant Director, is quoted as saying. “We have real democracy when residents take the time to choose officials who will represent their values and will make decisions about things that are important to them. That is the way we get a government that represents its citizens. Staying home on Election Day is the equivalent of saying, ‘I will let others decide my fate.’ Some people mistakenly think their lone vote won’t make a difference. I wish everyone would read Dr. Seuss’ Horton Hears a Who. One vote can break ties. One vote added to the collective can help win the race.  One lone vote is, indeed, very important. Vote!”

“We wanted to go beyond just registering voters to make this a fun and informative activity for all ages,” Debra D’Arinzo, a member of the League’s Voter Service Committee, is quoted as saying.

Marketing and advertising professional Virginia Atkinson, a Norwalk resident, designed the “passport.”


For more information, contact the League of Women Voters at (203) 394-1710 or [email protected]



Lavielle gets conservationist vote of approval

State Rep. Gail Lavielle (R-143) has been endorsed by the bipartisan Connecticut League of Conservation Voters (CTLCV), according to a press release.

Laveille, who has held her seat since 2011, is being challenged by Stephanie Thomas, a Democrat.

“Rep. Lavielle knows that electric vehicles are key to both reducing air pollution and expanding access to a growing, in-demand technology here in Connecticut,” CTLCV Executive Director Lori Brown is quoted as saying. “She knows that clean energy is a vibrant part of our workforce, and key to bringing more innovative, high-paying jobs into our state while also helping us turn back the clock on climate change. We need leaders like Rep. Lavielle at the State Capitol who put people ahead of politics and do what’s right for our environment and our economy.”

The release said:

“Rep. Lavielle’s endorsement, announced on September 13, was one of 15 statewide in the CTLCV’s initial round. ‘All of the candidates we endorsed today have either established themselves as true leaders in the legislators or made real commitments to be champions for the environment if elected,’ said Lori Brown.

“The CTLCV, a bipartisan, statewide, nonprofit organization, endorses candidates for the state legislature based on their positions and track record on environmental issues. They must be committed to protecting Connecticut’s land, water, air, and wildlife, and to working for sustainable solutions to pressing state issues like transportation, energy, and waste management.

“Lavielle has been a vocal proponent and advocate of legislation supporting the development and modernization of Connecticut’s transportation infrastructure and improvement of mass transit, and was recognized by the CTLCV in 2013, 2014, and 2015 for her leadership in transportation. The CTLCV also recognized her in 2016 for her leadership in protecting Connecticut’s public water supply. She introduced legislation that will facilitate brownfield remediation, and co-sponsored legislation that will increase protections for land set aside by the state for conservation. Other legislation she co-sponsored in 2017 and 2018 includes bills that would eliminate diversion of ratepayer funds from energy efficiency and clean energy programs; prohibit the collection and disposal of fracking waste in Connecticut; and improve coastal management practices.

“‘The CTLCV does an excellent job of helping us make environmental stewardship a legislative priority,’ said Rep. Lavielle, ‘and I am honored by its endorsement. I will continue to support legislation that preserves and protects our environment and our natural resources, while remaining attentive to ensuring that these initiatives are undertaken within a framework of sound fiscal discipline. I’m grateful to the CTLCV for being such a valuable, active partner in helping legislators develop sound environmental policy.’”



Flynn endorsed

Republican District 140 State Representative candidate John Flynn will appear on the ballot on the Independent Party line.
Flynn sent NancyOnNorwalk a jpeg of a letter he got from the Secretary of State on Sept. 7, saying that his petition had been examined and approved.

“Home run today,” Flynn wrote.

Flynn is running against Democratic candidate Common Council member Travis Simms and Working Families Party candidate Colin Hosten, a Human Relations Commissioner.  NancyOnNorwalk reported Friday that Flynn has filed nine unsuccessful lawsuits and claimed that Gov. Dannel Malloy and police sought to have him killed.


Wilms named to new Commission

State Rep. Fred Wilms (R-142) has been appointed to the Connecticut Pension Sustainability Commission by House Republican Leader Themis Klarides, a Sept. 8 press release said. The appointment was effective immediately.

“I am honored to accept this appointment and I thank House Republican Leader Klarides for placing her trust in me,” Wilms is quoted as saying. “I believe that if we do not address our unfunded liabilities now, the impact on Connecticut’s economy could be irreversible. We need to make structural changes in the way Hartford has been doing business. I look forward to working with the other members of the commission to address our state’s pension system.”

The Commission was created as part of the 2017 biennial budget “to explore the feasibility of establishing a trust composed of state assets for the benefit of the state pension system – the single largest component of the biennial budget,” the release said. “The commission is tasked with identifying state assets that may be suitable for the trust, studying the impact of placing those assets in the trust, and developing procedures for managing the trust.”

It’s universally agreed that Connecticut’s underfunded pension system is a primary contributor to Hartford’s perpetual budget struggles.

“Rep. Wilms, a financial professional by trade, brings a wealth of experience and business acumen to the commission,” the release said. “In Hartford, Wilms is a key member on the legislature’s high-powered Appropriations Committee, which is responsible for allocating funds to the state’s various departments and agencies, and has significant budget oversight.”

Wilms is a Webster Bank Senior Vice President working with area small businesses and former Norwalk Board of Estimate and Taxation chairman.

Wilms is being challenged for reelection by Lucy Dathan, a Democrat who lives in New Canaan.




What happened to District 140 forum?

The League of Women Voters of Norwalk has scheduled a forum in every legislative race except for the District 140 contest.

“After careful consideration, the League of Women Voters of Norwalk would like to confirm that because we are unable to find a mutually agreeable date or format for the candidate forum we will not be holding one for the 140th district,” Mary Oster wrote in a September email.

Flynn, who is running against Simms and Hosten, saw a conspiracy in the decision.

In a Sept. 12 email, he wrote:

“I was invited to debate.

“I challenged Coilin Hosten to a debate multiple times.  I agreed to debate anytime, anywhere.

“Colin agreed.

“I filed an ethics complaint against {Democratic Town Committee Chairman Ed} Camacho for conflict of interest.

“Somehow the debate is off and Camacho should have had no input.  He is chairman of the DTC.

“Do not allow Camacho as DTC chair, to interfere with the election.”

Hosten is also dismayed by the lack of a forum.

“I was looking forward to a forum hosted by the League of Women’s Voters, and am disappointed that Councilman Simms chose not to participate, and that he’s also missed key votes as a member of the Common Council, which seems unfair to the people he represents,” Hosten wrote in an e-mail to NancyOnNorwalk.

Simms did not respond to an email asking for comment.

League of Women Voters member Elsa Peterson Obuchowski said Flynn requested that he be allowed to ask two questions each of the other candidates. The League considered this but declined, and the forum was not scheduled.

Anyone could plan a forum with a different co-sponsor, Oster wrote to the candidates and Party leaders.

“In the place of the candidate forum, we are offering to publish a voter guide both on line and on paper to be distributed and publicized widely within the 140th district,” she wrote. “We will send details shortly but it will consist of 3-4 questions that you will be asked to answer.  We will then format and publish.”

Flynn has said on Facebook that the Norwalk Branch NAACP is attempting to organize a debate or forum.

Norwalk Branch NAACP President Brenda Penn-Williams did not reply to a Friday request for comment.

On Friday, Flynn wrote: “I asked Travis Simms and Colin Hosten to help me fix South Norwalk, when I challenged them to debate prior to the primary. I promised to help them, but I have no idea what they are doing. They will not debate.”



Checking the records

Norwalk Democratic Registrar Stuart Wells is always a font of information. So when NancyOnNorwalk asked this week whether Hosten is a U.S. citizen, Wells had more to say than just “yes.”

Wells wrote:

“Colin Hosten registered to vote in Norwalk in 2017. The application form requires him to state under penalty of perjury that he is a U.S. Citizen. Additionally, he listed his driver’s license number as proof of identity and address. The state-wide voter registration system checks the driver’s license number with the Department of Motor Vehicles via a match of computer record to computer record. We are not allowed to see the DMV record, but our records indicate that the two records matched, i.e. we did not receive computer system notice of a non-match from DMV.  Therefore we conclude that Colin has a valid Connecticut Driver’s License.

“My understanding is that you must prove either citizenship or legal residence in the U.S. to get a Connecticut Driver’s license. We would (I believe) get a “non-match” from DMV if Colin was not a citizen. Additionally Colin’s Driver’s License number is a similar nine-digit number to all others that we accept as proof. Therefore we have no indication whatever that Colin is not a citizen. Because we cannot see DMV computer records we must rely on these second hand verification of citizenship procedures.”


Sue Haynie September 24, 2018 at 6:19 am

@NON, Can Stuart Wells clarify if he knows if permanent residents can vote in Norwalk or Connecticut?


….. The following is a list of basic rights and freedoms of permanent residents.

Rights of Permanent Residents

As a permanent resident, you have the right to:

Apply for a driver’s license in your state or territory.
Vote in local (but not federal) elections where U.S. Citizenship is not required. There are a few jurisdictions where permanent residents may vote in local elections. You can obtain information regarding voting qualifications in local elections from your local voting authority.
A permanent resident should be cautious about the exercise of some of these rights. A firearms-related conviction, voting in a federal election, leaving the United States under certain circumstances, and other actions could result in ineligibility for citizenship and, in some cases, even result in the revocation of permanent resident status.

Stuart Wells September 24, 2018 at 6:50 am

Drivers’ License records are secret. Consequently the Registrar’s cannot see what the DMV actually does when it matches a Driver’s License number and name with its records. In particular, what does a non-match mean? Sometimes it means that the checking system is “down” because we have reentered the info for some non-matches and then gotten a match the next day. But suppose you register to vote using a nick-name such as “Bob” for “Robert”? or a shortened version such as “Alex” for “Alexander”? And would, say, “Alex” or “Alexander” also match the various Greek, Italian and Russian spellings of “Alexander”? We don’t know — but we do know that DMV alters the suffix in your name, because mine is “3rd” on my license, but “III” everywhere else, and we know that you can’t have two first names on your license, so “Mary Kate” or “Jim Bob” is just out of luck. Maybe we misread your marvelous hand writing when we entered your name — we really don’t have the time to try every possible variation in spelling just to see when we get a match. Anyway, a non-match would not mean that someone is not a citizen or using a fake ID.

Sue Haynie September 24, 2018 at 7:17 am

Hi Stuart, Thanks for your quick response. I understand your office can’t access DMV information. What I’m asking though is if you know if a non-citizen, but permanent resident, is legally allowed to vote in a local Norwalk or State of Connecticut election?

Elsa Peterson Obuchowski September 24, 2018 at 8:30 am

The Secretary of the State website clearly says you must be a U.S. citizen living in CT in order to register to vote. https://portal.ct.gov/SOTS/Election-Services/Voter-Information/Voting-Eligibility

You can only vote if you are registered. Therefore, if you are not a U.S. citizen you are not eligible to vote in CT.

If I understand correctly, the FindLaw page cited by Ms. Haynie is referring to rights of permanent U.S. residents around the country. There may be some jurisdictions in other states where permanent residents are allowed to vote in local elections. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Right_of_foreigners_to_vote_in_the_United_States

Pamela Parkington September 24, 2018 at 10:17 am

Sue Haynie is Mr. Flynn a US Citizen? Did you question his citizenship or ask Stuart Wells about his status too?

How do we know that YOU are US Citizen? For all we know you may not be one and have registered to vote too.

You’re going on the word of a man who believes that there are hit men after him, doesn’t that give you pause?

Piberman September 24, 2018 at 10:35 am

Rep. Gail Lavielle is by far the most accomplished Legislator from Norwalk I’ve seen in 4 decades with an unmatched major league business career overshadowing any other candidate for public office or elected official in Norwalk’s modern history. Her candidacy merits close attention.

Stephanie Thomas September 24, 2018 at 11:20 am

I applaud the League of Women Voters of Norwalk and other organizations rallying around National Voter Registration Day to ensure that our citizens engage in participatory democracy! However, getting out the vote is only half the issue. For our elections to truly be participatory, we need a system that doesn’t require participants to present themselves to vote on just one day. Yet Republicans in our state legislature voted as a block against Early Voting which would allow a longer timeframe for people to vote. Only 3 Republicans crossed party lines to ensure that Connecticut residents could exercise this fundamental American right; none from Norwalk. Representatives Gail Lavielle and Fred Wilms both voted “Nay.”

As I have gone door-to-door speaking with voters, it is clear that one sick child, an ailing parent, a family emergency, a non-understanding boss, a delayed Metro-North train, working two or more jobs, and plain forgetfulness can often derail the best of intentions. Over 35 states currently enjoy Early Voting and I hope that a Democratic-led General Assembly will be able to finally make this a reality for Connecticut by voting “Yay” in the next session so that you, the voter, can decide at the ballot box in 2019 if it is something you want.

Please mark you calendars for November 6th and make a plan to go out to the polls. Apathy is winning more elections than Democrats or Republicans. We need to hear from everyone to ensure that everyone is represented in our government – the way it’s supposed to be.

Stephanie Thomas
Candidate for State Representative, 143rd District and advocate of voting rights!

Sue Haynie September 24, 2018 at 12:38 pm

@Pamela Parkinson, there were 6 ‘election-related’ bullets in this Nancy on Norwalks post. I asked about Bullet #6 and it appears that Elsa Obuchowski answered it (and thanks to her). I am not following or concerned with whoever ‘Flynn’ is.
I asked a simple question, can permanent residents who are non-citizens vote in Norwalk or Connecticut? It appears that the answer is no.

Teresa Petersen September 24, 2018 at 1:03 pm

It’s APPALLING that this question about whether Colin is a citizen or not continues. The guy (Flynn) who seriously thinks the police *put out a hit on him* continues to push this easily provable lie, which was reportedly started by Travis Simms before the primaries.

If Simms and Flynn feel they need to lie to voters to win, I certainly wouldn’t want either one representing us. It’s unethical and disgusting.

So to be clear: COLIN HOSTEN IS A CITIZEN. Colin says he’s a citizen. The Working Family’s Party says he’s a citizen. They checked. The Registrar says he’s a citizen. He checked. It’s not a debate. No ones “opinion” on this issue matters. Facts matter. Or at least they used to.

Rick September 24, 2018 at 1:08 pm

Asking for election status from those who can’t even maintain decent fire dept presence in their section of the city leaves a lot of doubt where priorities sit.

While Rome burns.

East Norwalk continues to be left without proper coverage or not enough while the New High Rise breaks ground.Increased traffic and congestion slowing response time adding not enough ambulances for the city simply shows why leadership needs to be checked as well.

Rick September 24, 2018 at 2:04 pm

Working Family’s Party has its issues the way they operate its like taking money from Meadow st polluters and the city for something like a Manressa hoax study and calling it a day. Follow the money folks , if you can with the Working party. ( Manressa has been reactivated as what now? )

But don’t go with my take others before me have spelled it out,


The Working Families Party’s agenda—frankly redistributionist and devoted to social equality—targets a class of Democratic elected officials who, in the view of many liberals, seem to listen more to their moneyed donors than to the left-wing rank and file. Aggressive, tactical, and dedicated to winning, the WFP would like to force Democrats—and the country—to become more liberal by mobilizing the party base, changing the terms of the debate, and taking out centrist incumbents in primaries.

Its almost like the one who wrote this two years ago knew something about politics. Talk about insight of a journalist.

lie to voters is a sport in Norwalk have you ever seen so many voters appalled at whats gone on the list grows daily at least here where the gloves come off and its exposed for whats it worth .

Simms and Flynn feel they need to lie to voters to win? Desperate times now that all the issues have been brought forth health safety and the quality of life in many meetings in South Norwalk alone brought Travis and John to the table.

Please keep taking swings at those who speak up and nothing more is needed to get the voters out to ensure the best candidate wins.

The district sees who fights for them all the red herrings in the world wont change the last couple of months those meetings I spoke of did for the residents. That’s where the issues were in the trenches and to think they were all the parties issues and not just the working families.

For the record I vote in the Granite state I have for years so whats my agenda?

The elderly the children the folks who have been hurt by those who wave a big stick and have no solutions.

Shame Duff has done nothing wrong or he would be in this forum as well.

V September 24, 2018 at 2:23 pm

Does anyone know of a “non citizen” who was actually elected to office and then ‘found out’ about? Proven, if you will, to have not been a citizen

john flynn October 15, 2018 at 10:37 pm

40 of Norwalk’s 45 issues are in the 140. I have been very vocal about it. I will debate anytime, anywhere, naked, upside down and backward. enjoy.

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