NORWALK, Conn. — Norwalk Democrats completed their fall slate this week, endorsing Chris Perone, Travis Simms and Stuart Wells for reelection.
That confirms a no surprises lineup, laden with incumbents:
- Jim Himes for U.S. Representative
- Bob Duff for State Senate
- Chris Perone for District 137 State Representative
- Travis Simms for District 140 State Representative
- Lucy Dathan for 142 District State Representative
- Stephanie Thomas for 143 District State Representative
- Stuart Wells for Democratic Registrar
“We have really great candidates for our own delegation,” Duff said. “We have good State Senate candidates around Connecticut and really working to elect more Democrats and feel very good about the fact that Joe Biden will be at the top of the ticket. And it will be a real contrast to our current President, who, let’s say, is not handling this crisis in the best the best of ways.”
“I’m just really excited to, after tonight, we’ll have our full slate and that we’ll go on from there,” Democratic Town Committee Chairwoman Eloisa Melendez said.
Fourth Congressional District
Himes, former Goldman Sachs Vice President, is seeking a twelfth two-year term in Congress. The Greenwich Democrat appears likely to face Jonathan Riddle of Norwalk as his Republican challenger. Riddle won the Republican endorsement but may face a primary challenge.
Himes won the Democratic endorsement at the 2020 Democratic 4th Congressional District Convention held May 11, unanimously via a vote of acclamation, according to a press release.
“There is very little to celebrate,” Himes said in a Facebook message, lamenting the many American deaths due to COVID-19.
“This was a tragedy that did not need to be at all of the proportion that it was. And there’s really nothing good to say about it. But there are some lessons. There are some lessons of leadership. There are lessons of investment. There are lessons of preparation and there are some contrasts that have been brought into harsh focus by where we find ourselves today,” Himes said.
“If you think about it, this country, which we know to be the greatest country in the world, was unprepared because it has a President who cannot see beyond his own self-interest and his own ego and his own ratings,” Himes said. “We were not prepared to test and treat Americans all over this country when the coronavirus arrived with ample warning.”
Democrats need to dedicate themselves to change this November and counter “what is in the White House right now,” he said.
“History is on our side because you can twist Americans into some cult-like devotion for a little while by praying to their fears, by trying to convince them that their problems are somebody else’s fault. … that never lasts very long in this country. And that’s one of the reasons why we are the greatest country in the world,” Himes said. “So I could not be more proud to accept the nomination today.”
Perone is running for a ninth two-year term, having begun his service in 2005. He is facing former City Clerk Ellen Wink as his Republican opponent. Perone serves on the:
- Energy and Technology Committee
- Finance, Revenue and Bonding Committee
- Appropriations Committee
- Transportation Committee
Perone is a “seasoned skilled incumbent” who has been “deeply involved in some very key and strategic initiatives at the state level” that “have impacted us here greatly in the Norwalk area, and all throughout Connecticut,” Common Council member Greg Burnett (D-At Large) said, nominating Perone.
“He has focused on our infrastructure and transportation initiatives,” Burnett said. “He has also been actively involved in supporting several of our current COVID operations, such as fielding several calls related to the unemployment situation, working with manufacturers to bring PPEs across the state and also into the Norwalk area. He’s been involved in working with small businesses to increase their capacity and keep their doors open as much as possible, going forward.”
Perone has been involved in supporting the Norwalk P-Tech Academy and “will be very instrumental in terms of bringing the focus to bring Connecticut back to a stable and secure economic standard and status,” Burnett said.
Board of Education member Barbara Meyer-Mitchell seconded the nomination, in a statement read by her husband.
“Chris has been a supporter of education in Norwalk,” she said. “He had a big hand in bringing P-Tech to Norwalk. He supported the change in ECS formula in 2017 is bringing $10 million of additional education funding over this decade, and hopefully he will help the effort to fund our new Norwalk High School. Chris will use his good relationships in Hartford and help Norwalk navigate the public safety and economic challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. His commitment to addressing our transportation infrastructure challenges has been so important in moving the state forward.”
Perone thanked everyone and said, “I think… the COVID epidemic has really changed the landscape in Connecticut in terms of really what our focus needs to be, not only in economic development, but really how the social safety net is deployed, how we are funding and where we are prioritizing our dollars. I think that the epidemic has revealed, really, the serious inadequacies of how we are able to supply our hospitals with PPE.”
“Somebody had mentioned the Department of Labor, I’ve made a comment that my house in some ways seems to be a satellite office of the DoL,” Perone said. “A lot of folks are calling me directly or reaching out to me through Facebook, and so just my office is working on 20 or 30 cases for unemployment benefits for people. So I think that obviously going forward, we want to make sure that our Department of Labor is fully up to scratch in terms of their operating platforms, their system platforms. It’s, again, it’s one of these areas that that was revealed to be coming up short, and its capacity to help people in, in this kind of crisis.”
Simms, a former Council member and champion boxer, is seeking a second two-year term.
“Travis has done a excellent job of representing us,” Sonia Oliver said. “…I personally gave someone his name to reach out to regarding an issue with their unemployment… he got back to them the very next day … and that young man got his money. So he’s out there he’s working hard was constituencies, doing what he has to do for us and keeps us up to date and informed.”
“When a candidate represents a community that may be less seen and often less heard, then you must also be fitted for the challenges that will exist from coming or needing to represent marginalized or often overlooked community,” Ron Banks said, expressing support for Simms as a “heavy lifter for those of the 140th district.”
Simms has “tried to be a voice for the voiceless and hear people out regardless of whatever their affiliation is,” Darius Williams said.
“I am truly humble about this experience,” Simms said. “And again, it’s great to hear the feedback from my peers and colleagues here locally, knowing that I’m putting forth the work ethic and the character that I’m displaying in Hartford and on the local level to make sure that we have great representation in Hartford.”
“Stuart Wells is a forward thinker,” Banks said. “He plans and acts decisively, rather than reacting to each situation or eventuality. … His own inner commitment to the ideals of public surface service compels him to show up when he does not have to and to stay long after everyone else has gone down.”
Wells, a veteran registrar, has his office door “always open to every citizen, regardless of your views or your opinions. And regardless of how you may differ, and the phase that you have to present before him in his official role, Stuart Wells serves all citizens of Norwalk well,” Banks said.
“Stuart Wells is, as far as I could tell, the best Registrar of Voters in the entire state of Connecticut. He knows his stuff,” DTC Chairman Ed Camacho said.
“Stuart has an excellent reputation around the state with the Secretary of State’s office and with other Registrars of Voters,” Duff said. “I really do look to Stuart for a lot of leadership.”
Wells said he’d sent out a “rather lengthy explanation of all the changes this year” due to OVID-19.
“We keep changing the rules as we go, and that’s making life lots of fun,” Wells said. “I don’t know how many more shoes the Governor and the Secretary of State have to drop in terms of changes, but I suspect the closet is not empty yet. So I will be keeping you all informed, and thank you for your confidence in me.”