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Norwalk Republican resigns council, blames rancor & partisan politics

Norwalk Common Council member Joanne Romano (R-At Large) resigned Tuesday, saying, “The way things are this term is dysfunctional and an affront to the taxpayers.” (Contributed photo)

By Nancy Guenther Chapman

NORWALK, Conn. – A veteran Republican Norwalk Common Council member has resigned, pointing an accusatory finger of blame at those who sit across from her in the council chambers – the Democrats.

Joanne Romano resigned at Tuesday’s Common Council meeting, citing the climate of meetings over the past year as her motivation. Two Council Democrats have since responded by saying Romano’s resignation shows there are problems within the Republican caucus.

“I’ve basically had it,” Romano said Wednesday morning, mentioning the “grandstanding and the fighting” as the “culmination of the reason.”

On Wednesday afternoon, Warren Peña (D, At Large) said, “I can appreciate what she’s saying. However, I feel that, based off of what she said last night, in terms of nobody listening to her and nobody respecting her perspective and opinion, speaks a lot more volumes than the actual bickering and fighting.”

Romano announced her decision by reading a statement, which included this comment: “The last year on the Council has been quite different than any other. I have never experienced the meaningless rancor, political grandstanding and disrespect rather than improving our city. It is pointless to me to continue down a path where there is no light at the end of a partisan tunnel; where my contributions are no longer looked at as meaningful and my voice is no longer acknowledged.”

“Frankly, I believe that the reason why she resigned is more a part of the reason of what and why we have been kind of fighting with the mayor on particular things,” said Peña, who has been on the council since last year’s election. “That’s because she’s a member of the Republican caucus over there and, unfortunately, she can’t speak her mind. That’s unfortunate.”

David Watts (D-District A) agreed, saying, “It’s not us, it’s clearly within her caucus.”

Peña and others said the Nov. 13 council meeting, in which Democrats tried to initiate a debate over the elimination of the rank of captain in the Norwalk Police Department, was particularly rancorous. Romano left the room and missed the vote on the issue, which Peña acknowledged led him to criticize her. That may have “rubbed her the wrong way,” he said.

“I think that was one of the many reasons that she might have resigned,” he said. “However, my attempt was never to attack her personally. The captains issue was obviously something we were passionate about. … I’m the youngest guy on the council. When you try to shut me up and not allow me to speak and/or have a conversation about something, unfortunately I can kick and scratch.”

Romano, an At-Large council member, was first elected to the council in 2005. She did not run for re-election in 2007, but ran and won in November 2009. She has been on the council since then. Her resignation is effective Friday.

As a Justice of the Peace and as a member of the Human Relations Commission, Romano has 18 years of public service in Norwalk, and said she has no intention to stop. She is holding a fundraiser Saturday at the American Legion, “Stockings From Santa for Our Troops!”

“I’m sorry to see Joanne go but I just thought she was a victim of group think,” Watts said. “She’s a good person but when it comes to the political she votes in lock step with the Republicans.”

The police captain issue was tough on Romano, Watts said. When the year started, Watts was the chairman of the Health, Welfare and Public Safety Committee, as Democrats were in control. He put the police captain issue on the agenda and Republicans indicated a willingness to talk about it, but said they didn’t yet have information, according to Watts. He set it aside.

“I had the votes at that time to get it on the committee and vote on it,” he said.

When Council member Michael Geake (I-District B) left the Democratic party and became unaffiliated, Romano became the chairwoman. The issue was never put on the agenda, Watts said.

That hurt her in her recent campaign against incumbent state Rep. Chris Perone (D-District 137), as she sought the police union’s endorsement.

“She paid the price,” Watts said. “It had to be demoralizing for her. It wasn’t even close. She was down about that. Warren and I were out there making sure she would lose. That’s politics. Both Warren and I like her personally, we just don’t like her politics.”

Romano said she wants to spend quality time with her family and grandsons, something she hasn’t been able to do much of for 18 years. Asked by email about the Democrats’ comments, she repeated that partisan politics were the major reason for her resignation.

“I have always been a moderate and I have never been afraid to speak my mind, as anyone will tell you, but if they think I’m going to play games with anyone who doesn’t know the rules … the next 12 months will be more of the same,” she said. “Hopefully they learn the rules of the game and forget their own agendas.”

Geake agreed that Romano is a moderate. “I’m sorry to hear her go,” he said. “We tried to talk her out of it. She’s one of the steadier voices there. She’s certainly center of the road, definitely doesn’t do anything for partisan reasons.”

Joanne Resignation

Comments

4 responses to “Norwalk Republican resigns council, blames rancor & partisan politics”

  1. Joanne Romano

    David, your comments are nothing less than appalling, my reason for leaving is as I have told you both because of your nastiness, your need to succeed at all costs, your rudeness, your disrespect for the position you hold and your lack of ability to understand and abide by council rules which you both signed at the beginning of your terms and you have both gone against each and every one of them so far! Maybe you need to re-read council rules before you continue into the next session!!! As for me, I will be watching as you stumble and fall and I will not be a part of your tedious games! kindly keep my name out of any more conversations , you don’t know me, you don’t know anything about me and you need not attempt to defame me. My leaving had nothing to do with losing the election, believe me, its the States loss that more fiscally conservative people were not elected. Look at the mess we are in and look who’s in power. That should anser yours and anyone elses questions about what went wrong! You care nothing about anyone or thing other than your personal agenda. Stop talking to me, about me and in blogs and newspapers! You think I’m mild mannered? Think again my friend…you’ve never seen me when I’m on a mission!

    1. John Frank

      Never seen you on a mission ? I always thought the work of being on the council, if you did it, was mission enough. Of course just going along with your caucus may not be much of a mission.

  2. David Watts

    Joanne,

    I respect you and will never make another comment about you. I just want to enjoy the holidays with my family. I hope you reconsider and come back to the council because Norwalk is losing a moderate republican voice.
    I am shopping for a Xmas tree, listening to Xmas songs and drinking egg nog. I am not thinking about this stuff.

    Happy Holidays.

  3. oldtimer

    Council rules ? Where would a simple voter get to see them ?

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