Camacho named DTC chairman

Norwalk Attorney Edwin Camacho is a member of the Board of Estimate and Taxation.

Updated 11:26 p.m.: Warren Peña nominated King. Updated, 2:10 p.m.: Comments from Ed Camacho

NORWALK, Conn. – A new leader was chosen to take the helm of the Democratic Town Committee Monday night in a split vote that may have inflamed racial tensions.

District B DTC member Edwin Camacho, a DTC newcomer, and former DTC Vice Chairwoman Brenda Penn-Williams competed to succeed Chairwoman Amanda Brown at the DTC meeting Monday night, with Camacho winning on the third vote, according to witnesses. The first two votes were tied 17-17. District A DTC member Steve Serasis came in late, abstained on the second vote and then swung it to Camacho on the last vote, sources say.

At that point, a source said, Penn-Williams and all the other African-Americans walked out. They congregated outside, expressing anger and disappointment, said the source, who requested anonymity.

It was disappointing when they all walked out, Camacho said Tuesday afternoon. “We obviously need to bring the party together as a result of this vote. It’s been perceived by some people as something that is not always heading in a positive direction.”

Camacho, an attorney who had served on the Fair Housing Advisory Commission, campaigned for Mayor Harry Rilling in the fall election. He was subsequently named to the Board of Estimate and Taxation.

After Camacho was elected DTC chairman, someone nominated Penn-Williams for vice chairman, and Carolyn Fuller was then nominated, according to the source. But both had left.

Newcomer Dwain Omar King, a David Watts protege, was nominated for vice chairman by Warren Peña, a source said. Someone threw Mike Mushak’s hat in the ring – literally – but Mushak declined. King was elected.

Krysten White was elected secretary, Peña said.

Penn-Williams’ speech prior to the vote concentrated on what she had done for the African-American community, a source said. Camacho talked about his background – he grew up grew up in Harlem near 125th Street – and about the need to heal, in general terms, according to a participant. Every district should participate in the DTC, he said, according to the source.

Camacho continued the healing theme Tuesday in the context of the “number of community leaders” who walked out.

“There are a number of people that don’t know me and that’s understandable,” he said. “I think over time as we move forward and build and rebuild the party, including its infrastructure, the website, revise the bylaws, as we begin to take action steps in a positive direction I think people will want to be a part of that. It will take care of itself. But beyond that I’ve got reaching out to do and in essence mending the fences, which I intend to do.”

Camacho is a criminal defense lawyer with more than 30 years experience, according to EcamLaw.com.

“Early in his career, Attorney Camacho was staff counsel with the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund, Inc., a civil rights litigation firm in New York City and Phoenix Legal Services, Phoenix, AZ,” the website states. “Thereafter, he served as Senior Counsel, and later Administrative Judge for the New York State Division of Parole, in Albany, NY. He’s served as the managing partner of Hunter & Associates, an insurance defense firm in New York City. Most recently, from 2003 to 2007, he practiced with Ventura, Ribeiro & Smith, a plaintiff’s personal injury firm in Danbury, CT, for whom he continues to serve as Of Counsel. Camacho’s litigation and trial experience includes family law, personal injury and medical malpractice litigation, commercial litigation, criminal defense and appellate practice.”

“I don’t expect to do all the heavy lifting myself,” Camacho said Tuesday. “I don’t expect that anyone with a full time job would be able to or anyone would want to. I think there are enough people in the Democratic party, there’s enough talent, energy, interest that it’s going to be a team effort. I don’t think one person not having a lot of time on their hands is going to be an impediment.”

Peña thanked Penn-Williams for her years of service as vice chairwoman.

“It was a close vote and I’d like to congratulate Edwin Camacho and Dwain King,” Peña said in an email. “The NDTC will look to move forward in a new direction with fresh perspectives. Both Ed and Dwain are brand new to the party which is exciting. I look forward to working with them as I know they are men that are ready to roll up their sleeves to put Norwalk’s interest first.

“I would hope that the entire party would rally behind Ed to support him in this new roll. We need to make sure he has all the proper tools to do the job effectively.”

Penn-Williams declined to comment.


11 responses to “Camacho named DTC chairman”

  1. piberman

    For the BET – charged with financial management oversight of the City – to have a member who is both a local attorney and now the Democratic Party Chief can only make Norwalk politics even more interesting. Some citizens might consider a Party Chief on board in the BET as a conflict of interest Then again Norwalk is well recognized as one of CT’s best managed communities so why would anyone protest the potential conflict ? It’s Democrat politics at its best.

  2. ace22

    I thought it was quite interesting that during Camacho’s speech prior to the vote, he also admitted (which was left out of this article) that his plate is full, he doesn’t have much time on his hands, he’s inexperienced for the postion, and he’s not from here (which he did mentiom). It almost sounded like he didn’t want the position, but rather going through the process because others wanted him to. Candidly speaking, I was truly shocked by the outcome. I guess the members spoke. I just hope the future is bright for all stakeholders, not just a select few.

  3. loveforthecity

    Fine choice by the DTC.

  4. ScopeonNorwalk

    This should be interesting. I wonder whose going to do the work it takes to run a party…

  5. Adam Blank

    Camacho is a great choice by the DTC. He is bright, reasonable, cares greatly about the City of Norwalk and I expect he will be an advocate of inclusion rather than an instrument of division.

  6. the donut hole

    When is he resigning from the BET?
    Unlike a vestigial office like constable or sheriff, with fiduciary responsibility for the city this is a gross violation of ethical division of duty and he should step down from the BET immediately.
    There is no other course of action that will be acceptable.

  7. Bill

    Rightly or wrongly, Latinos are taking over Norwalk from the African Americans as the city’s largest minority, the DTC African American democrats should not act like this is a suprise; walking out of meetings because you don’t like the outcome is childish.

  8. ScopeonNorwalk

    Someone who wants to mend fences doesn’t run for a position that they no nothing about and has no time for just to stick it to another member of the committee…And Harry Rilling is no better for supporting him…and he should resign from the BET.

  9. ScopeonNorwalk


  10. Cantwejustgetalong

    Congratulations to Mr. Camacho. While Ms. Penn-Williams was an adequate choice as well, he won fair and square. I think it was utterly disrespectful and childish to walk out during the meeting. Let’s have some class people. It’s not about being black, white or latino. It’s about being Democrats and Norwalk residents above all. Why do these individuals who walked out think the Latinos have a hidden agenda? Can they not form their own NAACP? or have Leaders in their community just like the African Americans? Let us NOT FORGET our past and the struggle that occurred during the civil rights movement. Let us just get along. I hope people will look past Mr. Camacho’s race and focus more on what positive things he can do for our community and for the party overall. We need a CHANGE asap.

  11. Bring IT

    This is cool for Norwalk.

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