Norwalk DTC plans to let more people in

There will be
There will be more people to vote for next year in the Norwalk Democratic Town Committee election; DTC Chairman Ed Camacho said the goal is to be inclusive.

NORWALK, Conn. – The Democratic Town Committee expects to increase its membership in 2016, after a vote Tuesday to expand to 11 members per district instead of the current seven.

The vote followed an exchange that got “a little heated” at the most highly attended DTC meeting in months,  according to former mayoral candidate Steve Serasis, confirming an account given by other sources.

The DTC will swell from 35 members to 55 a year from now, DTC Chairman Ed Camacho said. The vote was 16 in favor, five against and three abstaining, with Bruce Morris, Carolyn Fuller, Faye Bowman, Brenda Penn Williams and Travis Simms (through a proxy) as the dissenters.

Morris led the charge, sources say. He did not respond to attempts to contact him Thursday. Penn Williams declined to comment.

Democratic Town Committee Chairman Ed Camacho
Norwalk Democratic Town Committee Chairman Ed Camacho.

“It’s not so much that we’re increasing each district by four, but it goes to a universe of people that each of those four people know,” Camacho said. “What I think is important for the Democratic Party, since it is the majority party in the city, is to get as much involvement from as many people as possible. With the addition of four people there is a universe of people that each of those people come in contact with who might become interested in actively participating in party politics as a result.”

Those abstaining felt the process was wrong, as the item had been listed as a discussion item on the agenda, with no indication of action, he said. “They felt perhaps we should table it and take it up at the next meeting when it is on the agenda clearly as a discussion and voting item,” Camacho said.

The sudden development came up at Thursday’s District A meeting, where Erik Anderson said he remembered struggling in 2009 to get enough people to fill the seven slots available. “It is exciting for me to see there is this new debate happening,” he said. “… It’s interesting from my perspective to see the numbers increasing, that the committees are confident that they can find those people,” Anderson said.

Eloisa Melendez said Morris was concerned about the damage that had been done by last summer’s primaries.

“There was some healing to do but who knows what will happen now,” Anderson said. “Maybe we’ll get some people in the middle, help heal those wounds up. Who knows?”

“To me it was a matter of mathematics,” Serassis said. “By increasing the number of people who can vote on something then you can collectively come to a more conclusive result and an answer. I just think that with 55 people being able to vote there’s more ideas and more opinions that can go be harnessed in different areas.”

Camacho said there a somewhat lengthy discussion on Tuesday, then a motion to table the item. That failed.

Scott Kimmich made a motion to vote on it. Serasis seconded it, Camacho said. Someone made a motion to table it, but the parliamentarian ruled that motion had been made from the floor after the discussion and the motion could be acted on,” he said.

“They had been discussing it for months,” Serasis said.

Part of the argument against it was that it wasn’t necessary, Camacho said. The theory was that more people would come to meetings if guest speakers were brought in, he said.

There’s been no problem getting a quorum and most meetings don’t have an action item anyway, he said. A quorum now is 14; it will be 22, he said.

Some people may have been against it because of their “feelings about change in general. I don’t really understand why anybody would think this was a bad thing,” he said.

The goal is to be more inclusive, he said. In his experience, there has been more interest than seats, and hard feelings develop as a consequence, he said.

“It’s almost like ‘if you build it they will come.’ By virtue of there being the opportunity now available I suspect there are going to be more people who are going to want to get engaged,” Camacho said. “… I think overall there is very little reason not to do it and there is a potential upside, getting new people involved in the party.”


11 responses to “Norwalk DTC plans to let more people in”

  1. John Hamlin

    Smart move. Perhaps better representation and greater involvement will result in better ideas and better candidates for office.

  2. John Levin

    I have only respect for Ed Camacho. Wise. Brave. And fair. The Norwalk Dems have seriously lucked out.

  3. Sara Sikes

    Rules Committee reviews these issues. DTC has been avoiding having a Rules Committee for years, even though directed by State Central Committee to do so. There are more important issues than number of members.

  4. Stephanie

    The opposition by some to expand the DTC districts is based on fear of losing control. Perhaps now better candidates will be put up instead of candidates that are chosen because they can be controlled.
    Shame on you!

  5. EastNorwalkChick

    Good move, time to bring in new people, fresh ideas, maybe it’ll shake up the status quo. Many people were hesitant to get involved, because why bother, so many seats were locked in by a few people, your voice would never be heard….now maybe some of these voices will be heard now.

  6. Suzanne

    I don’t get but I am not a DTC insider. Why would more people create better “healing” prospects? It seems like more isn’t better, just more. Is the DTC’s divisiveness behind them? Is this an invitation to Kumbaya with the entrenched who are “afraid of change?” More insight to this decision is needed.

  7. piberman

    Kudos to Chairman Comacho. We all look forward to a more inclusive DTC.

  8. EveT

    Definitely a positive change and an opening for new people with fresh ideas who are not carrying the “baggage” of interpersonal conflicts and grudges held by some of the party insiders. I hope eventually the DTC will have 20 voting members per district like the RTC has.

  9. Bill

    This is great, now the DTC can more represent the town’s demographics, 60% white alone, 21% latino (way under represented on DTC), 12% african-american, & 5% asian (almost no one on DTC). Hopefully the local NAACP will demand the same race quotas that they are looking for in the fire department.

  10. Mike Mushak

    Bill. Great point about demographics. The 2010 census actually has Latino at 24%, not 21%, and Black at 14%, not 12%.

    The DTC has 35 members, roughly 49% or 17 of whom are members of a minority including Black, Latino, or LGBT. The Chair is Latino.

    Women make up 37% of the DTC.

    In a city that is roughly about 48% minority, (statewide LGBT population is 3.4% based on telephone polling but Norwalk is likely much higher than statewide based on presence of prominent social organizations like the TCC and proximity to NYC, so I guessed at a very conservative 5%) I would say the DTC is doing a pretty good job of reflecting the demographics of the city.

    It would be interesting to compare to the RTC demographics.

  11. Nora

    Ed did an amazing job. This was long over due for the DTC.

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