Norwalk Dems: Mayor pulling strings in party president battle

David Watts (D-District A) speaks at a Norwalk Common Council meeting last year.

Updated, 12 p.m.

By Nancy Guenther Chapman

NORWALK, Conn. – There may be three hats in the ring for Norwalk Common Council president race, one council member says.

David Watts (D-District A) said in an email, “Things are up in the air. Warren (Peña) has been doing the polling. It could be three names tomorrow.”

Peña said in an e-mail that he thinks Republican Mayor Richard Moccia wants Carvin Hilliard (D-District B) to be president for the second year in a row, “I don’t think the Republican caucus is too happy about that,” he said.

The Republican caucus is broken, Peña said, adding, “How the heck are you going to have a Republican Mayor that wants a Democrat as council president and you have the majority? Obviously, Moccia is intimidated by his fellow Republicans.”

Watts said that last year, with a Democratic majority, Moccia arranged to make Hilliard the president. ”The mayor was comfortable with Carvin,” Watts said. “So he asked Carvin. Carvin said yes. … Carvin came to our organizational meeting, he said, ‘Well, you know, I already have the votes on it.’ We were like, ‘We haven’t voted on it yet, what are you talking about?’”

Anna Duleep (D-At Large) went on to nominate Hilliard at the Nov. 22, 2011, council meeting. Watts said Democrats decided to go along with it. “He clearly had the eight votes lined up,” Watts said. “That was the mayor’s decision. That’s how he became council president.”

The only council member to vote no on Hilliard’s nomination was Bruce Kimmel (D-District D). “I had nothing to do with the shenanigans that led to Hilliard being president,” Kimmel said in an e-mail. “I voted against him because I knew he was not the real choice of the caucus.”

This year, Watts thought that several Republicans wanted the post – hence, the indecision represented by the election of Doug Hempstead (R-At Large) majority leader at the last meeting, but no action taken on president.

“I know it’s contested because they pushed it into December,” he said late last month. “Believe you me, they’re usually better organized.”

Peña said, “I think they are delaying the decision because Hempstead should have the position, the mayor wants Carvin, (Michael) Geake wants it because he might feel that he is entitled and then you have (Nick) Kydes and (David) McCarthy that want it or some type of leadership role.”

Duleep also believes that Moccia wants Hilliard to be president again. Her thoughts are outlined in the letter below.

Peña opposes Hilliard for the post.”One, he made a commitment to my caucus to only serve one term, we will hold him accountable there,” he said in his e-mail. “Two, I think all council members agree that he should not be the face of our council and our city. Three, he has not been a leader at all, just shakes his head up and down at the mayor and rubber stamps Moccia’s agenda.”

Moccia commented last year that council president is a key position, adding that Hilliard would meet businesses thinking of coming to Norwalk.

Watts agreed it’s a key post. “With council president comes a lot of responsibility,” he said. “If something should happen to the mayor, that person becomes mayor,” Watts said. “That person can go inside the mayor’s office, put his feet up, use the computer and there’s nothing anyone can do about it. They might view that as a position that’s worthy of fighting for.”


10 responses to “Norwalk Dems: Mayor pulling strings in party president battle”

  1. LWitherspoon

    It’s not very newsworthy but it’s always entertaining to read Pena and Watts speculating on what’s going on in the other party. Unfortunately it’s hard to believe a word they say, since their agenda consists mainly of sucking up to unions, bloviating, and playing petty partisan politics. No wonder Democrats Hilliard, Kimmel, and Geake don’t caucus with them.

    1. Tim T

      Actually what is entertaining is how the old boys club of Norwalk is trying desperately to hold onto the power that has destroyed Norwalk..
      What we have in Pena and Watts are 2 young guys that see the need for change in Norwalk and are forcing the hand of the failures of the old boys club..All I can say is its about time and great job to both Pena and Watts as the residence who truly care about Norwalk support you both.

      1. Mike Mushak

        I swear lwitherspoon is sounding more and more like a certain Councilmember, even though he said last week he did not hold any elected or appointed position. Hmmmmm…..

  2. Oldtimer

    And there is no more authoritative expert than lwitherspoon on how true democrats should conduct themselves ? It is comforting to know we have the benefit of such expertise. Without that expertise, we would never recognise Hilliard, Kimmel & Geake as the models we should all try to emulate, so the great OZ could always have his way, with no discussion of other points of view..

    1. LWitherspoon

      When did I ever say how Democrats should behave? Frankly I don’t care what party you’re in, what I care about is what you’re going to accomplish for the City of Norwalk. That’s where you and I differ, as you have openly stated here that you want Democrats to run the City.

      Rather than reading about what the Democrats think is happening inside the Republican caucus, I’d rather hear what the Democrats would do for all of Norwalk – as opposed to a few narrow interest groups – if elected. I’m not interested in any plan which promises all things to all people with no cost to the taxpayer.

      1. Tim T

        LWitherspoon has the never to post this when all he does is support the failed administration of Moccia and anyone that supports the failure


  3. Oldtimer

    Reading the story about the Republican caucus selecting Hempstead for council president, it sounds like moccia does not have as much control there as he had. Does that suggest he may not have enough support to run for another term ?

    1. LWitherspoon

      It’s always amusing to see you speculating on what the Republicans will or won’t do. Funny how you’re more interested than anybody regarding what’s going on there. I’m sure your interest is purely that of a concerned citizen, even though you’ve made it quite clear by your comments that you have no use for anyone who isn’t a Democrat.

      It’s also amusing that while Watts, Pena, you, and others in your party make every attempt to encourage discord in the majority coalition, your own little caucus is in shambles. Kind of unsportsmanlike to sit there openly wishing for discord, you should at least pretend that you wish everyone well.

      1. Oldtimer

        Say what ? Some comments don’t qualify for response.
        Merry Christmas

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