NORWALK, Conn. – A pair of Common Council members who were elected as Democrats in 2011, then abandoned the party caucus with a hail of harsh words about members’ behavior, have weighed in on the latest dust-up involving party officials.
Michael Geake (D-District B) and Bruce Kimmel (D-District D) made their feelings known about the potential effect the fisticuffs between Regina and Bill Krummel and Amanda Brown could have on the Democratic Party. Brown is the chairwoman of the Democratic Town Committee, and Bill Krummel is chairman of District E. Regina Krummel is seeking nomination as a Board of Education candidate.
NancyOnNorwalk sent emails or called 10 Democratic Town Committee members Thursday and Friday, with no response. The Connecticut Democratic Party did not return two phone calls. Mayor Richard Moccia, a Republican, declined to comment.
Geake and Kimmel responded promptly.
“Since I didn’t see the actual incident, I’ll hold my opinions about that to myself,” Geake said of the incident, in an email. “As a political matter, a campaign volunteer or party official must never allow themselves to become the issue in an election.”
Geake was elected to the council as a Democrat but became unaffiliated shortly after the election in a disagreement with the party over his wife’s role in the district. He recently re-registered as a Democrat, saying he needed to do that to vote in a primary.
Kimmel didn’t mince words.
“I believe the current leadership of the Norwalk Democratic Party is an embarrassment to the city,” he said in an email.
The widely-reported incident took place Monday night, July 1, in the City Hall parking lot prior to a Democratic District E meeting. There are three versions of what happened, including a police report that provided only sketchy details and suggested Brown and the Krummels told similar stories when separately interviewed.
However, the involved parties gave differing accounts to the media. The Krummels responded to an interview request from NancyOnNorwalk on Tuesday and said that Brown aggressively approached Regina Krummel as she got out of her car. Krummel said Brown was shouting and waving a piece of paper in her face. She felt Brown was too close, so she pushed her away. Brown, 38, then pushed her, and Krummel, 82, wound up falling and cutting her elbow.
Moments later, Bill Krummel said, he slapped Brown, who then punched the 84-year-old Krummel, cutting him and leaving him with a black eye and a trip to an eye doctor.
Brown declined comment Tuesday, but released a statement Wednesday afternoon after the Krummels’ version was published, accusing Bill Krummel of hurling racial invective and portraying her approach to Regina Krummel as restrained and reasonable before she was shoved.
Reaction in the city was swift and divided. Two Democratic mayoral hopefuls, former Police Chief Harry Rilling and District D Chairman Vinny Mangiacopra, said judgment should be withheld until the details become clear. Common Councilman Matt Miklave (D-District A) and former Town Clerk Andy Garfunkel said both Brown and Bill Krummel should resign their party positions.
Both Geake and Kimmel said Friday that both party officials should step down.
“Just as Dick Morris stepped away from Bill Clinton’s re-election campaign in 1996 for the good of the campaign, so too must Amanda step away from the DTC for the good of the party,” Geake said. “Dick Morris came back after the dust settled; I have no doubt that Amanda will, too.”
Morris was involved in a scandal during Clinton’s 1996 re-election campaign. Morris was running the campaign, but left two months prior to the election when it was reported he allowed a prostitute to listen to conversations he had with the president. Morris re-emerged as a Republican political commentator with a column in the New York Post and regular appearances on Fox News. During the 2012 election, Morris, with Karl Rove, famously continued to predict a Mitt Romney victory even as exit polling showed Obama was headed for the win.
Kimmel, who has said he is a lifelong Democrat, again blasted the party he was elected to represent before announcing he would remain a Democrat but caucus with the Republicans.
Party leadership is incompetent, he said.
“During the past two years, (the Democratic leadership has) shown little understanding on how our operating budget is crafted, the impact of the AAA rating on our long-term goals, the purpose of our fund balance (rainy day fund), the relationship of cutting costs in various departments in order to fund our schools, and the proper role of the Common Council in relation to other city agencies. They seem more concerned with partisan gain than the welfare of the city.”
As for the Krummels and Brown, Kimmel said, “I think the proper thing to do, in light of all that has happened, is for Amanda Brown to step down from the chair of the DTC, and for William Krummel to step down from the chair of the District E. This entire episode is both sad and embarrassing for the city.”
Kimmel, in a comment on a NancyOnNorwalk story detailing the four mayoral candidates’ stance on the 10-year City Carting contract that outsourced Fourth Taxing District trash and recycling pickup, said he believes none of four is qualified to be mayor.
“Going by the answers provided by all four candidates on this issue — especially their refusal to say whether they would opt out of the contract — I would say none of them have what it takes to be mayor,” he wrote.
NancyOnNorwalk sought a response from all four candidates Friday via email. Only Rilling responded, saying, “Mr. Kimmel is entitled to his opinion, however I stand by my prior comments on this issue.”
Kimmel, whose Council term is up this year, said he plans to run again, but the Democrats can keep their endorsement.
“I plan to run for re-election to the Common Council this fall,” he said in an email. “I am still not sure how I will do that. I am keeping all of my options open, including the possibility of forcing a primary in District D, which I currently represent on the Council. However, one thing is certain: As I have said repeatedly over the last year, I would not accept a formal nomination from the Norwalk Democratic Party organization.”
Nancy Guenther Chapman contributed to this report.