Norwalk DTC members: Lawyer desirable for top spot

Board of Estimate and Taxation member and Democratic Town Committee Chairman Edwin Camacho.

NORWALK, Conn. – It appears that longtime Democratic Town Committee mover and shaker Brenda Penn-Williams lost out on her bid to be DTC chairwoman because she does not have a law degree. At least that is the reason two DTC members say they chose Attorney Edwin Camacho over the vice chairwoman who, by all accounts, picked up the pieces over the past year after DTC Chairwoman Amanda Brown suffered a black eye in the court of public opinion.

Camacho became DTC chairman last week by one vote on the third ballot. Camacho and Penn-Williams were tied 17-17 on the previous two ballots; when he won, all the African-Americans walked out, sources agree.

Steve Serassis is credited with casting the deciding vote, as it had been tied before he arrived late at the DTC meeting. He arrived in time for the second vote but said he needed time to think about it.

“Voting for Mr. Camacho was a decision I made once I removed from my mind personal relationships, as I am friends with both candidates, and both were outstanding choices,” Serassis wrote in a Facebook message. “I chose Mr. Camacho because he has proven to be a level headed, community based, intelligent person with a law degree. Having an attorney as chair would be beneficial, as I’ve seen legal issues pop up to the DTC over the years and answers weren’t always forthcoming without research. I feel that an experienced Norwalk-based attorney would serve as an advantage in this regard, as well as providing a different analytical perspective, and being liability minded (these are very important points for me).

“Ms. Williams is a wonderful person and leader, which is proven with her NAACP position (second vice president). However pulling double chair duty, in my opinion, would’ve been difficult for anyone with a fulltime job. Dual duties can also have a higher chance of creating controversy. The NDTC can’t afford to take the smallest chance of being in this position. In conclusion, my decision was solely a professional one based on my aforementioned reasons.”

Camacho is a Board of Estimate and Taxation (BET) member. He said in his speech that he would need help as he is a busy man, sources agree.

Serassis said he doesn’t think being on the BET is a conflict.

“All the issues facing the BET are responsibilities that must be directly and continuously monitored, as well as analyzed by the respective town committee chairs,” he wrote. “The many duties and responsibilities of being NAACP chair vary greatly in many instances with city business and politically as well.”

Kate Tepper said it was a difficult vote.

“I admire Brenda and know that she has done much good work in the community,” Tepper said in an email. “I finally voted for Camacho because he is a lawyer and I believe his legal background will be advantageous in dealings with the Common Council and committee chairs in addition to the rules and regulations of the NDTC and the state Democratic Party.  In addition, Camacho has put his legal background to work — often pro bono — to help minority citizens who are unable to afford lawyer’s fees.  For me that means something.”

Tepper said she planned to talk to Camacho with the idea of getting “on with the business of being Democrats.”

“Since a large percentage of the people who voted for Brenda Penn-Williams walked out with her after the vote, I rather fear that there will be some dissension,” she wrote. “I hope that, with a little time, this can be overcome.  The election of officers was somewhat difficult, since many of the people who could have been nominated were no longer at the meeting.”


19 responses to “Norwalk DTC members: Lawyer desirable for top spot”

  1. Wow, all the blacks walked out because a latino was elected? Talk about discrimination (but wait, someone will “justify” their position on solidarity),

  2. EveT

    I hope Mr. Camacho is getting together to talk things over with Dwayne Omar King, who was elected Vice Chair. King was not at the meeting and I don’t think very many people know him. They were the only two officers to get elected at the meeting, thanks to the substantial number of members who walked out.

  3. Chris Bazan

    Time for the DTC to come together and rally around our new leaders. It is a shame that there was a walkout just because we didn’t elect a specific group’s preferred person. There is now a Latino as the DTC chairman and an African-American as Vice Chair, but you don’t see the DTC white members walking out because they don’t have representation. Time to come together for the benefit of all of Norwalk and the DTC.

  4. Ms. Ruby Mcpherson

    This was not a racist walk out. Because you still had Black american at the meeting. And it was not because a Latinos won the vote. Perhaps it was that Mrs. Penn has the experience and just because you are a lawyer and over work as he stated why because Warren Pena is pushing. We all are trying to work together and I believe Mr. Burgess was the one who put him up for DTC, so stop trying to make it seem like that’s why some Black American left the meeting, they also had other meeting to attend.
    Thank You.

  5. One black at the meeting but the rest had another meeting? Wow, talk about justification, McPherson.
    Since Penn lost and Camacho won, will the city of Norwalk see the DTC come together or will the blacks still have other meetings to attend to when it comes to Camacho leading the group?

  6. ScopeonNorwalk

    17 other NDTC members voted for him but only two were willing to step up and serve with him? If he had 17 true supporters who weren’t just trying to get back at Penn, then there would be no vacancies in any of the positions.

  7. ScopeonNorwalk

    On top of that the Vice Chair and the Corresponding Secretary are both black…so who is really dropping the ball and what is really being said here. Are the Democrats saying the black woman wasn’t good enough for the top positions but are obligated to take all of the support positions? ?? Democrats really need to take a look at the message they’re sending.

  8. ScopeonNorwalk

    Also this article is misleading because it totally neglects to mention that African Americans currently hold the only two other positions that were selected that night. Where was Rowayton?

  9. ScopeonNorwalk

    Where was Warren Pena, Vinny Mangiacopra, Nora King, Mike Barbis, Steve Serasis, Diane L, and so on and so on. They could’ve all stepped up to the plate and took a position.

  10. Lisa Thomson

    Scope on Norwalk: Your kidding right? John Igneri was just taken down by the African American caucus of Dems on the Common Council and replaced by Travis. Barbis sits as a member of the BOE and 6TD Commissioner and Nora King is on the PTC and sits at the state level on Dem party stuff. If anybody in Rowayton had stepped up, they’d be accused of trying to take over the place. One just can’t seem to win these days.

    Warren is leading the charge for the Latino Community, helping to run SNCC and Diane is involved in just about everything environmental and one sees how they both get attacked for what they do. I can’t speak for Vinny or Steve. But C’mon, the Dems have got to sort out their differences or nobody with a right mind will vote.

    Both Ed and Brenda should be thanked for their willingness to put themselves out there. But it is interesting to observe the local Dem infighting mirror the Republican infighting taking place on the national stage. Reasonableness and working together seems to be out of fashion in the major political parties. Maybe it’s the reason why it’s so hard to find candidates, committee heads or voters. Probably the reason why more folks are also becoming unaffiliated. Come to think of it, It isn’t helping the economy much either.

  11. spanner

    DTC has made back stabbing a sport.If its not a new isues its an old one coming back to bite them like the last election.Stick around its probably going to get better.Now that South Norwalk has some new faces at city hall they are forgetting those they left behind.

  12. Bill

    The racism against Latinos has to stop. You cant get upset because your race did not win. We are all humans and have to share power.

  13. Oldtimer

    Racism against Latinos ? Latinos speak another language, and come from a number of countries, that does not make them another race. As long as we concentrate on our differences instead of our common interests, and quibble over who belongs to what race, we will never get united. Race was a useful term when white Europeans were justifying treating other people as inferior creatures, suitable for ownership. It no longer has much use, except, again as a term to signify inferiority of some kind. If the Democrats in Norwalk have any hope of accomplishment as a political force, the color of a voter’s skin or the language he or she is most fluent in, should stop being a consideration. Smart politicians work to serve people who vote for them, and even some who didn’t, regardless of any other characteristics. As long as certain politicians identify and cater to small groups within the party, their power will be limited to those groups and elections will be lost to other parties. Harry Rilling beat an incumbent by appealing to all the democratic voters, not just a single group within the party.

  14. spanner

    So far who we have had in office and working on Norwalks problems and solutions havn’t stopped the crime at South Norwalk or the train station.More trouble tonight MTA pollice are now here all the time up to and beyond 2 am.So if anyone can make some progress and create that qulaity of life our dear mayor Moccia took away from us more power to those who are given the wand.

    Look around its not about race its about us and our quality of life and the need to ensure this summer isn’t like the last decade.

    I feel sorry for Ed,most of the trouble we are having in south Norwalk is close to home for me and my family,I’m glad he is my Neighbor. Maybe now something will get done.I’m told he knows Mayor Rilling.

    The more I hear about Ed the better I feel honestly we may have someone working for all of us.

    Steve Serassis is someone that also has given to the city and knows its ills I can’t think of anyone else who I trust more to make a call like he did.

    I’m sure if you look around hard enough most of the members if not all are color blind,Its egos and hidden agendas that still exist among those who simply don’t know whats going on outside their door or don’t listen to those asking for help.

  15. tired of negativity

    Bull, Ed Camacho stated during his speech he lacked the experience penn- Williams had, and also stated he needed help. People were disappointed by the people who approached Steve and told him to vote for Camacho , this wasn’t a race thing it was a set up!
    @ everyone, please show up to some of the meetings around town, volunteer to sit on some of these committee’s, I plan to start attending meetings so that I can play a part in what happens!

  16. Piberman

    How sad Norwalk Democrats never miss an opportunity to fight amongst themselves. Even when they have the powerful advantage of a capable new Mayor seeking to leave the “old style” politics behind. How sad

  17. Steve Serasis

    Scope on Norwalk: I was late for the elections for the same reason you claim “I didn’t step up”…taking care of my Dad as a sole caretaker. I am now, this week, receiving home hospice care as he has very little time to live. I find your remarks callous, insensitive, and downright ignorant. Especially in light of the fact I involve my self with community initiatives continuously even with my personal responsibilities. And even more so since MR. Burgess personally was one of the people who talked me into politics in 2007, all because I was helping over 2,000 under served minority children & young adults for the last decade in Norwalk…unbeknown to most everyone. My good friend Doug Sutton(ex Councilman) always told me to do the necessary research before uttering a statement, for it may save you from looking like a fool. You, and your fellow critics should heed his advise before you lose all credibility in these forums. Or just maybe writing anonymously, as are many others, offers you a chance at criticizing others without having to ever step up yourself!

  18. LWitherspoon

    Were any sitting Common Council members part of the walkout?

  19. justMe

    I have been told all of Ward B walked out..That’s 3 Common Councilmen/women.

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