Norwalk Republicans nominate Federici; registrar’s husband lets it fly

John Federici
John Federici talks to Norwalk Republicans Thursday after becoming the party’s endorsed candidate for registrar.

NORWALK, Conn. – Norwalk Republicans voted to oust long-time registrar Karen Doyle Lyons Thursday, nominating John Federici as their candidate in the fall election, leaving Federici “humbled” and Doyle Lyons’ husband angry.

“Democracy works,” said Doyle Lyons, promising to seek the will of a broader pool of voters in an August primary.

Norwalk Republicans 052214 107-001
Norwalk Republican Registrar Karen Doyle Lyons circulates at the Republican Town Committee meeting Thursday.

There were 57 ballots cast at the Republican Town Committee meeting held in the Norwalk Inn. RTC Chairman Pete Torrano declined to share the vote total but said Federici won. Three women counted the ballots several times, he said.

“It was close,” Doyle Lyons said.

Federici has never run for office before.

“I never thought, going back to living on Wall Street, growing up there and having my father carry me up Mill Hill during the flood, 55 – scrawny little kid, rain coming down, didn’t know if we were going to make it – thinking 59 years later I’d be running for anything like this, and here I am a candidate. Never thought I would do it. I have and I really appreciate you supporting me,” Federici said to the crowd, after winning the contest.

Later, Federici said that “many people in this room” had been asking him to run, going back six years. Doyle Lyons has been registrar for 13.5 years.

A letter left on all the seats in the room explained Doyle Lyons’ qualifications.

“I have learned every aspect of the office and the position, the laws that must be followed and have carried out every duty successfully in over 13 elections and many primaries,” Doyle Lyons wrote. “I have created new responsibilities and procedures, brought in and administered new technologies. Moreover, I have continued to educate myself and others… Because of my professionalism I have been appointed by the secretary of state. I am one of only two registrars who go to other municipalities throughout Connecticut to teach and educate new registrars and election official facilitators. This opportunity not only benefits these municipalities, but also Norwalk as I often come away with valuable teaching a resources and election procedures to share with our city.”

A source who declined to be identified said Republicans blame Doyle Lyons for dwindling membership. The source suggested that it might have to do more with former Chairman Art Scialabba “threatening excommunication” than anything Doyle Lyons did or didn’t do.

Doyle Lyons’ husband, Dan Lyons, was not so circumspect.

“You’ve been bought, Carol,” he said to District A Chairwoman Carol Andreoli, after Federici accepted the nomination.

Andreoli was leading the charge even though she used to be friends with Doyle Lyons, the source said. Andreoli is the author of a letter going around, urging Republicans to vote for Federici, the source said, expressing shock at the content.

“I did support John Federici, but I have the utmost respect for Karen as well,” Andreoli said, when asked about the allegations.
She walked a short distance, only to be confronted by Mr. Lyons.

“It’s democracy,” she said.

“I have lost all my respect for you,” Lyons said. “God bless you. Sleep on that tonight.”

“I watched her over the past year or so and unfortunately she’s very two-faced,” he said. “But that’s politics. I’ve been in it for a long time. I know what happens. I think there’s a faction that wants to remove Karen. John Federici and Peter Torrano are joined at the hip. It’s obvious to everyone. That’s been said to me by other Republicans.”

That prompted a fuller comment from Doyle Lyons, which she described as a compliment to the former RTC chairman.

“The thing is, Art Scialabba at least was neutral when there was two people,” she said. “… That’s not so with Mr. Torrano and with Carol Andreoli.”

Federici said he has been involved in Norwalk Republican politics since 1995, when a friend, Kevin Fitzgerald, asked him to be the treasurer on his campaign as a Common Council candidate. Fitzgerald won, and Federici went on the join the RTC and become District C vice chairman, when Torrano was chairman, he said. In 2001 he became RTC vice chairman he said, serving four years under Scialabba. Then former Mayor Richard Moccia asked him to be on the Parking Authority. He was told it would be a conflict of interest to be RTC vice chairman so he resigned, he said. He later was appointed to the Board of Estimate and Taxation.

Federici said that he didn’t take people up on their offer to run for registrar because, in part, he didn’t think it would be appropriate while Moccia was in office, as it would be a distraction.

“I wasn’t ready,” Federici said. “I just didn’t have the interest. Some of it had to do with putting the mayor on the spot, putting a race together through his administration. … Why ruffle it? And I wasn’t ready for it.”

Now that Moccia isn’t mayor he decided to go for it, he said.

“I thought about it,” he said. “I need something different. I’ve been in this mix, know the politics pretty good, know the people, a lot of friends in this room, let me give it a shot now. Let me try it, see what happens. If they say go ahead, I’ll put 100 percent of my ability into it.”

Federici is a printer, working at Professional Graphics, which, he said, is his brother’s business. He is a former member of the Sons of Italy, the South Norwalk Boat Club and a chess club, he said.

He told RTC members that he was “truly honored and humbled.”

“I appreciate the confidence you have in me to do the job as many of you know, when I commit to something I will follow through to the best of my abilities,” he said. “I have worked on many campaigns and quite frankly never had any vision of running for office but as they say, never say never, and felt this was the right time.”

Doyle Lyons later released a statement by email.

“Tonight the RTC members endorsed John Federici for the office of Registrar of Voters,” she wrote. “That is Democracy at work. Only the RTC voted tonight. We will bring this decision to the voters that have registered in the Republican Party. They will make the final decision, as it should be.
“I run on my qualifications and experience. I would hope to have a debate with Mr. Federici on his experience and qualifications also. The voters deserve that.”


28 responses to “Norwalk Republicans nominate Federici; registrar’s husband lets it fly”

  1. Don’t Panic

    Wow. Five minutes as the minority party and already the fur is flying.

  2. Carol Andreoli

    Obviously the source you quote saying “Andreoli was leading the charge” and went on to say Andreoli is the author of a letter going around, urging Republicans to vote for Federici” never read my may 17th letter. The letter was sent only to District A members, because as their chairman, I felt it was my duty to explain why I was not supporting one of our members. In no way does the letter suggest that anyone follow my lead nor does it mention Mr. Federici. I believe the last sentence sums it up “while some of you may not agree with me I hope that you will understand and respect my decision just as I will respect yours.

    As for leading the charge that is almost laughable as I was out of the country for several weeks at time of John’s announcement, had no prior notification, and at no time have I ever solicited votes for him. What is accurate is that I did vote for him last evening, I congratulated him and will continue to support him.

  3. Justsaying

    Don’t chairman stay neutral till there is an endorsed candidate. All the others have, why not Andreoli. By the way wasn’t it a paper ballot? So why the letter?

  4. Bruce Kimmel

    The job of registrar, in Connecticut, is a political plum that goes back to another era. This November, there will be two names on the ballot for registrar, one Democrat and one Republican, and both will win. It has nothing to do with qualifications. Technology has changed the nature of the job and, in my opinion, that office should be treated like any other city department — those in charge should have all the necessary qualifications, not merely the endorsement of a town committee. Unfortunately, Hartford, not Norwalk, needs to make the change.

  5. Oldtimer

    Karen is certainly well qualified and has been doing a good job for years. Federici is a nice guy, but hardly qualified. Makes me wonder who Karen offended, and how. During Moccia’s administration, she went way above and beyond, organizing parades, etc. She will be a tough act to follow when she RETIRES. If there is a primary, she is a likely shoo-in.

  6. Maryann

    Oh come on! Anybody that follows local politics in Norwalk knows that Karen Doyle Lyons is the biggest trouble maker around. She has been involved in so much controversy & butted heads with just about everyone there is. People run the other way just to get away from her in city hall and around town. She’s always has something negative to say about somebody. She should be thankful the local GOP put up with her this long. She should have been out of that position a long time ago for her lack of professionalism & her constant slander. Sounds like her husband has just as much of a fine even temper as she does. Let’s hope John Federici can bring back a consistent work ethic & level of professionalism to the “right” side of that office that it has been lacking for so long.

  7. Casey Smith

    @Oldtimer –
    “Federici is a nice guy, but hardly qualified.”
    I think I could have said the same thing about Stuart Wells when he took office. What so different about this?

  8. Don’t Panic

    @Bruce Kimmel,
    Stuart Wells does a fine job, and was endorsed by his party without challenge or controversy (again). The importance of this position to an efficient and fair democratic process cannot be understated and that is why it should be held by someone who is in touch with the political process. Turning the Registrar’s office into a city department runs the risk of an underfunded, lackluster performance like what we see of certain other department heads.
    @Casey Smith,
    The article is about the Republican endorsement. Why drag Stuart Wells into it?

  9. Mr. Ludlow

    Maybe party politics have changed a lot over time. So I guess it is believable (albeit laughable as well) that the loyal District A Chairwoman would write a letter advising her colleagues not to support Karen Doyle Lyons without any information that anyone else wanted the position.
    It makes sense that a District Chairperson would be so motivated by trying to find the best possible person for Registrar of Voters that she would gladly reject the incumbent without knowing who would take her place.
    I doubt I was alone expecting Ms. Andreoli, after claiming to have not supported John Federici, to have qualified her response with a: “Well, it all depends on what your definition of “support” is.” It was refreshing that at least she didn’t wag her finger at us and declare that “I did not have political relations with that man, John Federici.”

  10. rburnett

    Everyone knows what this is about; Torrano – a person claiming to be a veteran – told Ms. Doyle-Lyons she was being ousted because she did “too much for the veterans”. Nice!!! Check that story N.o.N. you’ll find it is true.

  11. LWitherspoon

    What compensation and benefits do Norwalk’s two Registrars receive?

    1. Mark Chapman


      The position of Registrar of Voters is covered by the contract with the Norwalk Municipal Employees Association and would receive the benefits that go along with that contract.

      In 2013, the registrars were paid:

      Karen Doyle Lyons (Republican registrar)– $53,245

      Stuart Wells (Democratic registrar) — $52,770

  12. Carol Andreoli

    Mr. Ludlow, It would behoove you to read my letter before commenting on it. The letter does not advise my colleagues not to support Karen Lyons. As stated above the letter was to explain my decision for not supporting her. My colleagues and I were well aware of John Federici challenging her. In fact, he recently addressed his intent at a District A Meeting.

    I have never denied supporting John Federici. I do indeed support him but I certainly did not “lead the charge” nor did I solicit votes for him.

    This is the last I will address this issue. Being criticized or disagreed with, is to be expected, when taking a stand on something. In fact I welcome other opinions . However, one would expect their critic to have accurate information.

  13. Hobbes.the.Calvinist

    Which of Mrs. Andreoli’s statements are we supposed to believe. In her fist comment she said that she “was out of the country for several weeks at time of John’s announcement, had no prior notification”. But later she says that: “My colleagues and I were well aware of John Federici challenging her. In fact, he recently addressed his intent at a District A Meeting.”

    So, she sends a letter saying she won’t support Lyons but that doesn’t mean she was supporting Federici. Really? She was going to abstain from the vote?

    I guess attacking Karen Doyle Lyons is more credible from someone just looking out for the best interests of the “party” instead of coming from someone supporting her opponent.

  14. LWitherspoon

    @Mark Chapman
    Thank you. Is that a full-time position?
    @Bruce Kimmel
    How has technology made election of Registrars unnecessary? Perhaps all the candidates should explain why we need elected Registrars. There is also the question of why there are Democrat and Republican Registrars but no Unaffiliated Registrar. As of 2005, Norwalk had 10,000 Republicans, 14,000 Democrats, and 21,000 Unaffiliated voters. The Unaffiliated voters far out number each “major” party!

  15. Grant

    Three posts on this thread have been eliminated because of our ban on sock puppetry, which earns an immediate ban.

  16. RU4REAL

    This is madness! Karen Lyons is a caring good person, a wonderful person to represent Norwalk period! For anyone to think otherwise they are fools! I tend to believe Ms. Lyons may have confronted you haters personally, or called out one of your Republican buddies when they did something wrong. She tells it like it is and some people don’t like that. To think she singlehandedly decreased membership is nuts! I think that blame can go to a few current party leaders and we know who they are, that is why no one wants to be affiliated with the party. The current support from Republicans of a few sitting city department heads, the arrogance of these same few department heads during the Moccia administration helped unseat him. Do you want the seat back? When will they figure out it’s not Ms. Lyons, they need to simply look in the mirror. “I have seen the enemy and he is us. Did I read South Norwalk Boat Club member regarding Mr. Federici?

  17. Robert J. Sodaro

    @Casey Smith
    In regards to your comment “I think I could have said the same thing about Stuart Wells when he took office. [That he was “…a nice guy, but hardly qualified.”] You couldn’t be more wrong in your assessment of Stuart’s qualifications.

    Before being elected, Stuart, as both a lawyer and long-time and very active member of the Democratic Party, was not only thoroughly knowledgeable of the spreadsheets, databases, and lists utilized by the Registrar’s office, he had access to and managed those lists for years for the Democratic Party prior to taking on the mantle of Registrar. He also took Moderator’s training and became certified as a Moderator so he would know how to run a polling place during an election. Further, he read up on the role of Registrar via State statutes, as well as reading numerous State Elections Enforcement Commission rulings regarding the position.

    Further, Stuart has, while in the position of Registrar, gone on to implement numerous streamline and cost-cutting procedures that have saved the City thousands and thousands of dollars over the years. He also took the lead in helping re-write and update the training procedures for Moderators and Poll Workers, as well as teaching other Registrars those techniques at various Registrar conventions and meetings.

    And while I’m on the subject, let me also say that not only is Republican Registrar, Karen Lyons, a model of efficiency but it has consistently been her level of preparedness and professionalism that has help keep the Registrar’s office running on an even keel for the past six years that I have been working as Stuart’s Deputy. She is through, and organized, and not only knows the State laws regarding Registrar’s duties, but is one of the senior-most trainers in the State for polling place Moderators.

    @Bruce Kimmel
    I’m also curious as to how technology has made election of Registrars unnecessary. Will the voters register themselves? Will the elections occur by general consensuses? Will the tabulator memory cards program themselves, and all of the various components required to run an election simply align themselves?

    There are some 44,000 registered voters in Norwalk; we are the sixth-largest city in the State with the third or fourth largest voter turnout year after year. These things don’t happen by themselves, they require a pair of full-time Registrars, and a full complement of full and part-time office workers, as well as regiment of workers to come out and help us on Election and Primary Days.

    In Norwalk at least, the job of Registrar isn’t a part-time position, or for untested novices who think that they can casually coast into retirement while shilling for their party. This is a serious job, as the registrars are tasked with the trust of the voters (all of them, not just the ones registered to their own party).

    State statutes only require that the two major parties be represented as Registrars, if a third party were to put up a candidate, or an individual were to petition to be on the ballot they would have to receive more votes than either one of the other two Major-Party candidates, to get elected, thus requiring all three to become Registrars. As the “Unaffiliated” voters are not affiliated with any party it isn’t as if they could elect their own candidate, as who is to say that any unaffiliated voter is affiliated with another voter. Needless to say, the two major party candidates also represent all of the unaffiliated voters in the city, as that is the job of the Registrars, to represent ALL of the voters in the city.

    Robert J. Sodaro
    Deputy Registrar of Voters, Norwalk

  18. Norewalk Lifer

    Thank you Mr. Sodaro, for your complete and concise post, this did more to educate me, than the article itself.

    I think I agree with your assessment of Mrs. Lyons, she has been nothing but helpful, and efficient every time I have encountered her at city hall, in fact, there are many who are helpful at city hall, but you don’t expect this;

    I too, agree that technology cannot take the place of the human element, I believe Mr. Kimmel puts too much faith in software, those of us in an industry that drives this technology, know better.

    Thank you again for the clarifications

    Norwalk Lifer

  19. Broderick I. Sawyer

    Thank you Mr. Sodaro, well spoken. I have known Karen for many years and she is a wonderful person and she treats everyone she meets like family. My impression of the current Registrars office is that everyone in there gets along well and they all work together year round for the citizens of Norwalk. This cohesiveness is a benefit to all of us, why change it?

  20. LWitherspoon

    @Robert Sodaro
    Thank you for the additional information. While I don’t speak for Bruce Kimmel, I don’t think he was suggesting that we not have registrars. I think his suggestion was that the City remove politics from the equation by ending the practice of electing registrars, and instead hiring them just like other municipal workers are hired. Am I correct that as Deputy Registrar, you aren’t elected, you’re hired?
    Since you understand in great detail what functions are carried out by our Registrars, I would be interested to hear your thoughts on exactly how Norwalk benefits from electing registrars. If a Republican Registrar is capable of serving Unaffiliated voters, why can’t an Unaffiliated Registrar serve Republican voters? I understand that state law requires the present system, but let’s set that aside for a moment. How could the status quo be improved?

  21. Casey Smith

    @ both Robert Sodaro and Don’t Panic.

    The statement was made that John Federici had no experience as a Registrar of Voters. My reply simply was that neither had Mr. Wells before he took the position. The same argument could be made for ANY new candidate that had not previously worked as a Registrar.

  22. Suzanne

    Mr. Smith, Did you read Mr. Wells qualifications in Mr. Sodaro’s response? They were extensive including knowledge of the inner workings of the Registrar through longtime volunteer experience. Mr. Federici has no such experience and, given a comparison, would appear to be unqualified for the office.

  23. Casey Smith

    @ Suzanne.

    I did in fact read Mr. Wells’ resume and yes, it is impressive. However, that is not the point. Simply put, the RTC has the right to choose a candidate for Registrar and they have chosen to endorse Mr. Federici.

  24. Oldtimer

    They have chosen alright, and in the process, have stirred up unnecessary conflict that will not be helpful to anybody in the party at election time. I cannot believe there is anybody who expects any benefit to come from attacking Karen Doyle-Lyons. To most of us reading about this it sounds very personal and totally not related to the primary goal of winning elections. In the past, the Republicans have been very good at keeping focused on primary goals and keeping these little personal issues away from voters they intend to engage. We get it, Pete does not like Karen.

  25. Robert J. Sodaro

    @Casey Smith
    There is a world of difference in having never served in a particular job, and not having enough experience with the actual job itself, but being entirely and thoroughly familiar with the functions of a job. When he took over as Registrar, Mr. Wells was eminently qualified to have been nominated to have served in that position.

    The State requires that each Registrar have a Deputy. I was appointed to my position by Stuart Wells.

  26. Norewalk Lifer

    @Oldtimer, you are spot on, that’s exactly the problem, personal vendettas, and that’s why the Republicans in Norwalk will continue to lose.

    Norwalk Lifer

  27. jillcooks

    Little to add except if the mean girls club is against Karen Doyle Lyons then I am for her! they don’t seem to care what is truly good for Norwalk taxpayers, just that they win…and by win I certainly don’t mean elections. Stupid stupid stupid. Maybe they should try kicking her out of the party…that usually works so well. tee hee

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