Norwalk Town Clerk: Two factors cost Peña

Norwalk election 2013 057
Common Councilman Warren Peña (D-at large), right, chats with Democrat Travis Simms Tuesday at Columbus Magnet School.

NORWALK, Conn. – The four-way Democratic primary may have cost Democratic at large Common Councilman Warren Peña his re-election.

Pena missed the deadline to file for the Working Families Party endorsement because he was out campaigning for District D Chairman Vinny Mangiacopra, who was running for mayor, he said. Both Pena and Town Clerk Rick McQuaid say that Peña would have beaten Bruce Kimmel, a member of the Republican caucus, in Tuesday’s election if he had gotten the endorsement. It wouldn’t have given the Democratic caucus a majority on the council, though.

Peña got 491 WFP votes in the 2011 election.

Kimmel, who is registered as a Democrat but was running on the Republican ticket, got 7,465 votes in Tuesday’s election. Peña got 7,285 votes. Kimmel had 180 votes more than Peña. Peña would likely have beaten Kimmel if he had filed for the WFP endorsement, Peña and McQuaid said.

However, if Peña had gotten a substantial number of WFP votes he would have pushed Democrat Sharon Stewart out of fifth place and into sixth place, meaning she wouldn’t be on the council. Therefore, it would still be eight members in the Republican caucus (Kimmel is still a registered Democrat) and seven members in the Democratic caucus.

Stewart got 426 WFP votes. None of the last five vote-getters got Working Families votes.

“The Working Families Party did their work again,” McQuaid said. “There were people who won because of that Working Families Party. Sharon Stewart was helped by Working Families. It hurt Warren.”

“After analyzing the #’s, if I received the 491 votes from the WFP (like I did in 2011), I would have been in 2nd place,” Peña wrote on Facebook. “The WFP, I believe, would have put me in 1st place, which is pretty telling. I am humbled by the experience and have learned so much (DO NOT miss applying for the WFP).”

He got a reply from Nathalia Gonzalez.

“Warren I am very proud of you,” she wrote. “You put other people before your own needs and unfortunately you sacrificed something very important to you. But you live and you learn and the most important is that it showed how humble you are and that is what the Lord sees and I know that he has bigger and better things for you in the future.”

McQuaid said another issue may have cost Peña votes.

Peña’s name was right below that of Hempstead, who has been on the council since the ’80s and is regarded as a shoe-in. There are people who go to the polls who don’t realize that picking five  at-large council candidates doesn’t mean choosing one of the two names that are paired together, McQuaid said. They picked either Hempstead or Peña, he said.

“He didn’t draw the best straw in lining up against Doug Hempstead on the ballot,” McQuaid said.


19 responses to “Norwalk Town Clerk: Two factors cost Peña”

  1. EveT

    Another factor is the NEON / SNCC conflict. Warren Pena has been at the center of that conflict and some voters may have seen him as a polarizing figure.

    As for Doug Hempstead, it’s sad when people complain about “the same old politicos” and then they re-elect someone like him who has been a “politico” for all these years.

  2. SoNoCC

    The city’s loss is SoNoCC’s gain. Warren Peña, as Chairman at SoNoCC, has shown tremendous leadership in implementing change here at SoNoCC. He has stood his ground to the bullying tactics of the “former” management at NEON and has recruited a new management team here at SoNoCC to execute a well-structured business plan that will allow us to better serve the needs of our community. As we begin our Capital Campaign with $100,000 already accounted for through the CDBG award, we are counting on Warren to spearhead our Campaign with a goal of raising an additional $500,000 through institutional and corporate foundations and through private donors. Our goal of providing $4 million annually in community service value against a $265 thousand operating budget would provide the community with a $15 of service value for every dollar raised.
    Yes, Warren is a no-nonsense leader who is willing to fight for what he believes. We are fortunate to have him in our corner. And for those of you who might be wondering how much he makes here at SoNoCC? We’re a 501 (c) 3 non-profit organization. The Chairman and all Board members are volunteers!

  3. Bill

    @SoNoCC, how many people would be working at SoNoCC with only a $265,000 budget? Sounds better than Neon, but still would like to know.

  4. SoNoCC

    @ Bill:

    We anticipate having four employees and a very strong team of volunteers and strategic partners. Also, please understand that our budget is for administrative and operational expenses. Operational expenses would include utilities, insurance and building maintenance expenses in our 10,000 square feet of first-floor space at 98 South Main Street.

    We invite you to join our team of volunteers!

  5. @SoNoCC:
    Is it true you only cater to latinos/hispanics in SoNo and not the whole community?

  6. LWitherspoon

    How did you calculate that SoNoCC is providing $15 million in value to the community by spending only $265,000?
    Another factor in Mr. Pena’s loss may have been his participation in the gamesmanship of the Democratic caucus, including the string of resolutions that had no practical purpose other than to play “gotcha” with the opposite party. Since Pena ran citywide, he may also have been hurt by his statements in support of the mosque proposal for Fillow Street.

  7. SoNoCC

    @ LWitherspoon:

    SoNoCC stated that our goal is to provide $4 million (not $15 million) annually in community service value against an operating budget of $265,000. That equates to a 15 to 1 return in value.


    Although the origins of SoNoCC date back to the 1960’s under the auspices of St. Joseph RC Church, with a mission to “Assist the needs of the growing Hispanic population in South Norwalk”, we are now an unaffiliated 501 (c) 3 non-profit organization. We believe in the Chinese adage:

    Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day.
    Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.

    With that, please allow us to share our Mission, Vision and Core Values:
    • Mission
    As an informational resource and service center, to enhance the quality of life among the local Latino community and the greater South Norwalk community at-large while celebrating our diverse cultures, through educational and economic initiatives, informational seminars, recreational and cultural activities.
    • Vision
    To be recognized as a leading local Agency, championing the needs of our Latino community and the greater South Norwalk community at-large, advancing its educational, economic and physical well being, helping its members achieve their highest potential as contributors to society.
    • Our Core Values
    The South Norwalk Community Center is committed to honoring these core values in fulfilling the goals of our mission and vision statements:
    Dignity and Respect

  8. LWitherspoon

    How are you calculating the dollar amount of the “community service value” provided by your organization?

  9. SoNoCC

    The dollar amount of the “community service value” is what the regular retail price of that service would be, without subsidies.

  10. LWitherspoon

    Please, can you give an example?

  11. SoNoCC

    OK, through a collaborative arrangement, a 30-hour SAT College Prep Class that retails for $1099 per student is being offered at just $20 per student. The “community service value” is $1099 per student, even though the students are just paying $20 apiece.

  12. @SoNoCC
    Hmm, that is quite the bargain for the SAT course!
    I think all the Juniors of Norwalk would benefit from that offering – why isn’t this publicized?

  13. SoNoCC


    The Guidance Offices at BMHS and NHS were notified. Our lack of resources limits the participation to 20 students for this program. Our collaborating partner pre-qualifies the students, along with the guidance offices at the high schools.

  14. Is one of the pre-qualifications being that the youth be of hispanic or latino descent?
    Then you DO cater to only the hispanic group.
    In the prequalification, is there some check box to make sure everyone has their citizenship papers, including the parents?
    Didn’t think so…

  15. SoNoCC

    No. Being of hispanic or latino descent is not a pre-qualification. We do not only cater to the hispanic group. There are not any check boxes to make sure everyone has their citizenship papers, including their parents.
    FYI, Irishlady, my Dad came to this country more than 60 years ago without papers. I’m Italian. My brother is CT’s former Commissioner of Education. This is the land of opportunity! Education is the key. Ignorance and prejudice often go hand in hand. Some of us can avoid the pitfall, others can’t. You words are filled with both ignorance and prejudice. Shame on you.

  16. Joanne Romano

    After reading this thread one has to wonder the mindset here. I would hope that those at Sono CC realize there are many non Hispanic/minority persons in Norwalk and surrounding areas living at or below poverty that can also benefit from programs such as the SAT program…try getting private foundation grants. Sin up for Grantgopher.com there are thousands…you just need someone who knows how to research and apply for them. Private Foundation grants are program specific and definitely will boost the enrollment capability. Also, City Briefs in the Hour is free! Post your program there. These kids are our future and the future of our town, state and country…they all deserve the best education possible!

  17. @SoNoCC
    My words are not filled with ignorance – they are filled with what to expect from selected groups – it is the way of the US. Why else would I be writing such a thing if it weren’t for the fact that EVERYTHING is written in dual language – English, which is what information should be in and Spanish, which pertains to a select group.
    No, no ignorance on MY part and no prejudice… Just the writing on the wall and the taxes from my pockets.

  18. SoNoCC

    @Joanne Romano & @Irishgirl:

    Thank you both for your input. We DO appreciate the interest and attention our programming initiatives have received. Rest assured that SoNoCC is pursuing every avenue available to make programs like the SAT College Prep course offering more readily available to those who otherwise cannot afford the opportunity. This particular class, with a maximum of 20 students, was made possible through the generosity of a certified-SAT instructor who offered her services pro bono. A nationally recognized SAT instructional organization also contributed the course materials and licensing permission gratis. The guidance departments at NHS and BMHS were notified of this opportunity and the only criteria for participation were promising college bound students with a respectable GPA, demonstrated financial need and a willingness to put in the time and effort to gain the benefit of the course. The resulting class of students is consistent with the makeup of Norwalk’s Public School population.

  19. Joanne Romano

    Glad to hear that but please look at the grants page I sent you..there are more opportunities available

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