NORWALK, Conn. — Norwalk Republicans met Monday – by telephone – to elect new leadership.
Carl Dickens was voted in as new Republican Town Committee Chairman, without opposition, he said. Former Board of Education Chairman Mike Lyons also faced no opposition in becoming Vice Chairman.
“There is one thing for sure, the 16th of March 2020 election will always be remembered. In a way, this meeting and election this evening are fitting. We as Norwalk Republicans are not going to allow anything to keep us down or silent where issues that impact the city, its residents, or our party are concerned. On a day when we are being told to stay inside, don’t go to work, etc. because of the virus and social distancing, we found a way to come together and move forward,” Dickens said to the RTC, according to a copy of his speech that he provided to NancyOnNorwalk.
Norwalk Republicans have suffered stunning defeats in the last two municipal elections, losing 14 of 15 Common Council races and all the Board of Education seats. The last State election saw incumbent Republican State Rep. Fred Wilms be unseated by Democratic newcomer Lucy Dathan.
“Carl is highly intelligent and has some very sophisticated ideas about how to rebuild the local GOP and generate success at the polls and in government,” Lyons said in an email. “The job of town chairman in any party is pretty thankless; it takes a lot of work, it is unpaid, and it is often unsung. Nevertheless, a good town chairman (as Ed Camacho proved for the local Democrats) can make a big difference. I’m looking forward to working with Carl as he brings his own ideas to fruition for the Republicans.”
Wilms is running to retake the seat and is facing opposition from fellow Republican Irina Comer. Dickens called them both “fine candidates” who will vie for the endorsement via a primary.
So, what about someone to oppose Democratic incumbent State Sen. Bob Duff?
“We certainly will be looking very hard for candidates,” Dickens said. “He is a formidable candidate, obviously, to go up against.”
About 60 people attended the teleconference, Dickens said. He had declined to allow a reporter to listen in, due to fears of an apparently healthy person carrying COVID-19, or the coronavirus.
The teleconference was coordinated by the State GOP, an RTC press release said.
“Unfortunately, to ensure the integrity of the votes, the teleconference was closed to non-RTC members,” the release said. “While unfortunate and not the norm, it is still in full compliance with state by-laws. The format for the meeting was consistent with that of a live organizational meeting and standard protocol.”
Former BoE member Bryan Meek was elected treasurer, defeating opponent Patrick Murphy in a 52-5-3 vote, according to the press release. Former Common Council member Shannon O’Toole Giandurco was made recording secretary, while former Norwalk Economic Director Thomas “Tad” Diesel won the corresponding role, each without opposition.
Kelly Straniti ran the meeting.
Isabelle Hargrove and Straniti “did not hesitate when it looked like we might have to postpone this meeting, they rolled up the sleeves and went to work to make this happen,” Dickens said.
Also, each district elected their leadership for the 2020-2022 term:
- Chairman: Rich Bonenfant
- Chairman: Enrique Santiago
- Chairman: John Tobin
- Chairman: John Romano
- Chairwoman: Isabelle Hargrove
Dickens replaces Norwalk Police Officer Mark Suda, who held the post for two years. Lyons replaces Liz Lyons as Vice Chair.
The rest of Dickens’ speech:
“I do believe that we have an opportunity right now to rebrand the Republican Party on the local level. I also think that it is a must-do. We must also get active in recruiting like-minded and new people into The Party; we must also take local issues that mean something to the electorate and hammer them into a genuinely Republican Platform and take strong defensible positions in the city. I believe that there are a lot of people who think as we do but have not come forward since they do not know us. Also, I believe we have an opportunity against our democratic friends that perhaps we have not had for some time.
“In the coming days and weeks, I will reach out to the District Chairs to discuss tactics and strategy, and also an Executive Committee meeting. We will then present to the membership in our next RTC meeting.
“Finally, I am no miracle worker, but a hard worker. I do not have all the answers or ideas, but this group does, and working together, respecting one another. Above all, supporting one another, we can make great things happen and find great candidates that we can put forward that will lead to Republican Victories. Thank you all again, stay healthy, and God Bless.”