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Morris wins South Norwalk caucus in landslide; Peña promises primary

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State Rep. Bruce Morris (D-140), right, signs his endorsement papers Tuesday as District B Vice Chairman Bobby Burgess watches at Columbus Magnet School.

NORWALK, Conn. – Incumbent South Norwalk lawmaker Bruce Morris pounded challenger Warren Peña in a two-hour Democratic caucus Tuesday night that had a feeling of excitement normally associated with a November Election Day.

The vote tally in the District 140 caucus, held at Columbus Magnet School, was 222-99. Peña, a former at-large Common Councilman, said he would do the work to force a primary, which would take place on Aug. 12.

“My plan is to go get 201 signatures and qualify for the matching grant, get the grant, and go all the way to Aug. 12 with more intensity, dedication, focus, all the way around,” Peña said.

Morris said he broke out in tears when the votes were counted.

“I said, ‘Thank God and I am honored the voters came out,’” he said.

“He did a great job. He was a better man tonight,” Peña said.

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Former at-large Common Councilman and candidate for Assembly Warren Peña greets voters Tuesday at Columbus Magnet School.

The line to vote had stretched all the way down the sidewalk, almost to the road, observers said.

“I think this turnout is amazing,” said Patrick Romano of New Haven, who said he had been a consultant on Mayor Harry Rilling’s campaign, about an hour before the polls closed. “I mean, I think there’s a lot more Bruce Morris supporters coming out, but I think that the support in the community – to me, it’s just great. A Democratic caucus for two hours on a Tuesday night to have this many people, you know, Warren has had his supporters out, I just think the turnout has been great on both sides. To me, that’s a good thing. People are at least taking it serious and voting. That’s what matters.”

“Now we just need all of these Democrats to come out in November and vote again,” Democratic Deputy Registrar Bob Sodaro said.

The voting appeared to be along racial lines.

Juana Ventura said she voted for Peña. “I think he is a good boy. He is Spanish. He’s helped a lot of people,” she said.

“I have been following him for the last couple of years. We believe that we need some change here,” Juan Ochoa said. His wife voted for Peña, too. Ochoa said Peña had helped him find a field for soccer games.

Bernice Robinson voted for Morris. “I’ve known him a long time. I’ve seen his work,” she said.

Morris said if the vote was racial, it didn’t come from him or his campaign. He referred to his campaign slogan, “Morris is for Us,” which he said was coined eight years ago by Mimi Burgess.

“For me, it’s ‘Morris is for Us,’” Morris said. “That means all of us. For todos (everybody). … To me, us is all of us.”

The voting turnout was heartwarming, he said.

“I am seriously gratified in the number of people that came out and that continue to demonstrate their support of what I have done,” said Morris. “My record, and that’s all I run on, my record, what I have done. Because that’s all people want to know – are you making a difference? In the eight years that I have been there I have made a difference on all the things I said I would when I started eight years ago.  Mine have not been empty promises. I am honored tonight that a lot of people came and reminded me of things that I had totally forgotten about.”

Those things were things he had done to help constituents, including one woman who he helped with a thesis and the voter he is currently helping with a Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities (CHRO) complaint, he said.

“People come to me and that’s my job, to help assist them as much as possible,” Morris said. “That’s what they said to me. Despite what anybody else says, my constituents say, Bruce, you have been there for us. You’re working for us. I appreciate it.”

The vote reminded him of when he was first elected to the state legislature eight years ago, he said.

“Eight years later they are saying we still trust you,” he said. “It brings tears to my eyes. It makes the trip to Hartford worthwhile. It’s about public service, serving the people and doing it honorably. Tonight I am thankful and I say glory to God. From the first day I ran I told people this isn’t politics, this is ministry. … When people come out, it validates what I am doing.”

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Bernice Robinson greets a friend after voting in the District 137 caucus Tuesday at Columbus Elementary School.

Comments

19 responses to “Morris wins South Norwalk caucus in landslide; Peña promises primary”

  1. John Hamlin

    Too bad Pena didn’t have a bus! Last thing we need is to reelect a homophobic lackey of the public employee unions!

    http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=j-TAlX5us5M

  2. Mike Mushak

    Morris is for us? Well, not everyone. Especially if you were born gay like so many of his constituents were including me. Morris voted against marriage equality in CT using the Bible as his reason, in an embarrassing display of irrational logic on the floor of the State Capitol, and now that marriage equality is sweeping the country it is clear Mr. Morris was on the wrong side of history.
    .
    Imagine a slavery supporter running in the north after the Civil War, and you can see the absurdity of Mr. Morris’s silence on this important subject of marriage equality as the world has changed all around him. He has every right to believe anything he wants, but that doesn’t make him a good representative of ALL the people in his district. I guess that “little issue” of human equality didn’t matter to his many supporters last night, or they were unaware of it which is more likely the case.
    .
    As a black man, Bruce Morris somehow fails to see the hypocrisy of his homophobia and discrimination based on sexual preferences. Most experts now agree we are born with our sexual preferences the same as we are born with skin color. You would think he would understand the emotional pain discrimination and lack of equality inflicts upon people, but in his worldview LGBT folks can sit in the back of the bus just like Mr. Morris’s grandparents and Rosa Parks had to, as he believes we are not fully human and deserving of the same rights as everyone else.
    .
    The Bible supports a lot of things our society has chosen to ignore, including slavery, subservient women who are owned by their husbands like property, eating shellfish or fat, trimming beards, getting tattoos, working on Sundays, wearing cloth of two different threads, along with condemning homosexuality, but Bruce Morris and so many other religious fanatics like him just cherry pick the bible to justify their hatred and discrimination, in the same way the bible was used by white folks to justify slavery of African Americans in the South in the 19th century. I am a person of faith and regular church-goer but understand the bible is open to interpretation and is steeped in historical context that is often no longer relevant in our modern society, including slavery, women as property of their husbands, and condemnation of homosexuality. Actually, Jesus never actually said anything about these issues, and believed we should love each other as we love ourselves, which is the true message of the bible.
    .
    There are so many reasons to not support Bruce Morris based on his record of abandoning his community including not fighting for saving NEON as it descended into chaos while he stood by doing nothing, not fighting for an overhaul of ECS funding of our schools contributing to our high property taxes, allowing without protest a clearly unfair re-districting run by Larry Cafero (that drove a wedge through established Norwalk communities to strongly favor the other side of the aisle and making voting much more difficult for many low income folks), having what many believe is an often no-show job at Norwalk’s BOE and his alleged lack of professional credentials to hold that position, as well as his well-established homophobia based on his religious beliefs which surely compromises his ability to protect LGBT youth in his BOE position.
    .
    It is time to replace Bruce Morris with someone who truly gets it, and will fight for everyone in his community regardless of race, religion, income, gender, or sexual orientation, and that person is Warren Pena.

  3. EveT

    The article on Andy Garfunkel lists his education and his career history. Will we get to read the same information on each of the other candidates this year?

  4. D(ysfunctional)TC

    I missed the genetic research proving that people are born homosexual. Is the same true for pedophiles and people who commit acts of bestiality? What about other conditions we used to think of as being life style choices? Who cares? Go Pena.

  5. concerned student

    @ Mike M, while I understand your feelings in regard to Bruce Morris.
    I don’t understand how you can say Warren Pena is the best man for the job, what do you know about his stance on the topic?
    Pena is repeatedly stating Latino power, it’s all about the Latinos, it’s time the Latinos ruled, it’s all about power and control for Pena, not diversity, oh we in the community heard Pena loud and clear and this time we didn’t have to read between the lines, please be careful , what you ask for.
    By the way have you considered running?

  6. Mike Mushak

    Concerned student, I do know Pena supports marriage equality, and I have never heard or read him say any of the other things you mention. I do know Latinos are under-represented in government on all levels, especially in Norwalk where they are a strong majority in South Norwalk based on census data. I saw firsthand Warren Pena campaign for black candidates for years in our community, so I base my opinion that he is color-blind and supports everyone in our wonderful diverse community on this well known fact. The fact that many of these same candidates are now throwing him under the bus in favor of someone they have themselves criticized in the past for not representing them well or being under-qualified is cause for concern for all of us that there may indeed be other factors at play here. It’s as if some folks have short memories and do not understand loyalty to someone who has helped them in the past.
    .
    The candidates will have plenty of time to address the issues, and we can start with a full accounting of educational background and vetting of resumes so we can compare these important professional qualifications carefully. Will both candidates please do this as soon as possible?

  7. Bill

    Pena is the future, Morris is the past. South Norwalk was a an overwhelming African american neighborhood but it is quickly becoming Latino majority, it is only a matter of time before the Latinos vote in Pena and out Morris. Too bad Morris will get his state pension before that time arrives.

  8. concerned student

    @ Mike, so you carefully chose not to read or hear anything negative Pena proposed. I didn’t make anything up, nor am I here to smear Pena, unlike you I respect a person for their beliefs and their opinions.
    I learned a long time ago that it is impossible to make anyone believe what you believe, nor can they feel the same compassion that I feel for anything I propose to make a stand for.
    Which is why the bashing of another person is uncalled for, we are adults, and please stop rehashing the past we know what happened, which is why it’s important to ban together to make our community and town a better place to live in.
    A few weeks ago you were in the hot seat, through no fault of your own, but you weren’t pleased with it, yet you would turn around and do the same thing to someone else, how does the saying go “each one teach one”, please do.

  9. Charles Jenney

    I have voted for Bruce Morris in the past and, as a Democrat, will again, perhaps.

    Bruce, your mailings to me read as if you were a Jerry Ford Republican. What’s up man?

    Caucusing in the 140 D. last night felt good, even as I stood in line where it once again occurred to me: I’ve got to show up to be counted.

    Perhaps Warren, push Bruce to the left, thereby you might just win!
    Win for all of us.

  10. Mike Mushak

    “Concerned student”, I resent your accusing me of not respecting the beliefs or opinions of others. That is not true at all. I said Mr Morris can believe anything he wants but let’s not pretend he represents his entire community when he didn’t take but a few months after getting elected the first time around before he voted against marriage equality, complete with a shocking lecture about his own personal opinions about how unnatural we all are. Imagine any politician saying that about black folks or any other minority and watch the reaction, but Morris got away with it and still hasn’t apologized or explained himself despite having had many opportunities to do so. When his beliefs denied rights to others including me, you better believe I wouldn’t forget that and neither have a lot of other people, straight and gay alike and of all colors. Marriage equality still passed in CT despite Morris’s vote, but the permanent damage was done.
    .
    Preaching on the floor of the Capitol about how superior you are to others is not leadership, it is just old-fashioned hatred which I have seen plenty of in my lifetime directed at me and millions of other Americans because of who we are. Black folks or any minority surely understand what I am describing. It hits the gut and doesn’t let go. Substance abuse and suicide rates escalate from this institutionalized hatred, and gay folks suffer just as much as any other minority that is defined as inferior by the majority. When that hatred comes from a member of another abused minority, well the hypocrisy just adds another layer of betrayal. Watching my state rep preach about how inferior I was to “straight” folks, on the floor of the Capitol no less, was as disgusting to me as watching a conservative sect of Hasidic Jews stand up and turn their backs in a packed chamber of the New York City Council chamber when a gay rights bill was being voted on decades ago. I thought, after the absolute trauma of the Holocaust, you actually can be that full of hatred for folks who you don’t like or agree with? Were no lessons learned at all? The hypocrisy defies any logic but it happens every day, and we fight back, and I for one will not let Bruce Morris get away with his hate-filled rant in Hartford years ago that we are all now supposed to forget about now, pretending like it never happened.
    .
    How exactly would you feel if someone told you that you are not equal in the eyes of God, are less than human, and don’t deserve to have the same rights as others? I have devoted my life fighting for equality for LGBT folks and everyone, marching and organizing with folks of every color and gender and sexual orientation on so many issues of injustice and bigotry. I do not intend to give up my principles now because of some petty small town politics that mean nothing to me in the face if such bigger issues.
    .
    You don’t know me at all, or my history, but I can tell you I watched an entire generation of gay folks die off in an epidemic that could have been controlled earlier except for politics and anti-gay bigotry, leading the CDC to estimate that over 200,000 lives could have been saved if Reagan had acted sooner in the early 80’s as the epidemic emerged instead of giving in to the far right religious fanatics of the so- called “Moral Majority” who thought AIDS was God’s punishment for sins, resulting in Reagan sitting for years on millions in funding from Congress to deal with the epidemic. I watched helpless for over a decade as young friends in their 20’s, 30’s and 40’s died slow painful deaths, often dealing with rejection and hatred by their own families. I had 2 suits for funerals so I didn’t have to wear the same one over and over again for years. I was in my 20’s. So please don’t cry to me about respecting opinions of others when those opinions ended in a modern-day genocide to tens of thousands of Americans including many of my own friends and loved ones. Hatred kills.
    .
    The saddest part of this whole ugly situation is that many leaders in the black community are still in denial about the existence of black LGBT folks, and pretending the multitudes of black folks with HIV (highest rates of any cultural group) mostly got it from needle sharing and not from gay sex in the “down low”, where gay black folks still have to live in fear and loneliness and self-hatred because of the cultural homophobia that still exists in some segments of the African-American community. I have had many gay black friends who have been disowned by their families and their churches when they had had so much to give. Much has been written about this, and the fact that I live in a city where my state representative thought I was less than human still turns my stomach, and watching him get praise last night as if he is was the savior in the second coming, by many folks who previously despised him for abandoning them and not helping to save NEON among other things, well that just means we still have a long way to go towards healing and acceptance in our beautiful and diverse community. Praise The Lord and Alleluia. I can preach too, but about love, not hatred.

  11. Lisa Thomson

    @ Nancy I agree with Eve, given all of the primary activity that Norwalk will have for all of the state offices, it would be nice to see the following incormation published on each of the candidates:
    – education/degrees/professional qualifications
    – work experience
    – legislative accomplishments either in Norwalk or Hartford (quantifiable – not platitudes)
    – volunteer initiatives, activites and outputs
    – political platform – what will they do to help Norwalk (quantifiable results not platitudes)
    – political platform – what policies will they endorse to make the state more livable

    1. Mark Chapman

      @lisa Thomson

      The hunting and gathering has already begun…

  12. Rewindto2013

    Don’t argue with Mike Mushak lol…I understand your feelings Mike. Which sums up the results in the Caucus. There was no way African-Americans would go cast a vote for Warren Pena who bad mouthed every black female with a leadership position in the past year, single handily drove a wedge between an African American and Hispanic community that had minor if any problems between them and campaigned door to door speaking ill of African Americans…luckily there are enough Hispanics who disagree with Pena and whom benefited from NEON for Pena to ever win probably ever again in Norwalk.

  13. Cantwejustgetalong

    What’s funny about these claims that Warren Pena is only about the Latino community is that he personally worked on the “A Better South Norwalk” group’s campaign. He was a loyal supporter of The group which the majority was African American. Of course that same group ended up throwing him under the bus. That same group that you saw support Bruce That night spoke so negatively against Bruce, bobby and the rest of that clique. It’s ironically sad to see how things have ended up. How hypocrites have banded together in view of a larger opponent.

    I personally am losing hope for south Norwalk. How can you keep voting these same clowns? Seriously maybe we need to re-educate people on how our representatives represent us in Hartford. Maybe then they will see what Bruce HAS NOT done for us.

    As for the Latinos taking over? How can an underrepresented, repressed group of people take over when other ethnicities keep viewing them as the enemy instead of a friend? Hellooooooo you are both minorities. How about you get it together and work together.

  14. Ms Ruby McPherson

    LET’S JUST GET THINGS STRAIGHT, AT LEAST 76% OF THE CLIENTS THAT RECEIVED HELP AT NEON WAS LATINO(ENERGY) AND IF YOU VISIT THE HEAD-START PROGRAMS WHEN THEY RAN THEM, MOST OF THE CLASS ROOM WHETHER TODDLERS, OR PRE-K THEY WERE 60% WAS LATINOS. THE FAMILY OUTREACH WORKER MOST OF THEM WAS LATINOS. BLACK’S ALWAYS WILLING TO HELP EVERYONE. THERE IS NO ORGANIZATION WERE IT IS JUST FOR BLACKS, BUT YOU WILL FINE ORGANIZATIONS SUCH AS HISPANIC BIZ CENTER. WE ACCOMMODATE EVERYONE, IF I GO TO MEXICO OR GUATEMALA WILL THEY ACCOMMODATE ME OR CHINA. NO, I HAVE TO LEARN OR KNOW THEIR LANGUAGE. BRUCE AS SOME WHITE REPRESENTATIVES HAVE ALSO WENT THE OTHER WAY,BECAUSE OF RELIGION OR WHAT EVER,BUT HE HAS ALSO PUSH AND HELPED. WE ALL MAKE MISTAKE. IF IT HAPPENS TO A BLACK MAN IT’S REALLY PUT OUT THERE, A WHITE MAN YOU REALLY DON’T KEEP IT GOING THAT LONG. REMEMBER THE MARSHALL GOT BUSTED FOR DRUGS, FAMILY WORKED IN CITY HALL, WHAT HAPPEN WITH THAT AND HE’S BACK WORKING. OR HOW ABOUT THE GOV. SON WHO WAS BUSTED? WE HAVE SO MANY PEOPLE EVEN IN CITY HALL LOOK AROUND, PARKS AND REC, LOOK LIKE SOME SHOULD BE RETIRING? YOU KNOW WHAT TIME IT IS FOR BLACKS TO STOP SITTING BACK AND SPEAK UP AND COME OUT AS A COMMUNITY OVERALL BUT IF NOT AS BLACK.

  15. Marge Innoverra

    I cannot imagine calling any win a “landslide” when less than 5% of voters come out.
    Mr. Morris does have one significant accomplishment- his lone piece of legislation was a law requiring employers to make any accommodation if an employee gets elected to the General Assembly. Now that’s a record of pandering to self-interests that should make Mr. Morris and the one constitute he serves (that would be himself) embarrassed.
    Examine the non-progress Norwalk has made with safe schools program (that was a part of the state’s anti-bullying laws) . The reason for no progress has been that Bruce Morris, Human Relations Officer, has not done all of the required annual reports.
    We have enough un-finished business in Hartford. Let’s not continue that dismissl track record by returning Mr. Morris to the General Assembly.

  16. Lifelong Teacher

    As another first for me, I agree wholeheartedly with Mushak’s points.

    Morris is bigoted. I will never forget Morris’ idiotic YouTube rant talking against homosexuality, his visits to the urologist and his wife’s to the gynecologist. It is an embarrassment for one out public officials to rage against same sex couples in this day and age.

    He has had a no-show job on the Board of Education for at least a decade: a job for which he doesn’t come anywhere near holding the recommended qualifications. Don’t try to find him – he’s never in and probably won’t return your email or phone calls – unless that is, you are a member if one particular group and crying racism. Know this from personal experience. And this began way before he took elected office. At least now we’re only paying him at a .5 rate.

    He stood by and supported NEON leadership as they flushed the place right down the drain. Legislative actions that improved education? I think not. The anti bullying laws are a joke and changed nothing for us out in the schools. Not here where there is no support from the man responsible to help.

    Don’t send him back, you deserve better.

  17. Cantwejustgetalong

    @ms Runy McPherson,
    You claim that you are all about helping everyone yet your comment ends with a call for all “Blacks.” What about the rest of the community? Asians, Caucasians, Europeans? As far as Latino organizations go, they are not exclusive. Why don’t you go to a meeting and find out what they’re purpose is? Maybe they are there to educate. Why are you so paranoid?

  18. concerned student

    Wow Mike, I’m glad you were able to get that off your chest, now that you have what did it change nothing!
    The same result you get when you bash someone.
    Like I said each one teach one, this isn’t racial, we can all learn a thing or two from each other.
    Ms. Mcpherson, you are so right NEON, served everyone, and all the community wants is to remain divirsified.

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