Norwalk Dems again shuffle deck

Norwalk Councilman Travis Simms (D-District B) makes a surprise announcement Tuesday.

NORWALK, Conn. – There has been another change in Norwalk Democratic Party leadership.

Councilman Travis Simms (D-District B) announced at Tuesday’s council meeting that he had been named the new council minority leader, replacing Councilman John Igneri (D-District E). The announcement was brief. Simms said it had been unanimously decided.

“I wouldn’t say it’s unusual,” Simms said after the meeting. “I just think a lot has gone on over the last few months and we just felt that the caucus at this point – we need to kind of change some of the synergies that’s in the room and that’s in the council right now. That’s just appropriate and now I believe is a great time to change leadership and see if we can get some good things going in a bipartisan manner to move the city forward.”

“It was discussed and voted on,” Igneri said. “It will give me now more time to focus on the city and the district.”

Igneri took over the caucus leadership after winning re-election in the November election, just four months ago. On Jan. 14 Igneri voted for the reappointment of Parks and Recreation Department Director Mike Mocciae and appeared surprised when five of the seven caucus members voted against the appointment.

“John did an excellent job but a lot of the caucus has been a little uneasy about some of the decisions that have been made over the last few months,” Simms said. “We just decided that it would be in the best interests of our entire caucus to change leadership at this point so that we’re going to have fairness in our caucusing throughout the city as well. We felt it was a necessary action to take at this point. By no means are we in a rift or having any kind of infighting.”

The Democratic caucus meeting was Monday night, after the Democratic Town Committee chose Edwin Camacho as its new chairman in a 18-17 vote over former Vice Chairwoman Brenda Penn-Williams.

“That had nothing to do with that. Not at all,” Simms said. “This is something that we were discussing even a few months ago in our caucusing. At this point we just want to move in a different direction.”

The leadership of the Democratic caucus was split in the last year of the last legislative session between Warren Pena and David Watts (D-District A).

“We’re all one big happy family at the end of the day,” Watts said. “We want to make sure that everybody gets an opportunity to serve. We went six months when I had it. Warren went about six months. You give everybody an opportunity. Maybe down the road somebody else will pop up. You’ve got to spread it out sometimes.”

He was surprised to hear that Igneri only had it for four months.

“I just think that most of the people felt that we needed a reboot,” Watts said. “But John did a good job but we felt we needed a little bit more representation. There’s no hard feelings as far as I’m concerned, it was pretty cordial. We needed to just make sure that everybody is working together as close as possible. We won’t all agree but what we do agree on is we need to be respectful to one another. John was a gentleman. Travis was a gentleman. There was no conflict that I am aware of.”


18 responses to “Norwalk Dems again shuffle deck”

  1. John Hamlin

    Wouldn’t it be wise to let criminal charges against a politician be resolved before electing him to a leadership position ??

  2. Lisa. Thomson

    John, Time to walk away from the Dems. Become unaffiliated and caucus with the GOP. Harry, your chances of a second term are becoming slimmer each day that your party’s nonsense continues.

  3. anonymous

    What criminal charges are there against Simms?

    Was civility too dull?

    1. Mark Chapman


      Mr. Simms is charged with interfering with an officer and breach of peace stemming from an August, 2012, family-related incident involving his sister. His court date is Sept. 9.

  4. Norwalk Voter

    Lot’s of half truths told here. Everyone knows this was not a cordial parting. Mr. Igneri is always a gentleman, fair and worked in a bi-partisan manner for the betterment of the city.

    This caucus appears to be in real trouble, again. Somehow trying to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Lots of egos, lots of personal interests being put ahead of the city. Stay tuned folks.

  5. IgneriSupporter

    Very interesting story. The truth is John is the best man to serve as Minority Leader. He is the proper fit to work with the Majority Caucus and with the Democratic Mayor. Truth be told that this was not unanimous but a power play for the bully Simms. It seems Simms is all about power and control but I read he has no control over Ward B. He will not be able to manage the Caucus using racial tactics as he does. What we have experienced here is a power hungry man for title with no education, skills or ability to lead. Mr. Simms, we will not be intimidated or bullied by you. The community knows who you really are.

  6. Enough

    Enough. These people are all bullies. David Watts and Travis Simms do not have the leadership skills to run anything. David Watts is a disgrace to his party and no one should vote for him against Chris Perone to go to Hartford. This entire group just continues to bully others that work hard for this community. They all have self-interests and could care less about Norwalk. They are no different that Bruce Morris, Bobby Burgess and Carvin Hillard.

    Harry Rilling is going to be a one term mayor because he just doesn’t seem to be able to stand up and demonstrate leadership skills in these types of situations.

  7. bill

    Crazy that actions within the democratic caucus seem to always be racially divisive. Why are the votes for minority leader split down racial lines and the exact same scenario for DTC chairman? The African-American component of the DTC needs to learn to work together with the non African-Americans.

  8. Ms. ACA

    Lisa, you are correct. Harry will be a one term mayor if he doesn’t exercise some leadership in this situation. At the same time, in speaking with a few individuals,it is my understanding that Mayor Harry’s back room politics has alienated many of the Black constituents who helped to get him elected. Perhaps Mayor Harry needs to re-assess who his political allies are.

  9. Lisa Thomson

    Ms. ACA: Whether Harry won due to Black constituents who helped him or because more people voted against a 5th term for Dick Moccia, regardless of skin color, is open to debate. But I don’t think hijacking John Igneri’s position, four months into his term, bodes well for Democrats. The fact that it appears to have been done along racial lines is also unfortunate. As an unaffiliated voter, I contributed to, supported and voted for Black, White and Hispanic candidates, in the last election. It was the content of their character and not the color of their skin that determined my vote and support. If, going forward, race is the only thing that defines or divides the Dems, it will turn a lot of moderate and unaffiliated voters off and Harry won’t be the only loser.

  10. IgneriSupporter

    The trend happens to be the following, 12% African American, 25% Latino, 59% White the rest other. 50% of the children in our schools happen to be Latino.

    Get the picture? They don’t know how to play nice in the sandbox. Mr. Simms should be “knocked out” of his council seat by a Latino in 2015.

  11. Bill

    @Ignerisupporter, it is crazy that a constituency that is only 12% of the populations wants to control 100% of the Democratic Party of Norwalk and it’s common council. Sooner or later, warren Pena and the Latinos will take over.

  12. the donut hole

    If it weren’t so destructive to the city, this would be a comedy act. The DTC picks as its chair a BET commissioner. Can you imagine their outrage if Art Scialabba was put on the BET? The move for Simms is simply a reaction to the DTC elections to spare egos and identities. Identity politics is their game, Norwalk be damned.

  13. Joe Espo

    Do you see a pattern here? Bondi, Geake, Kimmel, Regina Krummel, Bill Krummel, Jaeger, Igneri, and more….- haven’t they all have been purged by the South Norwalk contingent? Absamalutelynot no way do we attribute this to …err… reverse discimination? No way….right?

  14. newsfreak203

    Mark Chapman, what is your point exactly? you are the editor of this site and should remain neutral (my opinion)

    BTW if I’m correct, Kimmel stop caucusing with the Dem’s because of Pena’s bully antic’s.

    1. Mark Chapman


      If you are referring to the comment regarding the charges against Mr. Simms, it is a statement of fact in response to a question from anonymous. How is the editor of a news site answering a reader question with facts not neutral?

  15. newsfreak203

    Hmmmmm, is it actually legal serve on the BET and be the chair of a party?

  16. EveT

    I think all voters deserve to know that “Mr. Simms is charged with interfering with an officer and breach of peace stemming from an August, 2012, family-related incident involving his sister. His court date is Sept. 9.” Innocent until proven guilty, but an unresolved charge is cause for concern. Is there any information on why it is taking more than 2 years after the incident for a court date?

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