Peña, Watts tout youth-oriented, ‘unity’ campaign

NORWALK, Conn. – There’s a better way to spend state money in a campaign for the legislature, according to Norwalk legislative candidates Warren Peña and David Watts, who say they are making an impact in the community with their Citizens Election Program (CEP) grants.

State Rep. Bruce Morris (D-140) is using the $27,500 grant for high-priced consultants and mailers, but the Peña campaign is investing in youth, said Peña, who also said that if anyone is making the campaign about race it isn’t him.

“I’d rather invest our $27,500 into our community, the youth of our community to go out there and learn and see what we see as candidates,” Peña said. “When I walk down South Main Street and by the shelter you have a pile of dirt that you are breathing in, that folks that live in that area are continuously breathing if they have their windows open. They’re learning that those areas are full of blight. They’re learning that those areas smell like urine and marijuana when you’re walking down those streets and they’re walking down those streets with me. They’re seeing what I am seeing, so I think they are getting educated.

“There is nobody out there doing what we are doing, paying attention to the things we are paying attention to and making a difference in people’s lives the way we want to,” Peña continued. “When I say ‘we’ I mean Dave (Watts) and myself in this campaign and in this candidacy. There’s a lot of buzz out there within the politicos, I would say, and certainly it has carried over to some folks within this community that there is this perception of a black v brown divide. I believe that it is just a bunch of nonsense.”

Kevin Coughlin, campaign manager for the re-election campaigns of Morris, and Watts’ opponent, state Rep. Chris Perone (D-137), declined to respond to Peña’s comments.

David Watts campaign workers make their presence known last week on East Avenue.

Last Tuesday, drivers leaving Interstate 95 at exit 16 at about 7 p.m. were serenaded by a young woman chanting “Vote for Dave, vote for Dave.”

Watts said that was an “ice-breaking” activity. He had about 30 young Norwalk residents working for him and was giving them a break from going door to door, he said.

He said the campaign headquarters he shares with Peña at 39 Harbor Ave. was formerly occupied by a liquor store that closed some time ago. Now Watts and Peña are there, patronizing local businesses and bringing energy to the area, he said. “We’ve taken a neighborhood approach,” he said. “The neighbors have been happy to have us as neighbors.”

The pair held a block party at their headquarters Saturday. The Morris/Perone campaign headquarters are in the same Van Zant Street building in which Mayor Harry Rilling based his campaign last fall.

“We are the unity ticket,” Peña said. “David and I are out there showing and demonstrating how black and brown can work together and accomplish great things. We are breaking barriers, we are investing into the community. Let me tell you this: I have never heard of our opponents going out there and doing the things that we are doing here, working with the types of youth and kids we are working with. That is change. That is a different mindset, how to approach campaigns, campaigning, building relationships in the community, than I believe our opponent has done.”

Peña slammed Morris.

“He has mentioned to some of my friends that this is an African-American seat,” Peña said. “I beg to differ. I beg to differ with that. I believe that this is the seat of the person who wins the minds of the voters. I believe that this is the seat of anybody who can win at any point in time, that any person of any color can win, as long as you do the legwork, win the voters over and put in the type of work that is necessary to win a campaign. I resent things like that, but that’s the black v brown rhetoric that he speaks about.”

Coughlin said Saturday he would get a response from Morris to that comment. Nancy On Norwalk has not received one yet.

“I know they are furious with me, but I want to break up that mindset of entitlement,” Peña said. “This is not a black v brown situation, this is about who will do the work that is necessary to bring change and make an impact in people’s lives.”

Watts said he had no prediction about what will happen in Tuesday’s primary.

“It’s in the people’s hands,” he said. “I don’t know what my chances are. I always run scared. … People are being supportive, so you never know. It’s all about turnout.”


12 responses to “Peña, Watts tout youth-oriented, ‘unity’ campaign”

  1. Joanne Romano

    Sorry, have to comment here…If David Watts wants to represent me and my community why then have I not seen nor heard one word from his campaign? I live in East Norwalk and have never once seen hide nor hair of anyone representing his campaign. I will give you that I am a registered Republican but how do they know how I may or may not vote in an election? I have however received much information from his opponent and his campaign. As a matter of fact, I receive information monthly throughout the year with updates on what’s happening in Hartford. It would seem that my opinion of who is running to represent my district is of no concern to Mr. Watts. One should realize early on that their votes do not come from their party only. Residents may be looking for more from their candidates than party politics. One might assume that a candidate would reach out to all residents. You never know how much influence they may have with persons from another party. One may even believe that residents want to know what a candidate will do to represent them but I guess that is not the case here. I guess those of us in East Norwalk must guess what a candidates platform is and make an uneducated decision on Primary/Election Day. Not that I will be voting in the Democratic Primary since I am not allowed but whoever wins this Primary will be a viable candidate in the upcoming elections and it seems to me that at least one of these candidates has the foresight to reach out to all voters in advance of the November elections. Haven’t seen that here. I have never seen even one campaign worker on my street. Am I to believe there is not one Democrat that lives here? Candidates need to reach out to all residents, not just a chosen few. Remember one thing, things have changed and people no longer vote party line but vote for who they feel is the best candidate. Negative comments shall flow here but it doesn’t really matter since I am a registered voter and should be afforded the courtesy of knowing who may/may not represent me in Hartford. It’s a daunting task that is afforded each person who gets elected and I for one am a bit disturbed that a candidate would focus only on what is on their agenda. Keep in mind, once elected you represent All residents.

  2. Ms Ruby McPherson

    The youth is working Watts and Pena call center and ground work. Why? Because they want Back to School money. Don’t care if Pena or Watts win. Try asking a question when they call or stop by your door. Pictures looks all good, especially when most could be family

  3. OhNoNorwalk

    Wake up Norwalk. Seems like Watts and Pena are the same candidates.
    If either one get in I’m changing parties.

  4. EastNorwalkChick

    Joanne, I believe the Exit 16 campaign stunt is Watts’ must be his first foray over the river into E. Norwalk. I find it rather funny that they don’t realize that most of E. Norwalk commutes by train and by 7 PM the cars that they were serenading at Exit 16 are either going to the beach for a baseball game/concert or to Stews, not residents coming home from work.
    Ruby, yes it would be nice to ask a question or two if they stopped by my house….but they haven’t. Like Joanne says, we here on the east side of the river have not seen hide nor hair of the Watts campaign.
    So I guess apparently we here in East Norwalk, also those who live further up Strawberry Hill in the district, (because they haven’t seen anything either according to those I know in that area), do not garner Mr. Watts’ attention….our needs, our concerns must count to him. Only those on the other side of the river do….

  5. EastNorwalkChick

    Oops, should read ,”….must NOT count to him”
    Mark, we really need to be able to edit…LOL!

  6. Bill

    We taxpayers are funding this nonsense. What an absolute joke. Only in CT can two people of this ilk give the taxpayers money away for futile campaigns which are really just attempts to build their name awareness in the community…sickening

  7. Joanne Romano

    @ EastNorwalkChic…It’s really sad to see this type of shenanigans that have absolutely no impact on the turn out at the polls. Having run for this seat believe me, it takes more than a few well placed(or maybe not so much) kids at the end of 16 to unseat an incumbent. If he happens by chance to do so…God help us all!! But then on the other hand…imagine how well the council meetings will work without the constant dog and pony show! David knows I know what I am talking about. Again, with him it’s all about divide and conquer!

  8. EastNorwalkChick

    Joanne, you know yourself from running a campaign that you need garner as much support as you can from every person in the district as you can, regardless of political affiliation, race or cultural background. Even within the political parties, the divide and conquer strategy doesn’t work it will back fire in the end. You need to make your case, persuade people with your ideas in order to get them to stand with you.
    I beginning to believe that Bill is right, this is just a political stunt for name recognition for the future….yes, the council meetings would go a lot smoother, but we need someone in Hartford that is going to represent US, not themselves.

  9. Joanne Romano

    Unfortunately this is not how some choose to garner respect. 1 faction of a community is not the way to go. I enjoyed many years in the political arena until….and I shall leave it at that because people already know the ending!

  10. Joanne Romano

    Anyone want to enlighten the candidates to the fact that these are not African-American seats nor Latino seats? These seats belong to the best candidate no matter their race, color or religion …when did a political seat become race related? Am I to understand that there are no white, Indian, Greek, Italian or any other nationalities living in the 140th District? Hmmm, when did that happen?

  11. peter parker

    Its simple, and almost over. Today the voters of the district will decide the outcome.

  12. Norwalk Cares

    Shameful hyperbole from the “only” candidate who cares- Warren “My Campaign is a Non-Profit” Pena. Let’s hope the voters of South Norwalk see through the rhetoric that doesn’t match his autocratic SoNoCC “leadership”.
    As for Mr. Watts, I find it hard to imagine any one taking him seriously in Hartford. Little life experience, questions about his residency and questionable antics when he is losing suggest someone who will be relegated to comic relief rather than giving him a seat at the table.
    Unlike Pena, Watts seems to have his heart in the right place- sadly, it is not connected to enough maturity to help make those dreams a reality.

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