Rowayton Dems celebrate removal of ‘witch’ McCarthy

Election night 15-1103 Norwalk 035
Common Councilman John Igneri (D-District E), left, grins Tuesday after looking at a text from rival Rowaytonite Common Councilman David McCarthy (R-District E). Board of Education member Mike Barbis, center, and Councilman Bruce Kimmel (D-At Large) also react.
Election 2015
The aftermath

NORWALK, Conn. — There was no mistaking the joy from a certain camp of Rowayton Democrats as the voting results came in.

“The witch is dead!” Board of Education member Mike Barbis said Tuesday night, after most Democrats had left the election night party, about the resounding defeat suffered by Common Councilman David McCarthy (R-District E).

Democratic Town Committee member Nora King went on to describe the strategy used to take down McCarthy. A short while later, Democrats were marveling at a text McCarthy sent to Common Councilman John Igneri (D-District E).

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A Tuesday night text from Common Councilman David McCarthy (R-District E) to Councilman John Igneri (D-District E). McCarthy’s phone number has been blurred out.

“Congratulations,” McCarthy wrote to Igneri. “You’ve done nothing to deserve this, though. I hope you’ll change that.”

McCarthy declined comment Wednesday.

McCarthy and his Republican running mate, John Bazzano, easily won the vote from West Norwalk residents, but were overtaken by Igneri and his Democratic running mate, Thomas Livingston, when the results came in from Brookside and Rowayton.

“There was a concerted effort in a number of people in the Rowayton area to make sure that Dave didn’t get elected,” Republican Town Committee Chairman Pete Torrano said Wednesday. “He seemed to be the target and I am wondering if some of that had to do with someone not getting appointed to the Zoning Commission and Dave taking the blame for that.”

“We totally focused on Rowayton,” King, the someone in question, said Tuesday. “We called in every person we knew. Friends, everyone. We were calling people up until 7:30 at the polls, getting them out to vote. We just knew it was the only way to win.”

When King was voted down for reappointment to Zoning, she said she would work on a strategy to take down McCarthy.

“We knew we had to make it with the Rowayton vote,” King said.

“We beat him in Brookside,” Igneri said. “A combination of Brookside and Rowayton, he couldn’t make up for it in West Norwalk.”

Barbis was coy when asked who he meant by “the witch” in “The witch is dead!”

Board of Education member Mike Barbis shouts "The witch is dead!" Tuesday at the Hilton Garden Inn.
Board of Education member Mike Barbis shouts “The witch is dead!” Tuesday at the Hilton Garden Inn.

“I would like you to take a guess,” Barbis said. “There is someone who is a candidate who did all sorts of things, and played all sorts of games. All I can say is: It’s divine justice.”

Former Zoning Commissioner Mike Mushak, a Golden Hill resident, said a lot of campaign signs had disappeared in West Norwalk. They would be replaced and then disappear again. One resident didn’t want campaign signs but they showed up on the property, he said.

McCarthy played politics with the “heated staircase” last January, Mushak said.

McCarthy initially said he would vote against the $270,000 Redevelopment Agency project for a new staircase at the intersection of Martin Luther King Drive but was not present, due to a family concern, when the item came to a vote at the full Council meeting.

“I cannot fathom spending $250,000 to replace a perfectly good staircase with a perfectly good staircase that’s going to be heated,” he said, at the first committee meeting on the topic.

The money would fund much more than stairs, Redevelopment Agency Senior Project Manager Susan Sweitzer said at the time.

A text from Common Councilman David McCarthy (R-District E) draws a reaction Tuesday from Mike Mushak, Common Councilman John Igneri (D-District E), Board of Education member Mike Barbis and Councilman Bruce Kimmel (D-At Large).
A text from Common Councilman David McCarthy (R-District E) draws a reaction Tuesday from Mike Mushak, Common Councilman John Igneri (D-District E), Board of Education member Mike Barbis and Councilman Bruce Kimmel (D-At Large).

There are now two pedestrian crosswalks on Flax Hill Road that are equipped with impossible-to-overlook signs, with warning lights that flash when a button is pushed. NancyOnNorwalk has seen pedestrians using them, and cars stopping to allow them to pass.

Mushak said he has seen this, also. Mothers with toddlers in strollers can now cross the road safely, he said. McCarthy did not read the materials that accompanied the request for funds for the project before opposing it, he said.

“I think the biggest offense of that whole episode was that McCarthy did not first consult with the South Norwalk council members before trying to kill that much-needed project, revealing an arrogance that is unacceptable of any elected official,” Mushak said in a Wednesday email. “That is one reason he was not elected this time. You can only go around throwing folks under the bus for so long before they catch on and realize this is a game of dirty politics that is being played that does not have Norwalk’s best interest in mind, only the best interest of the person playing the game.”

Some Rowayton residents have condemned what McCarthy “did to” King, a 20-minute speech on the Council floor detailing his opinion on why she shouldn’t be reappointed to Zoning.

“He pointed out facts,” Torrano said.

“Having spoken to a couple of people on the Zoning Commission now, including Democrats, that there is a general feeling that they are happy with the Commission as it sits now,” Torrano said. “There have been a couple who have been on there in the past who have created problems for them.”

That was Mushak and former Zoning Commission Chairman Joe Santo, a Republican, he said.

“What they are finding out is they are able to get along a lot better and do things without the animosity and the sniping that had gone on before. So I think the Zoning Commission is the better for it,” Torrano said.

The final tally showed Livingston, the newcomer, with 1,697 votes and Igneri with 1,647. McCarthy got 1,536 and Bazzano, the only West Norwalker in the group, 1,418.

Common Councilman-elect Tom Livingston (D-District E) reacts Tuesday to the news that he has won the election.
Common Councilman-elect Tom Livingston (D-District E) reacts Tuesday to the news that he has won the election.

Livingston and Igneri were all smiles Tuesday night.

“I am so excited,” Igneri said. “We worked our butts off. We knocked on every door and Tom Livingston, my running mate, knocked on almost every door in West Norwalk. It paid off. It’s a triumph for civility and bipartisanship.”

Livingston said not every door, but a lot. He was door knocking every day for the last 45 days, he said.

Igneri said Bruce Kimmel and Kay Anderson also did a lot of door knocking. Livingston called it a team effort.

“I am overwhelmed,” Livingston said. “I am gratified, I thank all my supporters and neighbors and friends. I couldn’t do it without them. I look forward to serving with John and the rest of the Common Council. I think we can do great things for Norwalk.”

King said she and Barbis had done an Irish jig in his kitchen before making their way to the party.

“Thank God,” King said. “Norwalk won tonight. We won.”

Igneri said, “That’s right.”


30 responses to “Rowayton Dems celebrate removal of ‘witch’ McCarthy”

  1. John Hamlin

    The city didn’t vote in the Democrats as much as they voted out the “we oppose zoning reforms and love the status quo” Republicans. “”I think the Zoning Commission is the better for it,” Torrano said.” Really? Really? The Zoning Commission is better because it has done nothing to reform zoning or manage the planning and zoning department? No wonder the city voted out the Republicans. Wake up and smell the incompetence, Republicans!! Maybe you’ll have a better chance in 2017. And stop acting like school yard bullies.

  2. Watt the F?

    A tiger never changes its stripes, even in defeat. Good riddance to a sore loser.

  3. Oldtimer

    Too bad some people have to learn the hard way you don’t get elected by offending people. It is possible to disagree without attacking. McCarthy works in sales, doesn’t he ?

  4. Tony P

    So McCarthy gets run out of office for bringing up real concerns? God, I love politics. People get the government they deserve, so buckle up and watch the show!

  5. Nora King

    Tom Livingston and John Igneri are both amazing people. They have integrity and the business skills needed to take Norwalk forward. They also are men that make decisions based on the end goal and with civility. They worked hard and went out and campaigned with the voters. I am just glad that Norwalkers agreed that they are the right men for the job!

  6. Casey Smith

    Mr. Barbis, up until reading about your “victory” shout, I actually respected you. Too bad…

  7. Rob

    Anytime you read Nora Kings name it’s embroiled in some sort of controversy so you see she is very much like Mr McCarthy. And anytime you have someone coaching/coercing people on who to vote for you get what you deserve – kinda like Watts.

  8. Anna Duleep

    Even *I* felt a twinge of sympathy for Councilman McCarthy at the beginning of this article. Then I saw that text; it reminded me why I felt such joy for Rowayton & Brookside Tuesday night. Councilman McCarthy chose to speak far longer than necessary to explain the reasons why he opposed Nora King’s reappointment to Zoning. Councilman McCarthy chose to accuse his opponents not only of “political sign abuse,” but also a far more serious charge: elder abuse. The purported victim emphatically denied both allegations (elsewhere on this site); it became clear that Councilman McCarthy had twisted a rather mundane set of facts into a Lifetime movie script. Whatever the strategy employed by the Rowayton team, the final choice nevertheless remained with District E voters. Perhaps, even in West Norwalk, some voters were turned off by Councilman McCarthy’s chosen campaign strategy.

    Congratulations to Tom, John, Mike, and all their volunteers! They earned their victories through hard work.

  9. Wineshine

    Way to go Norwalk voters. Running a popularity contest, and carrying out a vendetta is NOT what is good for this city. I actually had a modicum of respect for Nora King before this episode. Who’s the real sore loser here?

  10. piethein

    So, finally let me put in two cents and set the record straight about Dave McCarthy. When McCarthy ran for Commissioner in the 6th a few years back, he approached me and complimented me about being really smart, little did he know, and since I was and am an involved Democrat, he, and I do not make this up, wanted me to be his personal spy on whatever I could pick up in party meetings. Good Luck and Good Bye Dave.

  11. LWitherspoon

    McCarthy and Watts both gone from the Common Council = huge win for Norwalk

  12. Wineshine

    Wow. Being a reader and supporter of NoN, I have to express surprise at the libelous comment by “piethein” being allowed to appear. If, in fact, it really happened, this report is, at best, nothing more than hearsay. No matter your afffiliation, if you don’t agree, well, you’re just wrong.

  13. LWitherspoon


    Are you and/or Dave McCarthy claiming that it never happened?

  14. piethein

    So Wineshine you are actually calling me a liar. The truth must hurt about Mr McCarthy. […]

    This post was edited to conform with our policy.

  15. Wineshine

    Well, piethein, I don’t know you and maybe you are, maybe not. Not sure, but again, we have nothing to go by but your word and that makes it hearsay. Grab a dictionary. Spend some time.

    1. Mark Chapman


      In general, hearsay is something reported by a third party, and, when dealing with something controversial, we don’t allow it. But this is coming from one of the parties involved in the conversation, so it is not hearsay. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/hearsay

  16. piethein

    Mark, thank you so much for the explanation as to what hearsay is, setting the record straight. Sometimes hearing the truth hurts, so be it. No I didn’t make this up. It happened when McCarthy was running for Commissioner in the 6th TD. He approached me at the entrance to Pinkney Park during a Rowayton event there. No, I don’t lie, I leave that up to others.

  17. Martin Lawlor

    @ LWitherspoon: you hit the nail on the head! Good riddance to both of them.

  18. John Bazzano

    @piethein – it truly is unseemly for someone to make that kind of accusation and not have the courage to state your name. So whether you are a liar or not is something only you know…….character assassination from behind a fake name certain puts you in a category of another type.

    @ mark chapman – thanks for the definition. But really, allowing that kind of accusation on your website from an anonymous individual is real bush league. I expected more from you.

    1. Mark Chapman

      @John Bazzano

      We allow anonymous comments, for better or worse, and we had to crack down on candidates and officer holders posting that way because of some of the worst were coming from people who were in appointed or elected positions. We know, based on email address, who made the statement. If it came from a third party it would not be allowed.

  19. I know who Piethein is. He looked me in the eye and told me this story 2-3 months ago, for attribution. It did not fit into the story I was doing and I did not use it. If he chooses to put it behind a pseudonym now I am not going to out him, but he stood behind it.

  20. John Bazzano

    Judge , jury , and executioner. I stand by my comments, under my name.

  21. Wineshine

    Mark thanks for the moderation. John Bazzano seems to make the same case. I neither indict, nor support Dave McCarthy’s actions, as we’re not close friends, nor are we in contact on any regular basis. The claim made by piethin though I felt crossed the line of what’s appropriate. I don’t know that person either, but like some other posters here, accusations seem to take on a life of their own, and become their reality. Hearsay or not, it was a private conversation, if it occurred, and no witnesses means it lacks substantiation. This is an objective, irrefutable opinion that any court would agree with. If the poster claimed that McCarthy likes Twix over Three Musketeers, that’s one thing, but harsh and libelous claims like this serious business. Then again, it’s your ball and you can do what you want.

    1. Mark Chapman

      @ Wineshine

      I certainly respect your well-stated, calm opinion. Woudst all commenters take that tone! As for the term “libelous,” it is thrown around by many like the word “criminal” by certain local former officials. To be libelous, something must be demonstrably and knowingly false. For the very reasons you state, that would be a tough case to make. And remember, there were accusations against Bill Cosby and the now-former mayor of San Diego that were dismissed by many or most people as rumor and libelous, until more people came out of the woodwork with similar stories. You never know. But if no one in the media had been willing to tell the story, the women in those cases would likely have stayed quiet. Of course, Cosby is still denying; former Mayor Filner paid the price for his grope-happy mayoral stint. And please, no one should think for a minute that these situations are on the same level. The concept of reportage is the same is the point. And in this case, it was not our reportage, it was a commenter. Many comments here and, especially, on other sites have been more damning than this (not involving these same people).

  22. Keep it Real 100%

    Come on folks, you ALL know former councilman McCarthy has NOT been a nice guy and has insulted many of our fellow residents regularly, not to mention many untruths he has thrown out.
    So now he is out, we do not need to speak of him or Watts again, everyone knows this is good for Norwalk.
    @Mr. Bazzano
    I feel you are a good guy after meeting you, stay out of the fray you do not want anyone else’s stink on you for the next time your name appears on a ballot.
    Please do not try to defend the indefensible because someone is a friend, since we all know friends can be fools too.
    I will also tell you that having your name on the same lawn sign as him may have hurt more than helped your campaign, next time go it alone.
    Not posting with your real name(thank you NoN)has nothing to do with someone’s opinions being justified, since we have documented proof in this particular instance on the nastiness of this particular public servant (thank you Mushak), just keeping it real 100 percent.

  23. Oldtimer

    One of the few times I observed McCarthy in action was at a Democratic event where he was working the room and eating the free food while most of us were there to support Harry Rilling’s first campaign for mayor. Seemed strange then and still does.
    I predict he will be back, hopefully a bit more civil, but still extremely competitive.

  24. Steve Colarossi

    When did we decide that name-calling, even in response to discourteous behavior, was ok? When did we decide that our elected officials would be held to a standard far lower than we expect of children on a playground?

  25. Get you facts straight Dave

    Steve – I think Dave started the name calling with web sites making false allegations, hi jacking people’s email addresses, sending out flyers with false information, driving by people’s houses and trying to video tape them….holding personal grudges and let’s not forget the constant intimidation that went on with folks over yard signs.

    We all know he is a friend of yours but he is the politician that lowered the standards and certainly lacked civility for years. Norwalk is now a better place with him no longer being a Councilman.

  26. Watt the F?

    Yes, it’s despicable that McCarthy would stoop to such vindictive behavior. Hopefully this is the last we’ll see of him in public service. Now that he and David Watts are no longer throwing bombs, I’m hopeful we’ll see more progress made on the Common Council.

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