Norwalk Dems force District E primary, slated for March 1

The sweetest of toddlers accompanies his mother to the voting booth at Fox Run Elementary School in 2015. Fox Run will be one of three polling places in Tuesday’s primary.

NORWALK, Conn. — District E Democrats have succeeded in forcing a primary to decide who will get 11 Democratic Town Committee seats.

This follows the surprise candidacy of 11 Rowayton fans of the late Mike Barbis, eight of whom won the Jan. 10 caucus for the DTC and some of whom have not been Democrats for long. The DTC had presented a slate of 11 candidates, most of them incumbents, who said they didn’t know of the new group until the weekend before the Monday vote.

Turnout for the caucus was unprecedented, in the words of “Democrats for a Balanced District E,” who had been organized as DTC candidates by the DTC.

More than 400 ballots were cast and the top winner got 225 votes. The eight challengers submitted about 280 petitions to force a primary, although only 238 were needed, according to Democratic Registrar Stuart Wells.

Wells said the ballot will feature the 11 caucus winners at the top and the eight challengers at the bottom, thusly:

  • Aimee Malloy Ableman
  • Anne Allen
  • Ed Camacho
  • Todd R. Deklyn
  • Sara J. Ingrassia
  • Camille Josephine Legnani
  • Benita A. (Watford) Raleigh
  • Jody A. Sattler
  • Alyson W. Smith
  • Sarah S. Wayland
  • Stuart W. Wells III
  • Paul B. Barringer II
  • Tina L. Duryea
  • Priscilla Feral
  • Mary Ellen Flaherty-Ludwig
  • Colin A. Hosten​
  • Esther Murillo​
  • Lucia C. Rilling​
  • Kevin M. Tepas​

It will be held from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. March 1 at these polling places:

  • Brookside Elementary School, 382 Highland Ave. (District E1)
  • Rowayton Elementary School, 1 Roton Ave. (District E2)
  • Fox Run Elementary School, 228 Fillow St. (District E3)


Wells said he doesn’t have a cost estimate yet for the primary.

The eight challengers, who petitioned together, cited “concerns about the circumstances leading up to and during the caucus as their motive to ensure that Democrats in District E get the full and fair election they deserve to elect their DTC members for the 2022-2024 term,” in the “Democrats for a Balanced District E” news release.

“The slate of eleven includes eight challengers consisting of Democrats who live in all precincts of District E,” the news release said. “The eight will appear on Row B of the primary ballot, and along with three endorsed Democrats who will appear on Row A, represent a balanced slate for District E, which comprises many neighborhoods, including Brookside, Harbor View, Rowayton, Village Creek, and West Norwalk to complete the slate of eleven.”

The alternative slate was said to be organized by Sattler, who ran for the BoE last fall on the Independents for Norwalk-line although she reportedly approached the DTC first. It developed after the DTC’s District E Committee recommended Flaherty-Ludwig for the Barbis seat over Sattler, during a Dec. 1 meeting. Sattler supporters, new to the process, attended the meeting and said that their voices weren’t heard. Barbis would have wanted Sattler, they said.

This gets confusing, but the DTC has district subcommittees. Anyone can attend their district’s Committee meeting and after attending three times, can vote. The DTC itself is separate from the subcommittee. Sattler supporters were in their first meeting and said the people who earned the right to vote by attending Democratic meetings voted against the will of the district.

Ten of Sattler’s alternative slate members live in Rowayton. The exception is Deklyn, a Brookside resident who serves as Rowayton Fire Department Chief.

Allen and Wayland were registered as unaffiliated voters until Dec. 2, the day after the contentious District E Committee meeting, when they became Democrats. Sattler was unaffiliated until June 2019, when she became a Democrat. Three members of Sattler’s slate have previously been registered Republican.

The eight alternative slate members who won the caucus released this statement:

“We believe that the voters spoke on January 10th and the endorsed slate, which has representatives from multiple areas of District E, represents a balanced slate. While the other candidates would like to paint us as all being the same, we are actually a group of eight unique individuals who bring different skills, strengths, and experiences to the committee. What we all do share is our love of Norwalk, our years of volunteer experience in this city, and a desire to improve the lives of all Norwalk residents. One of our main goals is to communicate to other District E Democrats how to get involved and encourage them to have a voice in the decisions that affect our community.

“Many of us are parents of children in Norwalk Public Schools, which we have not been allowed to enter during school hours for almost 2 years – not even for in-person parent-teacher conferences. The idea that Brookside, Rowayton and Fox Run elementary schools can be open for a re-election really shows how out of touch many of these representatives are and that they are undeterred by the burden this will place on school administrators, staff and students.

“Unlike some of those who were elected previously and lost on January 10, we are committed to attending both NDTC (Norwalk Democratic Town Committee) meetings and District E Democratic Committee meetings on a regular basis. We are committed to being present, open-minded, and inclusive of all in District E. We are looking forward to working with all other members of the NDTC.”

The “Democrats for a Balanced District E” slate “consists of many familiar names and experienced campaigners with a history of supporting the Democratic Party, as well as dedicated activists and newer members who will bring fresh energy to the party,” the group’s news release said.

“We bring a wide range of qualities to the table,” former DTC Chairman Ed Camacho is quoted as saying. “We all prioritize representing the entire district, not just one neighborhood.”
Camacho was one of the caucus winners.

The news release said, “The DTC website notes that with the upcoming 2022 Midterms and CT State elections, local political engagement is more critically important than ever to help elect Democrats in Norwalk, Connecticut, and in our country.”

The Sattler supporters have spoken only of the BoE seat open in 2023 and of education issues.

Updated, 3:22 p.m.: Headline corrected.


29 responses to “Norwalk Dems force District E primary, slated for March 1”

  1. JB

    Nancy – the headline says the vote is Tuesday which is February 1st but then in the article is says March 1st (also a Tuesday). Please clarify. Thanks.

  2. Babar Sheikh

    I miss the days when people would lose gracefully. When is Giuliani showing up?

  3. Eric Hansen

    Is it Tuesday, as the headline states, or March 1, as the article states?

  4. Beth Wehrle

    Is the primary this Tuesday, or March 1st?

  5. DrewT

    How much is this unnecessary primary costing the City?! And the City should NOT Ave paying one dime for this! The DTC air State DTC should be wasting this money not the City!

  6. MC

    Is this primary Tuesday Feb. 1st as implied in Headline or Tuesday March 1st as stated in the article?

  7. Bobby Lamb

    So basically a group of rich white women threw a fit because they didn’t get their way. They put together a group of republicans and Unaffiliated friends and are attempting to take over a political party – just to get their friend into office? They are anti teachers union, anti mask, elitists. Just read their organizers Facebook page. I wish the “balanced slate” luck.

  8. Charles Presbury

    Could you please clarify the date of the vote? The title implies it is set for Tuesday, February 1 but in the article says polling is slated for March 1,2022

    1. The primary is March 1. Apologies.

  9. Piberman

    We ought encourage primaries bringing in new talent to our City governance. Depending on the Town Committees hasn’t often served our best interests. Lets encourage the candidates to express their views on Nancy’s and help inform those interested in City governance. Historically we’ve had our best governance when citizens could use the primaries to seek a place on the ballot. Not when the Town Committees make their selections. Our Party ought be vigorously open to all.

  10. John O’Neill

    @ Bobby Lamb — I’ve met some of those “rich white women”. In my opinion your broad-rush is really unfair. They are not elitist, at least not the ones I’ve met. Maybe you know more about their bank accounts than I do?…Since when is trying to get your voice heard taking over a political party? I commend this group for trying to gain representation they obviously feel they don’t have.. (Who knows, maybe they’ll find a principal for McMahon? We only have two high schools but current BOE can’t seem to fill 2 spots??) ..
    I would argue the current leadership is the group trying to control things. BUT, isn’t that what politics is all about. I don’t fault them, but I certainly don’t like it. To think the old guard isn’t into a power grab but claim this “new” group is power hungry leaves me with the impression you may have a horse in the race.
    Maybe this new group just represents many Norwalkers who are sick and tired of not having their voices heard. That’s a good thing. There seems to be too many of us who are too busy raising our families, working our asses off and quietly paying our taxes and then being abused by current power base in this city. IT’s time for a change and maybe it starts in District E.
    “Pugiles Faciunt Sua Fortuna”!!

  11. Patrick Cooper

    Strange times indeed for Norwalk. One party rule always ends when the party in power begins to eat itself. I’ve said for years now, if Norwalk is determined to elect only democrats, we simply need better democrats.

    That said – calling something a “lie” can be viewed as hostile and aggressive. So let’s just call these inaccurate statements.

    Not “real” democrats. The GOP calls them Rino’s – so why can’t there be Dino’s? Flintstones have a copyright?

    They are “Insurgents” – which by definition is the opposite of “loyalists”. The loyalty in this case isn’t to a party platform or principle – it’s to the defacto emperor, Harry. This isn’t about the Norwalk “DTC”, this is really all about the “HTC”. Independent thought isn’t just frowned upon – it’s simply not tolerated. There are a number of high profile D’s who have been shown the door in the last few years simply because they dared to question the boss.

    They say the ”Democratic” party is all about inclusion, and open doors for everyone, regardless of sex, age, race, religion, or orientation. That quality is on display here – where these taxpayer residents who want to volunteer their time for the good of the city are told – you are NOT welcome. Riiiiight.

    And then you get the dirty-boy slurs and slander. @Bobby Lamb – we just can’t have “rich white women” on the HTC – lead by a 3-pension earning, part-time working, multiple home owning, BMW X5 driving, ugly boat owning – old white man. Apparently – the preference is for poor, green men who will know their place – sit and be quiet. Those zipper lipped green meanies are pro-secrecy, pro-propaganda spouting, pro-insider dealing, good old boys. They leave 30% tips at the Station House. They get ambulance chasing lawyers slip & fall cases without asking for the usual 5% viggorish. No Bobby the Sheep prefers extremists over elitists every single day.

    You knew this primary was going to happen – simply because the initial results were utterly intolerable to the emperor. His wife and partner in photo-ops came in 2nd to dead last. Text’s apparently didn’t rally the troops enough – but you can be sure calls will be made through-out February. I truly hope the new blood can get a clean, clear message out to the Dis-E D-Party faithful, because – I’m quite certain there are many, many dissatisfied moderates who would like to bring back a real DTC – out and away from the stranglehold of the current HTC.

  12. Admiral

    Wait…..so there will be voting WHILE kids are in school that day? At a time when everybody is concerned about school safety and the spread of Covid? And at a time when parents aren’t allowed in their child’s school buildings, but strangers are?
    And what happens to these kids who have gym that day or anything else school-related going on in the gymnasium?
    These people forcing the primary and the DTC aren’t taking these important factors into account.
    Just accept losing and move on.
    The same people are blasting national politicians for refusing to “accept the results”…..but as soon as it doesn’t go their way, they shout “UNFAIR! Let’s primary!”

  13. $$$$

    “Wells said he doesn’t have a cost estimate yet for the primary.”

    Awesome. Let’s spend more tax dollars because a group of people are upset they lost. Ironically, sounds like something Trump would do! Which group is acting like true democrats this election? The ones who can’t accept they lost an election??

  14. Lisa Brinton

    As the Nor’easter approaches, reading an insightful, funny, sad & timely book entitled, “CORRUPTIBLE: Who Gets Power and How It Changes Us,” by Brian Klaas. Special interest money, lies, loyalty oaths bullying & lack of term limits helps them consolidate POWER, be it the president of a condo board, PTA, corporate CEO, planning commissioner, state senator or even mayor. Social science & case studies in the book explore whether power corrupts or if corruptible people are drawn to power in the first place and the lengths they go will go to to hang onto it. Hmmmm…

  15. Ridiculous

    I think the real news is how Lucia Rilling was nominated for a position as treasurer of District E last night despite only going to 2 meetings in the past 12 months AND not even being at the meeting to accept the nomination until the end when people were questioning her nomination. If this isn’t evidence that the whole “Balanced Slate” isn’t a sham to just promote people who will blindly support our mayor, I don’t know what is….

  16. Frank Izzo

    Today’s statement made by a member of the Sattler Slate is outrageous, and very much follows a bad trend in this country: to disenfranchise voters at every level.

    As a senior, I was told I would be unable to get a safe curbside vote for DTC during a time when Norwalk’s Covid infection numbers were exploding. So we reluctantly did not vote.

    I bet I’ve been a registered Democrat longer than some of the winners of the January 10th election have been alive.

    Everybody’s suddenly waking up to the fact that you’ve got to move upstream in the political process to be heard.
    Independents are hot to become instant Dems and be on the DTC. Wonder why? From what ive seen its Not because they believe in the Democratic platform,

    Welcome to the Democratic party, newbees! But please, don’t tell me it’s OK I was unable to vote Jan 10th in MY CAUCUS, because you think Old Democrats don’t matter.

    Now that us old Democrats will be able to vote SAFELY in the upcoming primary,on Mach 1, you may learn something the hard way: Old Democrats do not fade away. They fight for what’s right. And they win.

    Frank Izzo

  17. Piberman

    We’d do better as a City encouraging candidates seeking public office who are anxious to express their views in the public forum such as Nancy’s about how they could contribute to the betterment of our City. Once upon a time just about everyone seeking public office in Norwalk was anxious to make public statements on why they’re running and what they hope to accomplish. How do we encourage candidates to express their ideas and views on how to improve City governance ? Isn’t that why we support and encourage our local newspaper ? To encourage communication of views by those interested in public service ?

  18. Seriously?

    I wanted to say a lot, but Patrick Cooper said it for me. Thanks.

    Here’s an idea: If the DTC people who are forcing a primary lose that primary, they should pay all costs.

  19. Ridiculous

    Frank Izzo-I don’t think you realize how hypocritical you are being. The decision was made to have the caucus. If your slate had won, you would not have been protesting like you are now nor would you insist on a primary so you could vote. You wouldn’t have said anything. Now that your slate didn’t win, you want to inconvenience everyone at the cost of the city.

    And what is wrong with new blood in the democratic party? I understand you would prefer your group of retired members running everything but Norwalk is a city full of young families too. Have you spoken to any of the new winners? To assume you hold more democratic values than them when you don’t know them is truly ridiculous. Sounds like you are the one being ageist…

  20. Frank Izzo

    Seriously? They didn’t reschedule or provide an absentee mechanism for Caucus ballots during rampant Covid?? Does that make sense? Be honest. Whoever allowed that caucus to happen showed disregard for older and/or compromised registeredDemocrats. That seems to be a sentiment shared by those of you who don’t believe there should primary. Basic civics, people. Civics and civility. It’s OK to go for a power grab – that’s what makes America so great. But Jeepers, don’t let them see you drool! (And John O, never get into a Latin fight with someone who went to catholic school for 16 years! 😇 Fortuna favet senex!

  21. Michael McGuire

    Seems like Orwell’s Animal Farm, no? Also seems to support the statement “Dems will vote for anything with a D on it” – so much for a thoughtful electorate.

    Could be the newly minted Dems are a product of people trying to re-right a sinking ship after living through the fiasco of one party rule. But true to form the DTC insider immediate response is to vilify them. I was hoping they would show some quality of character and walk back the vilification. But no, instead we get a ‘ hell with the COVID school rules, get that primary teed up ASAP’. I guess that does show a certain character.

    Question – will the DTC host debates? Or just stick to the status quo.

    Both Dems and Republicans need new blood at all levels. After all they were the ones that got us into this messed up place to begin with.

  22. Seriously?

    Frank Izzo,

    The people who allowed that caucus to happen and who showed disregard for older and/or compromised registered Democrats are the leadership of the DTC. I don’t understand how it’s fair that the taxpayers of the City of Norwalk are left to pay the bill for the primary that these same at-fault people now want.

  23. John O’Neill

    @ Frank — Tremendous, I agree!!

  24. Frank Izzo

    Ridiculous – Please note my responses to your post:
    YOU SAY:
    If your slate had won, you would not have been protesting like you are now nor would you insist on a primary so you could vote. You wouldn’t have said anything. Now that your slate didn’t win, you want to inconvenience everyone at the cost of the city.
    I SAY:
    I most certainly would have complained, and did. I was livid on that day and continue to be ticked off about the blatant disregard for having a Covid plan for seniors and the compromised. Furthermore, you have absolutely no idea who I was planning to vote for.
    YOU SAY:
    And what is wrong with new blood in the democratic party? I understand you would prefer your group of retired members running everything but Norwalk is a city full of young families too.
    I SAY:
    My gripe is not with new blood or old blood,. It’s with the bloody people who failed to allow me to vote SAFELY.
    YOU SAY:
    Have you spoken to any of the new winners?
    I SAY:
    No. IMHO there were no winners on Jan 10. The Caucus should have been postponed, or made it safe for the compromised.
    YOU SAY:
    To assume you hold more democratic values than them when you don’t know them is truly ridiculous.
    I SAY:
    I don’t assume ANYTHING about them or anyone else. I operate on facts. This is a fact: I was unable to be counted in the Caucus because they did not plan for alternate means of voting when Covid was raging.
    YOU SAY:
    Sounds like you are the one being ageist…
    I SAY:
    I don’t know how you can infer such a mean-spirited assessment. You don’t know me or anything about me.

  25. Highland Avenue Neighbor

    Said state of affairs that the leaders of the ruling party of Norwalk and district E (Rilling, Linvingstone, and Shannahan) couldn’t accept the original election results and congratulate the victors and move forward. Poor sportsmanship and leadership at it’s finest.

    @Frank – as the 2021 national election and recent DTC caucus demonstrated, there was no adverse health problems voting in person while either wearing or without wearing a mask in this country. The pandemic was just a false narrative and scare tactic to get folks like yourself worked up over nothing.

  26. Oversight

    @ Frank Izzo – Ahhh, the loyalty and purity pledge. So much for the wide tent of the Democratic Party. @ Michael McGuire is spot on!

  27. Peter Torrano

    Mr. Izzo

    Are you saying that the Democrats in charge are guilty of voter suppression?

  28. Frank Izzo

    @Highland Ave Neighbor – speaking of masks … . i may be afraid of covid but you are afraid to reveal your name – that tells me exactly what your opinion is worth

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