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Norwalk DTC to elect members Monday; District E has surprise candidates

Democratic ballots are counted in the 2016 caucus to elect Democratic Town Committee members. (File photo)

A conversation on Twitter.

NORWALK, Conn. – The often-sleepy election of Democratic Town Committee members has a sly surprise twist this year in District E. Some credit Lisa Brinton for the move but she said she’s not involved.

“On Monday, a group of non-Democrats is attempting to overtake my District. I hope every democrat I know is paying attention locally, state wide and nationally,” Tina Duryea wrote Friday in a Tweet.

The Democratic caucuses are being held Monday. Anyone can run, if they’re a registered Democrat.

Priscilla Feral, a Democrat who said she’s also running for the DTC, explained that the “Lisa Brinton contingent has been infiltrating to register as Democrats from unaffiliated in an attempt to take over the DTC slate.”

Brinton assembled a slate of independent candidates for the fall election, some of them registered Democrat.

“My understanding is the individuals running are registered Democrats, likely tired of not being represented by the DTC and are exercising their right to run a slate,” Brinton wrote Sunday. “They are NOT Independents – they are Democrats and as such, I do not know all their names.”

She said, “Confusion may be in the fact that I ran moderate Democrats on the Independent line, who were more concerned in serving Norwalk than pledging loyalty oaths to the current mayor.”

Feral provided tentative lists of candidates.

“Here is the slate of 11 people (the ‘Rilling Slate’) we are asking Democrats to vote for on Monday,” she wrote. They are:

  • Ed Camacho
  • Debra Harring D’Arinzo
  • Tina L. Duryea
  • Priscilla Feral
  • Mary Ellen Flaherty-Ludwig
  • Colin Anthony Hostin
  • Esther Murillo
  • Benita Raleigh
  • Lucia C. Rilling
  • Kevin M. Tepas
  • Stuart Wells

 

She said the following names are “Brinton’s collective and may not be finalized but submitted their names for the DTC.”

  • Aimee Ableman
  • Annie Allen
  • Michele Andrea
  • Charles Bryan Cavines
  • Todd DeKlyn
  • Sara Ingrassia
  • Camille Legnani
  • Jody Sattler
  • Dr. Alyson Smith
  • Peter Stuart
  • Sarah Wayland

 

Brinton said she thinks “it’s fabulous” that people are running for the DTC but, “I have nothing to do with this list. I don’t know half the people on it.”

Sattler ran unsuccessfully for an at large Board of Education seat under Brinton’s “Independents for Norwalk” banner last fall, coming in a distant fifth city-wide in a four-way race. She then attempted to get the seat that was vacated when Mike Barbis died unexpectedly, only to have DTC members select Flaherty, a retired teacher who is a non-Rowayton resident of District E.

In seeking the seat held by Barbis, Sattler won 453 signatures on an online petition urging the DTC to appoint her.  Sattler has strong support in Rowayton; in the city-wide BoE race, she handily won in District E2, which is predominantly Rowayton.  She came in fifth in Districts E1 and E3.

District E, as shown in a city Councilmatic District map.

Brinton called the DTC slate the “insider crowd.” They represent candidates from all parts of District E and are people who have invested many volunteer hours in Democratic activities; most of them are incumbents seeking reelection to the DTC. The alternative slate appears to be entirely people who live in Rowayton. Deklyn is Rowayton Hose Company Fire Chief.

Names will not be finalized until noon Monday.

The Democratic Town Committee votes to endorse candidates for election. As the next Board of Education race will be in-district, the District E DTC members will have the say on who is endorsed. They’ll also endorse Council candidates.

Then there could be a primary.

Electors choosing to vote for DTC members Monday evening must do so in person.

“Unfortunately people need to cast ballots in person. Because of the Covid surge this means many people are reluctant to come out,” Duryea wrote in a Tweet.

Sattler said Sunday night that she’s eligible to run because she’s a registered Democrat. She hadn’t heard from the DTC yet.

Norwalk Democratic Town Committee Chairwoman Eloisa Melendez declined to comment.

Brinton moved out of Rowayton and lives in District B now. She said she “loves” that the slate has materialized, as her intention has been to “wake people up.” She will “cheer them on from the sidelines in B.”

The DTC will elect 55 members Monday, 11 from each district. Voting begins at 7:30 p.m. in these locations:

  • District A – City Hall, 125 East Ave, Room 101
  • District B – Nathaniel Ely Elementary School,11 Ingalls Ave.
  • District C – Norwalk City Hall, 125 East Ave., Community Room
  • District D – Norwalk City Hall, 125 East Ave., Room A300
  • District E – Fox Run Elementary School, 228 Fillow St.

 

“The caucus is subject to early closing if, after nominations are closed, there are fewer than, or exactly, the same number of candidates as membership positions to fill,” the DTC said. “At all contested caucuses, the polls shall remain open for voting until 9:00 PM. All caucuses must be held in person. Masks are required.”

Updated, 6:06 p.m.: Photo added.

25 comments

Sue Haynie January 10, 2022 at 6:09 am

Sounds like Tina Duryea is a partisan hack
“On Monday, a group of non-Democrats is attempting to overtake my District. I hope every democrat I know is paying attention locally, state wide and nationally,” Tina Duryea wrote Friday in a Tweet.

Stuart Wells January 10, 2022 at 6:56 am

District E consists of the neighborhoods on the west and south of Norwalk whose residents vote at Fox Run, Brookside, or Rowayton in municipal election years like last year (2021). The Brookside voting district also includes the Harbor View and Dock Road area of Norwalk. The 5 council district’s boundary lines were created more than 40 years ago in the city charter. There is a map of the 5 council districts on the city website.
Stuart Wells, Democratic Registrar of Voters

Bob Schumann January 10, 2022 at 7:47 am

Lisa Brinton and her “Independent” party are, like her, Republicans trying to get elected by calling themselves “Independents” and have found a couple of, as she calls them, “moderate Democrats” to give her and her “squad,” as I read someone once refer to them, cover. If you don’t believe me watch who comes out to defend her whenever I post this fact.

Elsa Peterson Obuchowski January 10, 2022 at 8:59 am

Important: According to DTC bylaws, voters must vote for 11 candidates in their district. Any ballot with fewer than 11 names marked will not be counted.
Voting begins at 7:30 p.m. and closes at 9:00 p.m. (unless the caucus closes early because there are 11 or fewer candidates).
All registered Democrats can vote in their respective districts.
Why does this matter? DTC members are the ones who vote to endorse municipal candidates (mayor, Common Council, Board of Education) when the time comes for endorsements in July of every odd-numbered year. DTC members are also usually the first ones chosen as delegates to nominating conventions for state office such as Governor.

Alyson Smith January 10, 2022 at 9:38 am

I am extremely disappointed to see that the two people spreading these lies about other candidates are candidates themselves (Tina Duryea and Priscilla Feral). I am a lifelong Democrat, have no affiliation with Lisa Brinton or the Independent Party, and am running for the District E Democratic Town Committee. If elected, I will represent District E with honesty and integrity.

James Cahn January 10, 2022 at 10:32 am

I suspect that this is one of those THREATS TO OUR DEMOCRACY™ I’ve been hearing about. But I’m not the smartest guy in the world so, it’s so hard for me to tell why.

Is this one a THREAT TO OUR DEMOCRACY™ because there are people who are following the rules and trying to get involved? Or is it a THREAT TO OUR DEMOCRACY™ because they had the audacity to not get proper permission to become involved? Or is it a THREAT TO OUR DEMOCRACY™ because it upsets the entrenched, existing hierarchy to exist unchallenged? Either way, it must be stopped. Lack of deference or demands of accountability to the existing politicians is DANGEROUS. Letting anyone who’s a Democrat say that they want to be on a Democratic board can’t be allowed to just happen.

It goes without saying that Lisa Brinton is a THREAT TO OUR DEMOCRACY™ for her absolutely insane and unforgivable ideas like, “I’m going to run for office and get other people to run for office and vote and stuff.” She’s a GRIFTER. And she’s trying to GASLIGHT everyone. She’s also a MARXIST. Or a FASCIST. I don’t really know what any of those terms mean but I saw them on the internet while I was posting articles to social media. To be clear, I couldn’t read those articles because they were behind paywalls. But the headlines seemed important. So, I “shared” them anyway. To PROTECT OUR DEMOCRACY!!! You can’t just disagree with Lisa and leave it at that. She must be stopped.

I’m also confused about another item. Lisa used to be a secret Republican. I mean, if you need more proof that she’s a secret Republican, look no further than her encouragement of Shirley Mosby, a longtime Republican sympathizer, to run for Board of Ed. But her latest stunt, encouraging registered Democrats to get involved in the Norwalk Democratic organizations is beyond outrageous and reveals that she’s also a secret Democrat.

Which is it Lisa??? Are you a secret Democrat or a secret Republican? Your refusal to identify yourself as either is a THREAT TO OUR DEMOCRACY™

To these “so called Democrats:” What’s next? Primarying the incumbents??!? That can’t be allowed to happen. I really hope that Democrats don’t start primarying each other. That would be a catastrophe. Are any of the people on the “Lisa List” reading this? Whatever you do, don’t primary anyone. Definitely don’t primary anyone. It would be a shame if anyone got the idea to primary incumbents. A shame and dangerous, the primarying….

Jen Stevens January 10, 2022 at 1:15 pm

Nancy, thank you for bringing this to our attention. How can one determine which district they belong to? I hope everyone gets out and votes in their districts TODAY, especially DEMS concerned about this concept of “repurposed” Independent slate. DEMS must get out and vote and retain there stakeholders are firmly voted in. Despite any “by any.means necessary” duplicitous actions by the posers.

JS

John O'Neill January 10, 2022 at 4:10 pm

What I find amusing about this piece is that a number of active Democrats are really not democratic at all. It’s pretty evident from above that if you’re not considered a strict party loyalist you’re not allowed to play. In my opinion, there’s a large country in Eastern Europe that has the same philosophy.

Elsa Peterson Obuchowski January 10, 2022 at 4:54 pm

In answer to Jen Stevens and others wanting to know which district they live in, the quickest way now that it’s almost 5 PM is to look on this map. https://www.norwalkct.org/DocumentCenter/View/299/Munimap?bidId=

Basically, the districts are as follows.
A = central Norwalk and City Hall area
B = South Norwalk
C = eastern Norwalk, including East Norwalk and the strip along the Westport border
D = Cranbury and Silvermine
E = western Norwalk, Brookside, Rowayton

I would list which polling places go with which districts, but this can be confusing because many Norwalk voters switch polling places between even- and odd-numbered years.

During business hours, you can phone the Registrar of Voters to find out your district, but for tonight’s caucus naturally the time is past to do this.

Sara Ingrassia January 10, 2022 at 5:08 pm

Like Alyson Smith, I was dismayed to be called a Non Democrat by Tina Druyea. I’ve been a registered Democrat my entire adult life and am excited to run for a DTCM position in District E. As someone who has volunteered in her children’s schools for years, I would now like to be involved in the process of nominating individuals to local, state and national positions who can implement policies that will help improve our public schools on a macro scale. As a working mother of four, who believes in strong public schools, affordable healthcare/ housing options and environmental policies that mitigate global warming, I’m in strong agreement with the tenets of the Democratic platform. I’m a Democrat who believes in the democratic process.

Aimee Ableman January 10, 2022 at 5:13 pm

Call me thin-skinned, but I am truly disappointed that NON didn’t take a few extra minutes to fact-check the information she was provided by Tina Duryea, an incumbent on the Democratic Town Committee for District E. Like Alyson Smith, I too, have been a registered Democrat since voting in the 1992 Presidential Election for the Clinton/Gore ticket. I am honored to be able to put my name forward as a candidate for the DTC and I hope that everyone who shows up to vote will consider our interest in being part of the democratic process in Norwalk.

Patrick Cooper January 10, 2022 at 5:35 pm

So very, very confusing. What exactly is a non-democrat, democrat? A Non-D / D?

I mean, I get the abject fear. Only 24 of 25 seats plus mayor is a very fragile hold on power.

Perhaps a Non-D / D is one who does not believe in true bi-partisan representation of the electorate? When “one party rule is acceptable, when it’s us”

Perhaps a Non-D / D is one who does not believe in transparency, and chooses to determine policy, who gets hired / fired, and what developers get to win – behind closed doors, in caucus, or of late – pre-zoom. Maybe everything is even decided on an old ugly boat.

Perhaps a Non-D / D is one who doesn’t believe in ethics violations, like voting for a preferred developer when you know that developer is contributing to a Dem PAC. And then saying – nothing to see here. Similar to the selection of Ventura Law, or a hundred other sketchy decisions.

Perhaps a Non-D / D is one who fears strong, independent women who speak truth to power? That Non-D / D would be justified in using unfounded racial slurs and character assassination – nothing untoward about that. Because Non-D / D’s make it personal – and the others stay classy.

Perhaps a Non-D / D makes (empty) promises that the taxpaying residents truly want, promises made simply to win elections. And like the emperor’s clothes, those promises remain an illusion, unfulfilled. Year after year. Like fixing planning & zoning, not just merging them to make passing projects easier for the doners.

Or perhaps – this is the ultimate tell at the poker table. The tell that says – we know the game is rigged, and it’s rigged through the selection of blood-oath loyalists and sycophants who make-up the local DTC. Harry’s D’s. Not D’s – Harry’s D’s. It’s not party – it’s townie, and crony.

Give Lisa Brinton credit – she knows how to make local room temp IQ’s get nutty. I mean, apparently she scared the R’s into not voting for ballot slots where no R’s ran, because she was secretly trying to take over their party while simultaneously doing the very same to the local Democrats. I’m certain she is off somewhere right now, meeting with George Soros and Charles Koch, plotting the demise of the current world order, and Bob Duff.

Anthony Scott Goodwin January 10, 2022 at 7:09 pm

Hi Bob Schumann – as one of the folks who ran on the Independents for Norwalk ticket in November, I can guarantee you, I haven’t been registered as a Republican, ever. I’ve been registered as a Democrat, Independent or Unaffiliated, depending on my mood.

When I chose to run last fall, it was exclusively because I felt like the Democrats that I had voted for were not just taking my vote for granted, but pursuing policies without taking into account District C’s concerns. I was, as Nancy would say, a distant fourth. Disappointing, but not shocking. Still, not a Republican in sheep’s clothing…

All the inside baseball drama here on NoN and histrionics about party purity are silly. Keep doing what you’ve always done and you’ll keep getting what you’ve always gotten. I don’t know most of the folks running in E, but Jody Sattler’s smart and a class act and worth a vote.

Michael McGuire January 10, 2022 at 7:47 pm

James Cahn – your best yet! But be careful or you might just become….a THREAT TO OUR DEMOCRACY™

Seriously? January 10, 2022 at 9:38 pm

I know only one of the people on the “Rilling Slate,” Benita Raleigh, who is top notch in every respect. She has both intelligence and integrity.

This said, I take strong exception to the hatchet job that some Democrats are doing against some of the new people being presented for the DTC. It is time for a major infusion of new blood.

Although I have been a registered Democrat for nearly all of my adult life, I have not been active in politics for years, and I am not active in this campaign that some seem to regard as a coup. However, for reasons unrelated to politics, I know a half dozen of these people who are trying to help the DTC make a positive difference in Norwalk. They are accomplished people, very hardworking and extremely intelligent. They also understand the importance of political compromise, especially because they have been heavily involved in the community. The six I know are: Aimee Ableman, Annie Allen, Sara Ingrassia, Jody Sattler, Alyson Smith and Sarah Wayland.

It’s time to open the door to this new blood because the City of Norwalk’s Democratic machine is failing in many respects, especially on the Board of Education, which is an embarrassment and a disgrace.

Leslie Kelly January 11, 2022 at 8:51 am

The use of “my” in reference to the Democratic party is a strong indicator that it is time for change. Believe the pronouns for a democracy are We/Us/Our.

Oversight January 11, 2022 at 11:21 am

Newsflash. There are plenty of former R’s who are Unaffiliated with a party. Some may be moderate D’s but refuse to join the Democratic Party in Norwalk bc of it’s cliquish tendencies. Single party rule is hurting Norwalk, and some moderate voices could be what the precious Norwalk DTC needs. Alas, will they share power – remains to be seen.

David January 11, 2022 at 11:33 am

This comment thread reminds me why I am not, and have never been, a member of any political party. Thank you for that!

Jim Tru January 11, 2022 at 3:28 pm

This is the exact reason the DTC extended each district to 11 seats vs. 7 a few years back. It would prevent one group of people from hijacking the entire district.
When you read comments like one Ms. Duryea is making, it’s clear that the party needs new blood. Obviously threatened by their own party members just tells me that there is a collective that thinks they know best.

If you were true to the democratic process and party this would not be a threat to you.

POWER TO THE PEOPLE!!!

Nora King January 11, 2022 at 11:44 pm

I was one of the original DTC members who fought to extend the DTC Districts from 7 to 11. I actually recommended 15. It is a good thing to include more voices. I have known the majority of the new slate of candidates for years who put their names forward and then won after the ballot counting today. Jody Sattler, Aimee Ableman , Dr. Alyson Smith, Sarah Wayland, Annie Allen, Sara Ingrassia, Camille Legnani and Todd DeKlyn won 8 out of the 11 slots. All of these people I have known for years. All Democrats. They supported me on various runs for office, Mike Barbis, John Igneri and other candidates. They are all active in the community and have improved the lives of others and have done many things to improve the quality of life for Norwalkers. They are kind, smart and genuinely good people. They ran for office because their voices were not being heard by the exclusive DTC establishment in Norwalk. They tried on many occasions. What was shown to them by the current District E members were that their voice didn’t matter. They were excluded. A nasty robo call went out that was not factual, they were taunted the night of the vote and then threatened that their win would not matter and the District candidates would continue to invalidate the win. How does that behavior even reflect democratic principles? The current DTC has really lost touch with all Democrats especially the parents of Norwalk. I congratulate those 11 brave people who were not part of the establishment and stepped up and are going to work hard for us and for our kids. It shows others that if they want to get involved there will be a seat at the table. This group of newly elected Democrats will not exclude people because that is not who they are.

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