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Norwalk Republican Registrar gives in, leaving office after 20 years

Norwalk Republican Registrar Karen Doyle Lyons. (File photo)

NORWALK, Conn. — Karen Doyle Lyons is leaving her post as Norwalk Republican Registrar, ending a battle inspired by a Facebook post widely condemned as racist.

“The Norwalk Republican Town Committee has been informed that the Secretary of the State office has determined that correspondence from Norwalk Registrar of Voters Karen Lyons indicating her intent to remove her candidacy for re-election is final,” RTC Chairman Carl Dickens said in a statement.

Lyons’ 20 years as registrar will end on July 20, in accordance with the correspondence she sent, Dickens said, echoing a statement made Wednesday by Mayor Harry Rilling.

Lyons inspired outrage with a June 22 Facebook comment, “No more Black History Month because many of us know more then many Blacks.” In response, she has emphasized that she meant Black history should be taught year-round. Her Facebook comment was swiftly followed by one that said, “I am just saying study, learn not just one month but all year. I do and so should many others.”

While Dickens, Rilling and Town Clerk Rick McQuaid have said that Doyle Lyons submitted letters agreeing that she would resign and not seek reelection this fall, Doyle Lyons has said that the letters were “drafts,” and weren’t signed. They were done in response to bullying and threats, she said.

“I found out today that the first email I sent as Carl Dickens and the Mayor threatened … my family stands,” Doyle Lyons said in an email. “Because of Covid they don’t need a signature on documents. Even though I rescinded the email they say it stands.”

The RTC statement quotes Doyle Lyons as saying, “I am truly sorry if I offended anyone as that was not my intent. The administration has forced my retirement and the SOTS {Secretary of the State} has removed me as a moderator trainer. Power of the Mayor.”

“I think she made the right decision and I look forward to a new era in the registrar’s office,” Mayor Harry Rilling said in an email. “I would encourage the RTC to appoint somebody quickly because we have primaries and a national election on the horizon.”

The RTC “will quickly commence activation of its Vacancy Committee in order to find a qualified candidate to endorse for the position of Registrar of Voters,” the RTC press release said.

Doyle Lyons was under fire from a different direction: Connecticut Secretary of the State Denise Merrill was seeking her removal.

A screenshot provided to NancyOnNorwalk.

Merrill sent a letter Tuesday to the State Elections Enforcement Commission (SEEC), calling Doyle Lyons’ statement “misconduct in the highest degree,” a “‘willful and material neglect of duty’ in the conduct of her office.”

“Making statements disparaging a certain group of voters denies that group of voters the equal protection of the law afforded to them pursuant to the Connecticut and United States Constitutions. Full and unfettered access to the ballot box is the fundamental democratic right from which all of our other American rights flow and Ms. Lyons’ comments call her commitment to that access into question,” Merrill wrote.

Doyle Lyons said Wednesday that she found out through a third party that Berkshire Hathaway had terminated her real estate affiliation with them.

“Very vindictive, and it’s personal attacks,” she said. “…I was not an active realtor anyway. Whoever did that, so be it.”

Dickens said Thursday, “Although delayed, today’s decision by Karen Lyons is appropriate. The Norwalk Republican Town Committee called on Ms. Lyons to resign her position and withdraw her nomination moments after receiving a copy of the Facebook posting. Notwithstanding Karen Lyons long service to our community the posting was clearly unacceptable and contrary to the basic values shared by our Republican Party.”

13 comments

David McCarthy July 3, 2020 at 6:57 am

This is for the best. She had become a lightning rod for criticism and could not do her job any longer with this noise. In a different time she might have sparked discussion about the mistakes being made in removing historical statues from the city without any reasonable discussion, etc. Facebook wasn’t the place for that argument and certainly the way she approached it was not correct.

John ONeill July 3, 2020 at 9:32 am

Okay, so the self righteous finally got the result they’ve been clamoring for. I hope theyre not doing a victory lap as karma has a way of balancing the universe. Good Luck to Karen and a lesson for everyone in current climate on social media potholes.
As I read this morning’s local version of USA Today, I came up with today’s shout out to ANOTHER American Hero. It may shock some critics of America that they’re are so many and their contibutons so broad. Anyway, Robert Abbott come on down! Your contribution to journalism and the migration of Americans to the Midwest has not gone unoticed!!

Joe from Norwalk July 3, 2020 at 3:40 pm

When are we receiving the ‘little Red Book” by force ?

Pretty soon Martin Luther Kings statues will be taken down as he’s not radical enough for Louis Farrakhan and BLMS objectives.

Skeptical July 3, 2020 at 4:05 pm

Terrific news. Now KDL will have more free time to read the black history about which she’s so passionate. Perhaps she will even use some of that time to promote its study.

Norwalk Native July 3, 2020 at 7:28 pm

Good riddance!

Does not represent the under- represented Norwalk Republicans well at all. Need to dethrone the King/Rilling Caliphate as soon as possible!

Barry July 3, 2020 at 8:23 pm

Listen, her apology is basically the same as everyone who gets caught and exposes their hidden side. This isn’t Lyons first offense, this is the first time she’s been caught. She’s only sorry she got caught. If she wasn’t offending anyone, why delete the post?

Phil July 3, 2020 at 11:07 pm

@Joe from Norwalk If someone discovers that Martin Luther King owned slaves and brutalized people, then YES, his statues should come down as well. People are mainly attacking the statues of tyrants if you haven’t noticed.

Bryan Meek July 4, 2020 at 8:06 am

Would you ever guess that a local ROV would be held to a higher standard than a Presidential candidate who told people who would vote against him “then you ain’t black”?

JustaTaxpayer July 4, 2020 at 11:14 am

@Phil. MLK is reported to have had affairs with 40 women and solicited prostitutes. Good thing ANTIFA is on the left – his statues are safe.

Phil July 6, 2020 at 3:51 am

@JustATaxpayer Christopher Columbus and his crew raped, enslaved, brutalized and murdered thousands of people in the Caribbean and later in the New World he claims to have discovered. Columbus also sold girls as young as 9 years old into sexual slavery.
Now, I have heard MLK was an adulterer. Although I never heard anything about 40 different women or prostitutes. But let’s just say all that is true. MLK’s adultery does not rise to the level of egregiousness that Columbus displayed. What MLK allegedly did with 40 women sound pretty consensual to me. I would also argue that MLK did more good than Columbus ever had. At least MLK wanted to unite people. Columbus was an tyrant, rapist and a murderer. But anyhow…Glad you could find a way to insert the misdeeds of a black person on a post about the former Republican registrar of voters and HER racist behavior. Cool deflection bro.

Gypsy July 10, 2020 at 2:32 pm

Just more proof that karma does eventially catch up to a person. Can’t think of anyone who deserved it more.

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