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Victorious District E Dems react to Tuesday’s robust primary for obscure DTC seats

Poll workers, Tuesday at Fox Run Elementary School.

NORWALK, Conn. — Norwalk Democrats have issued statements in reaction to the results of Tuesday’s District E primary.

Colin Hosten said he’s been elected chairman of Democrat’s District E Committee. Hosten, also Board of Education Chairman, secured his reelection to the Democratic Town Committee with 477 votes in the primary. He wrote:

“This is literally democracy in action. The Democratic party is a big tent, with room for multiple diverse perspectives on a range of issues. The democratic process gives everyone a chance to make their voices heard, and then we all come together to do the work of helping to elect Democrats here in Norwalk, in Connecticut, and nationally. This is not about winners and losers — we should all be proud to belong to a party where so many people are willing to serve! District E is clearly home to the most vibrant and energetic group of Democrats. I offer my sincere gratitude and congratulations to every single candidate. This can sometimes feel like an exhausting process, but now that the process has played out, I look forward to working with everyone involved, even when we may disagree — or especially when we may disagree — on helping Democrats up and down the ballot succeed, for the sake of our City, our State, and our Country; indeed, for the sake of democracy, itself.”

 

How we got here

The unprecedented primary stemmed from controversy over who would be appointed to the Board of Education to serve the time left on the late Mike Barbis’ term. A group of people felt it should go to Jody Sattler and attended a District E Committee meeting, expecting to be able to vote on the appointment. Instead, they learned that under DTC rules, they had to have been present for three District E meetings to have voting rights, a bylaw established to prevent the equivalent of ballot stuffing.

A Tweet from Norwalk Democratic Town Committee member Tina Duryea.

This gets confusing, but the DTC has district subcommittees. Anyone can attend their district’s Committee meeting and after attending three times, can vote. The DTC itself is separate from the subcommittee.

In 2015, the DTC voted to expand to include 11 members from each district, up from seven, in an effort to get more people involved.

The actual DTC members, separate from district subcommittees, vote on DTC matters, including endorsing candidates and appointing replacement volunteers for open BoE and Common Council seats. Individual district Committees recommend candidates or replacement volunteers, allowing anyone who has attended three times to vote. The DTC members, who are elected, make the decision.

The DTC appointed Mary Ellen-Flaherty Ludwig to represent District E on the Board of Education in the seat formerly held by Barbis.  At that meeting, Norwalk Democratic Town Committee Chairwoman Eloisa Melendez invited Sattler supporters to get involved by attending the district meetings. The DTC held an information session to explain the processes involved. Sattler then organized a slate of 11 Rowaytonites to run for the DTC; eight won the January caucus, only to learn that their victory could be challenged in a primary.

On Tuesday, more than 800 District E voters overturned the results of the January caucus, where more than 400 ballots were cast. The 11 Democrats who had expected to win the January caucus without a challenge, a slate developed to include representation from all areas of District E, won a resounding victory.

Winning were:

  • Benita (Watford) Raleigh, 536 votes (a caucus winner, new to the DTC)
  • Ed Camacho, 519 votes (a caucus winner, current DTC member)
  • Stuart Wells III, 504 votes (a caucus winner, current DTC member)
  • Colin Hosten,​ 477 votes (current DTC member)
  • Mary Ellen Flaherty-Ludwig, 471 votes (current DTC member)
  • Tina Duryea, 471 votes (current DTC member)
  • Kevin Tepas​, 470 votes (current DTC member)
  • Paul Barringer II, 456 votes (new to the DTC)
  • Esther Murillo,​ 456 votes (current DTC member)
  • Lucia Rilling​, 451 votes (current DTC member)
  • Priscilla Feral, 430 votes (new to the DTC)

 

‘Who knew?’

Flaherty-Ludwig said Wednesday that she’s been elected recording secretary for the District E Committee.

She wrote:

“Who knew that a Democratic Caucus could be ‘primaried’?

“In District E many folks on both slates discovered a Primary could happen. In the process, friendships were strengthened and friendships were formed on each side and between each side. I look forward to invigorated and expanded District E meetings this year. We can all work together to elect Dems locally, statewide and nationally. All hands on deck for this important work.”

 

Tina Duryea wrote:

“I am so proud of the hard work our slate put in to talk to voters, inform them of the election and earn their support.  I am also impressed by the commitment and work put in by the other side.  We all win when more people are involved and educated on local politics.”

 

Priscilla Feral wrote:

“I’m a diehard Democrat, and yesterday standing outside Brookside School, we saw determined voters who knew the truth when they heard it –and were motivated to support our balanced slate as a testament of what benefits good Democratic candidates in government. That itself was rewarding.”

 

Former District E Chairwoman Galen Wells, who didn’t run for the DTC this time, wrote:

“I too am very proud of the hard work of all of the people on our slate.  I also hope that all of the challengers stay involved in District E.  When they first appeared I invited them in although I think that all they heard was that we wanted to nominate someone other than their candidate for the B of E.  There is always room for enthusiastic people willing to work for Democratic candidates and I look forward to getting to know them and to working with them in the future.”

 

Members of the Rowayton slate, who called themselves “The Original 8,” did not reply to an email offering them a chance to comment.

One posted on Facebook, “This is definitely not the end and we will continue to work to support NPS and the children of Norwalk!”

21 comments

Mark Sattler March 3, 2022 at 10:58 am

Colin- your quote from the article “This is literally democracy in action.” If you can, explain to us how overthrowing the results of an election is Democratic? I’ll quote you again – “…gives everyone a chance to make their voices heard”. Those voices were heard in January and people voted for change. But you, Rilling, Livingston, Eloisa and other Democratic leaders didn’t like the results! I look forward to your explanation.

Ben G March 3, 2022 at 2:05 pm

I could not agree anymore with Mark. I would absolutely love to hear Colin’s rebuttal. I just wouldn’t hold my breath because I would certainly die before Colin had the courtesy to give one.

John O'Neill March 3, 2022 at 2:06 pm

I promised I wouldn’t comment anymore on this matter. I guess as I’ve gotten older my discipline has gone out the window. I apologize if I’m being redundant.
Quite honestly, the quotes in the article are a bunch of nonsense. When those quoted talk about “slates” it seems like a bizarre joke. Shouldn’t voters have voted for individuals as opposed to “slates”? Just think about that for a second: It’s unreal… If I didn’t know better I would think the above story was the election of 4th graders at Fox Run School.
I find that sad and even pathetic in a way. Just one man’s opinion, but I’m guessing there are many many Norwalkers who agree with me. I wish they’d step up just as the “slate” of candidates who were out-manipulated in this travesty did.

Ed Camacho March 3, 2022 at 3:17 pm

@MarkSattler, the right to primary the results of a caucus, convention or nominating meeting is fundamental to the democratic process. It is the law, which is the essence of democracy.

Tartuffo March 3, 2022 at 4:27 pm

“Democracy in action”???? unless you think that whenever you decide you don’t like the results, just do a primary or find an excuse to get a second chance. So you get cousin Jim, uncle Jo, bring grandma Sue back from Florida so they get out to vote for your so-called “true long-time Democrats-pals”. They can rescue the plan of keeping the status quo. Why not? I increasingly feel that this city, this state for that matter, is doomed. We are turning into a dictatorship with one party, one thought for all, and the rest, move away because you have no voice! This is dangerous for Democracy, and not Democracy at work as you state. This is what happens in dictatorships, but here, it’s with the excuses of a law or whatever may suit the situation. Call it what it is: the mayor and his cohorts did not like the results and decided to challenge them. So sad!

Seriously? March 3, 2022 at 5:05 pm

Norwalk’s DTC wasn’t interested in “democracy in action”; they were interested in seating the party insiders.

I don’t know Mark Sattler, and I’m guessing that he may related to Jody Sattler, and so he likely has a bias. However, I am not related to Jody, nor am I even one of her friends — and I don’t live even close to Rowayton. However, I am someone who has observed her intelligence, her energy and her focus for serving not only Rowayton, but all of Norwalk. Her record is clear, and the DTC should have embraced her, but it chose someone no one knew for the vacant BOE seat, someone who had never done a thing for the NPS and who doesn’t have children in the system, and then it attacked Jody and her colleagues after their surprising caucus win for the DTC seats.

I know several of the others who ran and won seats in the caucus, until they were unseated by the primary, and among them are some movers and shakers. But the DTC prefers to keep the status quo, rather than to invigorate the Norwalk Democratic Party.

It’s interesting that there were repeated references to Jody’s and her colleagues’ being from Rowayton and references to their race, as though those are disqualifiers. Then there have been references to the “balanced slate,” without any reference to anything that any of them has ever done for Norwalk and without any reference to any ideas they have for District E and for the city.

Colin Hosten is now the chair of District E, and he will no doubt be as unimpressive in that role, as he is as chair of the board of education. His statement, “This is not about winners and losers — we should all be proud to belong to a party where so many people are willing to serve” is ironic. For him and others on the insiders’ slate, it surely was about losing, and they were indignant when the voters at the caucus shocked them by voting in the “outsiders.”

DTC, continue the stagnation, and continue the blind allegiance to Harry Rilling and Bob Duff, and see how that fares for you in the future. More to the point, see how it fares for the citizens of Norwalk.

Bobby Lamb March 4, 2022 at 1:09 am

Thank goodness the voters turned out and smartly chose candidates who have a broader understanding of democracy. From the sound of these comments the losing slate does not believe in or understand elections or the democratic process. Candidates are endorsed by their parties at either conventions or caucuses, after which the candidates who were not endorsed have an opportunity to primary. At the primary all members of the party have an opportunity to vote for their preferred candidates in a primary election. This is the case in every election at every level for all political parties. This is no different from the countless primaries we have all participated in from Common Council up to President of the United States.

Bob Schumann March 4, 2022 at 7:48 am

Fact: 800 voters in District E came out to vote in the primary. The Balanced slate beat the 11 Rowaytonites who tried to pull a fast one in the caucus back in January by a . . . 3 to 1 margin. . . . Once people living in District E heard what went down in the caucus back in January, they came out and let their voices be heard in the ballot box. Never have so many voted for a DTC race. 800! The only commenters on Nancy on Norwalk who have a problem with this primary, besides those who lost, are the usual gang of Republicans commenters on this site who actually use their names and those Republicans posting under aliases for obvious reasons. I have a feeling by the way some of the posts are written who some might be but, not being sure, I of course, can’t say. Nonetheless, the ones complaining who are known Republicans based on their past posts betray why the interlopers who attempted to pull a fast one at the caucus were primaried and ther overwhelming losses in the primary speak loudly and clearly as to what the people living in District E think about it.

‘Nuff said.

A Shame March 4, 2022 at 10:47 am

I am a loyal Democrat (just not involved locally) and I was really disheartened by this whole process. It is a shame that the more established folks couldn’t figure out a way to work with these energized newcomers and instead made them feel like “outsiders” in their own party. The theme that kept coming up was that there are local NPS parents who felt like their concerns weren’t being heard. So the party reacted by putting forth a slate that didn’t include a single current parent of an NPS student? Flaherty-Ludwig said friendships were formed between each side and I sincerely hope that’s true. At some point, they would be wise to reach out to the supporters of the alternate slate and try to understand their concerns.
The Democratic party seems to be having trouble with suburban parents across the country (VA election as an example). Adding more of their voices on a local level should help our efforts in state and national elections. I don’t see what this primary did beside turning off 100-300 of them.
I can’t remember how many times I’ve read in the comments in NoN (from Democratic leaders) that people should just join the Republican party if they don’t like something. That is inappropriate. Healthy organizations need to be a little introspective but this District E DTC seems to have slipped into serious group think.
I am guessing they didn’t realize how galling it was to many parents that the first time they’ve been allowed to set foot in their kids schools in 2 years was not to see a performance or meet with a teacher, but for this. Or to hear that $10K was spent on this election when there are at least 10 projects for NPS teachers on Donors Choose for <$1K that can't get funding.
I was impressed by most of the candidates across both "slates" and think it's a great reflection of our party that we can get that caliber of people to volunteer & get involved. But the way it was framed by the people who lost in the original caucus was not helpful. I really hope to hear that there will be some kind of outreach and support to District E parents and that the folks who have run things locally for years stop acting like new volunteers need to "pay their dues", "know their place" and stop questioning the status quo before they are welcome.

John O'Neill March 4, 2022 at 2:43 pm

Does anyone else find it interesting that these Dems use the terms inclusive and interlopers at the same time? I’m not a rocket scientist, but find that confusing.

Patrick Cooper March 4, 2022 at 3:20 pm

I’m often torn on how to feel about people who strongly “identify” by affiliation to a political party. In some cases, it’s sympathy. In other cases – it’s contempt.

Independent thought and decisions dependent on fact is replaced by strict adherence to party orthodoxy and ideology. By definition, it’s limiting.

We have too many party-1st people in Norwalk – on both sides. It prevents meaningful dialogue, and leads to minority rule. @Bob Schumann – we get it – you identify as a democrat. In spite of how you choose to brand me – I identify as thoughtful & intelligent. There is no difference in the two major parties. Red & Blue. Crips & Bloods. Both gangs – both bad.

Bob Schumann March 4, 2022 at 5:18 pm

“In spite of how you choose to brand me – I identify as thoughtful & intelligent”

I’ve always thought of you and John O’Neill as a couple of stable geniuses.

“There is no difference in the two major parties. Red & Blue. Crips & Bloods. Both gangs – both bad.”

That’s definitely a false comparison to most people who aren’t stable geniuses like you and can descern what is moral and ethical.

Bob Schumann March 4, 2022 at 6:20 pm

You know Patrick, perhaps since you feel that all parties are the same, you should convince Jody Sattler and her “gang” of gypsies to re-register back as Republicans a few weeks before the Republicans caucus for the RTC. I think they will be more comfortable back at their ancestral home anyway.

John O'Neill March 5, 2022 at 8:38 am

For those readers who might not have caught the subtle dig from Mr. Schumann, the stable genius comment is a Trump reference. I will not drop to his level other than to say that anyone who reads NON understands we are not Trumpettes. As far as morality, I let my life’s actions speak for themselves. IF you’d like to compare resumes, I’d be more than happy to sit down over a beer and discuss..

Patrick Cooper March 5, 2022 at 12:37 pm

I try not to get into foolish tit-for-tats on NoN – it doesn’t appear stable nor genius. But Bob, you just couldn’t help yourself – it hit you, perhaps triggered you – a partisan spasm – so you came back to take a swipe at Jody Sattler. Revealing.

Let’s see, Jody is a moderate Democrat, who joined the D party in 2019 (switched from “unaffiliated”) and is recognized within District E as a poised, credible & qualified individual to at minimum run for a BOE seat. Motivated largely because like a good many parents in this town – she is not all that thrilled with an NPS where 50% are preforming below grade level despite ever increasing budgets. With 14/15 CC seats, and all BOE seats – Harry’s insider D’s – they own that failure 100%. And you can claim the high moral ground? Pshaw. That’s blind partisan hackery.

To any “independent” thinking NoN reader – let me translate for you: Jody Sattler – a moderate democrat – a “DINO” – is not left leaning enough for radical Blue-Bob. My point exactly.

Hyper partisan politics practiced by both national political parties has everything to do with the divide we see in our city, our state, and our nation. Used to be the middle of the road was for yellow lines, successful legislators, and dead armadillo’s – now – it’s just empty. Ask yourselves – has partisan politics made Norwalk better?

Bob Schumann March 5, 2022 at 6:50 pm

You say you “try not to get into foolish tit-for-tats on NoN, ” yet any time, like on this thread, when you get called on your,to put it as nicely as I can, inaccuracies. . .

You always do.

It doesn’t matter.

Anyway…

You, yourself refer to Jody Sattler a “- DINO -”.
“DINO” stands for
– Democrat In Name Only –
Nonetheless, she cynically registered as one before she started running for various offices so voters might think she really is one. The mere fact that only you, John O’Neill and other Republicans who comment here on NoN support her so voraciously, betrays the fact that she did become a “Democrat In Name Only” who re-registered as one to try to fool voters into thinking that she really believes in the principles and values that the Democratic party stands for. It didn’t work.

Twice

You describe her as “recognized within District E as a poised, credible & qualified individual to at minimum run for a BOE seat.”
A more accurate if overly generous description would be that she “is qualified at maximum to run for a BOE seat” since she only got as far as running for a seat before losing rather decisively.

Bob Schumann March 5, 2022 at 7:19 pm

Oh! John, I forgot about you! Ahhhhh . . .
While listening to you recite your resume sounds like loads of fun, let’s don’t and say we did.

Jo Bennett March 7, 2022 at 6:42 am

Bob Schuman, folks like you are ne of the the reasons this lifelong Democrat has crossed party lines in state and local elections over the past few years. Keep up the disservice, and we’ll take note of the shenanigans.

Patrick Cooper March 7, 2022 at 10:42 am

@Bob – “inaccuracies”?

I’m not a republican. Look it up.

If you don’t agree with Bob – you are the enemy. The definition of partisan. Everything that’s wrong, personified in a dude whose very name is backwards forward.

Bob Schumann March 7, 2022 at 2:46 pm

Jo Bennett, To give context to your post. You run for office with Brinton’s wolves in sheep’s clothing. Folks like you are why folks like you can’t even get close to being elected.

“Keep up the disservice, and we’ll take note of the shenanigans.”

Ooooooh! LOL!

Bob Schumann March 7, 2022 at 3:12 pm

“The definition of partisan.”

par·ti·san
/ˈpärdəzən/
Learn to pronounce
noun
1.
a strong supporter of a party, cause, or person.

Yep. That’s me all right.

“Everything that’s wrong, personified in a dude whose very name is backwards forward”

If being a supporter of a political organization that stands for things I believe in is wrong, as the great philosopher, Luther Ingram once said, “I don’t want to be right.”

You’ve definitely got me on your last point. I have no defense for and cannot deny the fact that Bob spelled backwards is… I’m too ashamed to say it.

I am done throwing my tats at your tits, Patrick. You may have the last word.

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