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Norwalk NAACP awaits vote for potential new leadership

A screengrab of the Norwalk NAACP website.

Updated, 3 p.m.: More information.

NORWALK, Conn. – While the nation ponders the results of more than 140 million votes in what may be the most important election in our lifetimes, a much smaller local election has yet to get off the ground.

The Norwalk branch NAACP election to choose new officers, typically held the week after Election Day, has been postponed and the State organization is involved. Norwalk Branch NAACP President Brenda Penn-Williams did not return a phone call asking for an explanation Monday; on Tuesday, she said she asked the State NAACP to take over the election.

You may recall that Jalin Sead is seeking to unseat Penn-Williams, an intention he announced in June. On Monday, Sead said multiple people asked the State NAACP to oversee the Norwalk election so it would be fair and impartial. Penn-Williams disputed that Tuesday. Getting the State involved “was my call,” she said.

The election was postponed in September and may be held in December, Sead said. The State organization rightfully decided to focus its energy on getting people out to vote in the general election.

Norwalk Fair Housing Advisory Commission member Jalin Sead, a community activist, as seen in a video he released in June.

“Anybody who ever ran for an election isn’t going to really complain about extra time to get out to the voters, especially with this kind of election,” said Sead, who goes by “Sead of Change.”

In 2016, 114 votes were cast in the election that made Penn-Williams president. Sead is seeking to sign up new NAACP members.

“I’ve been saying, utilize the time there to get out in and reach as much people as we can to get them to join NAACP,” Sead said. “The numbers are looking pretty good but we always work it up until we have a deadline. So once they set the date, we have 30 days before that date to find people to become a member. I’ve been working to just make sure that we can recruit as much people as possible. So I’ve been taking advantage of the extra time.”

The lifelong Norwalker sought to be Norwalk NAACP President in 2016, when Darnell Crosland stepped down, but lost to Penn-Williams. In 2017, he left the NAACP and founded Connecticut Coalition For Change (CC4C). He’s on the Democratic Town Committee and Fair Housing Commissioner and is a First Taxing District Commissioner.

Norwalk Branch NAACP President Brenda Penn-Williams. (File photo)

Penn-Williams was vice president when she was elected to fill Crosland’s shoes, in a 75-39 vote. She’s also on the DTC and has served more than one term as vice chairwoman, though she hasn’t been an officer since 2014. Her presidential tenure was marked last year by raucous protests of remarks made by then-Board of Education Chairman Mike Barbis; with the pandemic, things have been quiet. Sead has helped lead Black Lives Matter protests but Penn-Williams has stayed home to protect her family from COVID-19.

Sead said he is not one of the people who asked the State NAACP to get involved in the local election. While the new date for a  vote hasn’t been set yet, he thinks that given the 30-day deadline for new members, the earliest it would happen would be in December.

“It’s a weird scenario,” he said.

Sead said the national election is “kind of energizing.”

“With hard work, we could really get some things going,” he said. “So we just want to invite people to join the NAACP, either online or they can reach out to me on forums, and any questions, I’m definitely more than happy to answer and talk to anybody who has any questions about joining.”

One comment

Curious Voter November 12, 2020 at 3:08 pm

My understanding was that several members asked Mr. Esdaile to step in due to an unknown person to the branch members potentially receiving and counting the votes in the election. An apparent distrust of current branch leadership also contributed. If this is incorrect Ms. Penn-Williams or an E-board member can please make a correction for us. Hopefully prior to the election. Thank you.

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