Updated, 3:24 p.m.: More information.
NORWALK, Conn. — Norwalk Republicans didn’t endorse any Board of Education candidates this week but Democrats will have competition nevertheless – former Mayoral candidate Lisa Brinton said she has a “full Board of Education slate and five common council candidates” ready to run under her fledgling Independents for Norwalk banner.
Independents for Norwalk isn’t yet a Political Action Committee (PAC), Town Clerk Rick McQuaid said. Instead, Brinton is working under her UDrive PAC.
The campaign finance form submitted July 12 by Brinton’s group calls the committee Independents for Norwalk. Treasurer Patrick Cooper said Friday that the group is indeed a PAC.
The State Elections Enforcement Commission (SEEC) website search function does not turn up an Independents for Norwalk filing among the 83 documents listed for the 2021 election.
Joshua Foley, State Elections Enforcement Commission Staff Attorney, said July 12 that he didn’t see any document either, “leading me to suspect that they are a local PAC filing with the town clerk.”
Brinton formed UDrive with money left from her unsuccessful 2019 bid to unseat incumbent Mayor Harry Rilling.
Her independent candidates will need to get a sufficient number of signatures on petitions to qualify for the fall ballot. Gabe Rosenberg, General Counsel to Connecticut Secretary of the State Denise Merrill, said they need 1% of the total votes cast in the previous election for the office they’re seeking.
Rosenberg said Wednesday that he’d asked for a list of candidates Brinton has registered for petitions and hoped to have it Thursday. That didn’t happen.
McQuaid said he should be able to release the list next week, after the State certifies it.
“My hope is the Independent Party will have 15 candidates approved and certified to be on the ballot by August 4th,” Brinton said Wednesday. “Candidates are from across the city and include a full Board of Education slate and five common council candidates, along with other offices. Candidates are registered under all political stripes – Independent, Unaffiliated, Republican and Democrat, but all 15 are committed to a revival of a LOCAL Independent Party. They want better representation for Norwalk residents, with focus on local issues and a more moderate and common-sense approach to city management and quality of life issues.”
Norwalk Republicans endorsed their slate Tuesday; it included eight Council candidates. Democrats endorse a slate Monday.
Democrats have dominated City government since the 2015, when they took 11 of 15 Council seats. It’s been 14-1 on the Council since the 2017 election. The Board of Education became all-Democratic in 2019.
Meaning, over the last few years a number of Republicans put their hearts and souls into campaigning and came up with nothing.
Brinton ran in 2017 as an unaffiliated Mayoral candidate in a field of four and two years ago won the Republican endorsement for Mayor, although she hadn’t registered as Republican. She received 44.5% of the vote.
Aug. 4 is the State deadline for petitioning candidates. Brinton said she’s been traveling to Hartford to register candidates for petitions because it’s “faster than waiting on the US mail.”
“Also, many state employees are still working remotely, but will come into the office if you make an appointment,” she explained. “Time is of the essence when having to get the state to print-up petitions and then gather local signatures. Since there is no LOCAL Independent Party in Norwalk – we must follow a different ballot access process.”
She continued, “We don’t have a party convention like the established Democrat and Republican parties, where their members vote on candidates. Our ‘votes’ are signatures that come from ordinary residents giving us the opportunity to be on the ballot. After the election, we’ll be able to form a Town Committee and follow the same nominating process as the other two major parties.”
McQuaid said he’d done the math and come up with approximate numbers for the petitions Brinton’s candidates need to complete.
- Board of Education candidates need about 147 signatures (they’re running at large)
- Council at Large candidates need about 161 signatures
- Council District A candidates need about 28 signatures
- Council District B candidates need about 17 signatures
- Council District C candidates need about 37 signatures
- Council District D candidates need about 42 signatures
- Council District E candidates need about 39 signatures
- A Mayoral candidate would need 159 signatures
- A town clerk candidate would need about 149 signatures
“Regarding the Republican slate – I see some candidates are experienced in city government and are to be expected, while others are newcomers,” Brinton wrote. “I think it is great for new people to get civically involved and challenge the status quo. As everyone knows, I’ve always wished Norwalk voters paid more attention to what is going on in their own backyard, than engaging in national ideological debate.”
She said, “I’ve tried to create an independent slate that will challenge local voters to demand those seeking reelection or running for the first time, regardless of party, put the interests of our city first and not be deceived by the smoke and mirror of status quo ‘party’ divisiveness or exploitation by outside special interests. Norwalk deserves better.”