Norwalk political notes: The election develops

Doug Hempstead, at a Republican Town Committee protest in June.

Some Norwalk political notes for you:

  • Hempstead for BoE
  • Dems offer new BoE candidate in District A
  • Meek offers Rs strategy tips
  • Red, but blue
  • Wilms makes ‘simple request’

Surprise candidate

Doug Hempstead, long a prominent Norwalk political figure, is coming out of retirement to run for the Board of Education, representing District D.

Hempstead, a Republican, is taking the ballot slot of Greg Helms, who was announced as the party’s candidate in July.

Hempstead did not reply to multiple emails asking for comment. He faces Democratic candidate Ashley Gulyas, a newcomer.

Now retired from his role as Stew Leonard’s VP, Hempstead served on the Common Council from 1985 to 1995 and then again from 2003 to 2019. He was elected Council President five times.

Hempstead served in the Norwalk Zoning Commission from 1999 to 2002, according to the Republican Town Committee.

Other volunteer service includes time on:

  • The Maritime Authority
  • The Historical Commission
  • The Mayor’s Task Force on Homelessness
  • Norwalk Seaport Association Board of Trustees
  • Norwalk Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors

Hempstead is currently Lockwood Mathews Mansion Museum Board of Trustees President. He was educated by Norwalk Public Schools and received a Masters in Business Administration from Sacred Heart University.

In 2017, Hempstead said his wife was a teacher at Wolfpit Elementary School; the couple have been married for 50 years. The lifelong Norwalkers have three grown sons and at least one grandson.

Norwalk Democrats do not yet have candidate information posted on their website.

Pleasants runs for BoE in A

Town Clerk Rick McQuaid on Friday released the results from a candidate lottery held that morning to determine ballot position.

The spreadsheet had a hole in the Democratic lineup: no Board of Education candidate in District A, a heavily Democratic district, although Democrats endorsed Hector Pachas in July.

Norwalk Democratic Town Committee Chairman Colin Hosten did not reply to a Friday afternoon email asking about the hole.

“Members of the DTC in District A endorsed Samantha Pleasants for BOE last Thursday, and her paperwork was submitted to the Town Clerk on Friday. We look forward to supporting her on Line A, and for voters to get to know the wonderful and diverse background and qualifications she brings to public service,” Hosten said Monday.

Alexandra Kemeny is the Republican and Independent candidate for District A Board of Education.  

The lottery determined “ballot positions (columns in vote for any two, four, or five races) such as Common Council at Large, etc.,” McQuaid said. It “Also includes other candidates currently on the ballot for reference. Withdrawals and replacements are still possible, but the replacement would take the ballot place of the candidate whom they replaced.”

Updated, 11:56 a.m.: Dem candidate.

Getting out the vote

At last week’s Republican Town Committee meeting, District D Council candidate Bryan Meek, an experienced vote getter, offered tips to his fellow candidates, first summarizing issues he feels show fiscal mismanagement, then laying out “the thrust of my campaign.”

Meek takes the voter history list that Norwalk Democratic Registrar Stuart Wells provides and “slices and dices” it to show which Republicans only vote in Federal and State elections – 800 in District D, he said.

“I try to contact these people and let them know that they are killing us,” he said.

State politicians “don’t matter nearly as much as what we can do on the local level,” Meek said. Even with those people voting, Democrats have still won major State offices.

“I know everybody wants to feel empowered,” Meek said. “So I mean, rather than explaining to them, ‘you’re killing us,’ like ‘you could really make a difference if you came out in the local elections.’ And that’s my campaign.”

Meek is an incumbent, having been appointed to replace retiring Council member Tom Keegan in a vote held by the 20-member District D committee, reportedly attended by 13 members.

He served one term on the Board of Education after being elected in 2015.

“In a district race, you know, 200 votes, it’s a game changer,” RTC Chairman Fred Wilms said.

Another take

A John Levin campaign sign.

John Levin, running At Large as a newcomer Republican Council candidate, offered his thoughts on campaigning.

After pointing out that Republicans haven’t won an At Large Council seat since 2017, the blue-bearded Levin said “our work is cut out for us” and “It is a struggle.”

“I am hoping that the blue beard iconography will help out,” he said. “I do get positive feedback from young people. I really do.”

Problem is, he asks them if they’re registered to vote and they’re not sure, he said. “I have to go get the voter registration forms then and ensure that people vote. But it’s interesting, that’s a very interesting demographic. They’re quite different. They’re not the same as let’s say the single-family residential homeowners who have property taxes and kids in school.”

“He’s got a lock on the Gen Z vote,” Wilms quipped.

‘Be kinder’

“I think the last few weeks, you know, have been a little tough for us for a variety of reasons,” Wilms told the RTC. “And, that’s fine. You know, we agree, we disagree, things happen. That’s always that way but I think we’ve become a little unsettled.”

“Simple request” for the volunteer organization, “let’s just try to do a little better with each other, be a little kinder to each other,” he said, suggesting the fired up energy go to supporting Mayoral candidate Vinny Scicchitano.

In an email to NancyOnNorwalk, Wilms said, “I was referring to the heightened passions and emotions that build as we get closer to Election Day. All town committees of all parties go through this.”

He said, “I reminded everyone to focus on supporting our candidates – who have been receiving fantastic responses from the community.”


NancyOnNorwalk requires full names from commenters.

For more information, go here.


2 responses to “Norwalk political notes: The election develops”

  1. John Levin

    Beyond the beard situation, if anyone is interested in my values and beliefs there is substance at the campaign’s Facebook page LevinForNorwalk. Please visit or contact me directly. Ideas and values are important.

  2. Victor Cavallo

    So why why didn’t the RTC cross-endorsement deal with Lisa include Vinny so that he could run on two lines like Harry??

Leave a Reply

sponsored advertisement




Recent Comments