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Norwalk District E Democrats urged to vote today in primary

Screengrab from a website posted by District E Democrats seeking election to the Democratic Town Committee.

NORWALK, Conn. — District E Democrats will head to the polls today for an improbable election, an unheard-of primary for seats many had not been aware of.

The contest for the district’s Democratic Town Committee posts follows a surprise fervor in January, as 400 Democrats cast ballots in a caucus that generally generates a fraction of that; two years earlier, 95 votes were reportedly cast. As this year’s caucus approached, DTC members hashed out amongst themselves who would be on the District E Committee, including a few newcomers, unaware anyone else was interested. But a group of Rowayton fans of the late Mike Barbis came forward at the last minute, winning eight of 11 seats.

The eight DTC candidates then collected enough signatures to force a primary.

Democratic Registrar Stuart Wells said the ballot will feature the 11 caucus winners at the top and the eight challengers at the bottom, thusly:

  • Aimee Malloy Ableman
  • Anne Allen
  • Ed Camacho
  • Todd R. Deklyn
  • Sara J. Ingrassia
  • Camille Josephine Legnani
  • Benita A. (Watford) Raleigh
  • Jody A. Sattler
  • Alyson W. Smith
  • Sarah S. Wayland
  • Stuart W. Wells III
  • Paul B. Barringer II
  • Tina L. Duryea
  • Priscilla Feral
  • Mary Ellen Flaherty-Ludwig
  • Colin A. Hosten​
  • Esther Murillo​
  • Lucia C. Rilling​
  • Kevin M. Tepas​

It will be held from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. March 1 at these polling places:

  • Brookside Elementary School, 382 Highland Ave. (District E1)
  • Rowayton Elementary School, 1 Roton Ave. (District E2)
  • Fox Run Elementary School, 228 Fillow St. (District E3)

 

District E, as shown in a city Councilmatic District map.

Only one of the surprise candidates doesn’t live in Rowayton: Todd Deklyn, a Brookside resident who serves as Rowayton Fire Department Chief. The DTC-inspired candidates say their slate represents “all precincts of District E.”

The alternative slate was said to be organized by Jody Sattler, who ran for the BoE last fall on the Independents for Norwalk-line although she reportedly approached the DTC first. It developed after the DTC’s District E Committee recommended Mary Ellen Flaherty-Ludwig for the Barbis seat over Sattler, during a Dec. 1 meeting.

Anne Allen and Sarah Wayland were registered as unaffiliated voters until Dec. 2, the day after the contentious District E meeting, when they became Democrats. Sattler was unaffiliated until June 2019, when she became a Democrat. Three members of Sattler’s slate who were previously registered Republican didn’t win the caucus and aren’t on Tuesday’s ballot.

On Monday, the Sattler candidates, who call themselves “the original eight” on their website, released this statement:

“After nearly two months of campaigning and outreach to win seats on the District E Democratic Town Committee, our group of 8 candidates is invigorated and inspired by the energy and support we are receiving from residents of District E and across Norwalk.

“Before early January, many registered Democrats were either not aware of the DTC or did not know of the important role it plays in not only supporting Democratic candidates, but also NOMINATING, or in some cases, APPOINTING candidates to hold elected office.  We are proud of the success we have had in informing other District E residents about this process and in some cases, increasing the Democratic voter registration numbers.

“Throughout this Primary campaign, we have strived to build on our communication through our website cdernorwalk.com (Committee for District E Representation) and our networks of other citizens, parents, teachers, students, coaches and volunteers.  If we haven’t met you yet, please reach out to us.  We believe in our grassroots approach and feel that word of mouth and personal references can be just as effective as expensive, professionally created mailings and automated phone calls from politicians.  Our opponents claim they represent a balanced approach to representing District E, but the scope of their efforts to win seems extremely out of balance. The opposing slate raised nearly $10,000, with 31.5% of their itemized contributions coming from non-Norwalk contributors.  Additionally, the estimated cost to the City of Norwalk for running a Primary is upwards of $10,000 and that does not include police charges.

“We have started a conversation that many of the established District E DTC members did not wish to have in the first place and asked questions they are not comfortable answering.

“Our 8 candidates listed below ask all District E Democrats in Brookside, Harbor View, Rowayton, West Norwalk, and Village Creek neighborhoods to seek new voices to represent you on the Democratic Town Committee.  Don’t forget to vote on March 1st as every vote counts.

  • “Aimee Malloy Ableman
  • “Annie Allen
  • “Todd Deklyn
  • “Sara Ingrassia
  • “Camille Legnani
  • “Jody Sattler
  • “Alyson Smith
  • “Sarah Wayland”

 

An email sent to multiple DTC-organized candidates drew two replies.

“I am proud of the work our slate has done,” Tina Duryea wrote Monday evening. “We have reached out to every District E Democrat we could manage in this short time, regardless of where they stand.  We spent a large amount of time simply raising awareness to all Democrats that the vote was happening.  We raised funds so that we could make calls, send postcards to voters and create information packets which we distributed while door knocking. We put out yard signs.  Everything we did was to raise awareness about this election to ALL Democrats in E.”

On Tuesday morning, Galen Wells wrote:

“My only observation is that all of the group running on line A, except for three of the people on line A running with Democrats for a Balanced  District E,  who call themselves the original 8, are from the same neighborhood.  They are all from Rowayton, they are all white, most are in the same age group and are women with children in Rowayton elementary, Roton or BMHS.  They all share the same point of view.

“The Democrats for a Balanced District E, which includes three on Row A, come from all of the neighborhoods of District E;  4 from West Norwalk, 4 from Rowayton and 3 from Brookside, Harbor view and Village Creek.  They are old and young, men and women, include a member of the LBGT community, three latino candidates and two African Americans.  There is no question that they represent the broad diversity of the district.  And, most important, they all are veterans of many Democratic campaigns and have served the city in many capacities.  They have worked hard to elect Democrats which is the purpose of the DTC.  For more information please check out our web site districtedems.com

“Whatever the result today, I hope the women who are running as the original 8 stay involved.  They are good people who no doubt mean well.  They just need to gain a little more experience supporting Democrats and get to know the rest of District E.”

 

“Democrats for a Balanced District E” state on their website:

Screengrab from a website posted by “Democrats for a Balanced District E.”

“District E’s caucus had an unprecedented turn out and interest in membership. Many candidates expressed their intent to run the night before, making it difficult to let all Democrats know about the interest in DTC membership from District E. Uncontrollable circumstances like the Omicron variant, extremely cold weather and a short time frame for voting in the caucus, made it difficult for some Democrats in District E to vote in person.

​“As a result, many of us collected signatures for a primary to ensure that Democrats in District E get the full and fair election they deserve to elect their DTC members.

​“We are a slate of eleven that includes eight challengers consisting of Democrats who live in all precincts of District E. Eight of us will appear on Row B of the primary ballot, and along with three endorsed Democrats (winners on Jan 10) who will appear on Row A, represent a balanced slate for District E, which comprises many neighborhoods — including Brookside, Harbor View, Rowayton, Village Creek, and West Norwalk – to complete our slate of eleven.

“Full Slate: Democrats for a Balanced District E:
  • “Paul Barringer, West Norwalk, challenger (Row B)
  • “Ed Camacho, Village Creek, endorsed (Row A)
  • “Tina L. Duryea, Rowayton, challenger (Row B)
  • “Priscilla Feral, Rowayton, challenger (Row B)
  • “Mary Ellen Flaherty-Ludwig, Brookside, challenger (Row B)
  • “Colin Hosten, Village Creek, challenger (Row B)
  • “Esther Murillo, Rowayton, challenger (Row B)
  • “Lucia C. Rilling, West Norwalk, challenger (Row B)
  • “Kevin M. Tepas, Rowayton, challenger (Row B)
  • “Benita Watford Raleigh, West Norwalk, endorsed (Row A)
  • “Stuart Wells, West Norwalk, endorsed (Row A)”

 

 

Democratic Town Committee Chairwoman Eloisa Melendez said “every Democrat in district E” should come out for the primary. “I want to see high turnout.”

 

Updated, 1:26 p.m.: More information.

One comment

Piberman March 1, 2022 at 9:40 am

Has any candidate pledged that if elected they’d demand that our well funded failing public school system properly educate our children so they meet CT Edu Dept graduation standards ? And that our highly paid public school administrators be held to account for our failure to meet CT Edu standards ?

Or is it just more of the same ? Ever higher taxes funding a failing public school system that embarrasses all of us. Aren’t there any candidates or elected officials who demand a much more competent public school system in Norwalk ? Party officials seemingly indifferent too ? Challenge too difficult ? Then step aside please.

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