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Watts accuses Norwalk state rep and Dem registrar of collusion

Norwalk District A Chairman David Watts, right, organizes ballots for counting as Andy Garfunkel and Elsa Peterson Obuchowski look on.

Correction, 11:46 p.m.: David Watts lives in state Rep. Larry Cafero’s district. 

NORWALK, Conn. – An incendiary charge followed the peaceful voting by Democrats Thursday night in Norwalk District A: Common Councilman David Watts accused state Rep. Chris Perone and Democratic Registrar Stuart Wells of colluding to change the dynamics of the district’s representation on the Democratic Town Committee (DTC).

Perone tried to prevent Watts, the district chairman, from getting re-elected to the DTC, Watts said. He tried to prevent Eloisa Melendez from winning as well, he said.

“I was notified that Chris Perone worked with several members of the district to try to purge us out,” said Watts. “We beat back his little coup that he tried to pull in the ward.”

Both Watts and Melendez won election easily.

Watts has formed an exploratory committee, David Watts 2014, and said he is considering a run for state representative. Although he lives in the legislative district currently represented by state Rep. Larry Cafero (R-142), sources say Watts is gunning for Perone’s seat. Watts has not confirmed or denied that.

The mood was upbeat and friendly earlier in the hallways of Kendall Elementary School as the latest Norwalk election drew to a close. Watts’s wife and mother-in-law checked voters in; two people made it in just before the 9 p.m. closing time, but one voter who arrived minutes later was turned away.

Then things began to sour.

Andy Garfunkel watches votes be counted Thursday in Kendall Elementary School. Behind him is Kathleen Watts.

Former Town Clerk Andy Garfunkel grew frustrated as Watts, who has been District A chairman since Garfunkel resigned the post in the run-up to the Democratic mayoral primary, read off ballots too fast for Garfunkel and the three other Democrats tallying the results to keep up. The result was a recount, as the tallies did not match. It was obvious who had won, but the vote numbers were widely disparate.

The second tally resulted in a much better result, but the voting numbers for two of the winning candidates did not match. It was 9:45 p.m. Garfunkel wanted to count again. Watts refused.

“It’s my birthday and I really worked hard to produce this but I want to go home because it’s my birthday,” he said.

After Garfunkel and others left, Watts voiced his feelings about Perone.

Perone had showed up to vote in District A, he said. Wells had changed the district lines, he said; although Perone lives on East Rocks Road and was a District D councilman for years “Stuart took it upon himself as the registrar of voters to move the line and make him a part of District A,” he said.

Changing a municipal district line requires a charter revision, Watts said.

“I honestly think this was some dirty politics and the voters of District A rejected it,” said Watts. “I just feel that, as the chairman, we have always been autonomous and we always work together. But to give him an advantage in a potential primary. … Stuart Wells did this to give him an advantage. I am overwhelmed because we weren’t prepared to take this on and we had to organize in one day’s notice.”

Unsuccessful DTC candidates Elsa Peterson Obuchowski, David Jaeger and Garfunkel worked with Perone, he said, declining to give details.

“I am going to formally request what was the decision to move Chris Perone into a district that he has never lived in,” he said. “… I wanted to support all the incumbents. That was my goal, to try to get all the incumbents to work it out. Some person wanted to change the dynamics of the district and we had to go through this.”

Neither Perone nor Wells responded to late-night attempts to contact them. Wells has previously told NancyOnNorwalk that it had been widely believed for years that Perone lived in District D. Recently it was discovered, upon closer examination of the district lines, that he is in District A, he said.

Obuchowski expressed surprised that she had been accused.

“I decided to run for DTC because I would like to help voters be better informed about why we have a DTC, when DTC meetings take place, what issues the DTC deals with, why voters should support Democratic candidates, etc.  I can state unequivocally that I am not aware of any sort of ‘coup’ engineered by anyone,” she wrote in an email.

Garfunkel confirmed Perone had come to Kendall.

“I didn’t know if he was in the district. I was wondering why he was there myself,” he said.

Garfunkel said he supports Perone, but, “I have never been involved in any sort of organizational thing. I don’t know of any kind of organized coup.”

He did see organization of a different type, he said.

“It was obvious that people were told how to vote. The ballots were in a particular order, I noticed that as we were counting them,” he said.

He went on to slam Watts in a followup email.

“I have always been of the opinion and very vocal that when there are an abundance of prospective candidates for the district committee, that the already-elected officials should yield to other active members of the party, thus allowing for larger voice of membership,” he wrote. “The elected Dems already have a recognized voice within the ranks. It also helps in growth and development of future candidates. It appears that Mr. Watts disagrees. By his statements it is apparent that Mr. Watts is only looking out for his own self-interests and overlooking the long-term goals of the party.”

Comments

26 responses to “Watts accuses Norwalk state rep and Dem registrar of collusion”

  1. YankeeC

    Nothing like the pot calling the kettle black….I”m hearing Watts organized voters in collusion in both Districts A and C. What hypocrisy!

  2. NorwalkVoter

    Watts lies? Shocking! He even contradicts himself in this story.
    He can never win graciously. Something always causes him to become the ‘victim’. He’s usually saying that someone did, exactly what David always does himself. Sad that there are young pols who look up to him as an example to follow. He disgraces the Dems at every opportunity.

    And since when does a candidate get to count the ballots? Never mind letting his family do it… He violates all rules and then plays the victim. Why does Dist A let him do this ???? Do they fear his retaliatory, irrational behavior??? Lots of examples of this out there.

  3. Watts trying to rush through the democratic process just to celebrate his birthday; wow, he is really acting like a baby.

  4. WFM

    @ NorwalkVoter

    “Wells has previously told NancyOnNorwalk that it had been widely believed for years that Perone lived in District D. Recently it was discovered, upon closer examination of the district lines, that he is in District A, he said.”

    What authority did Mr. Wells have to change a councilmanic line and does the council have to approve?

    Maybe, before Mr. Wells changed the line he could have brought all the stockholders together, before this action.

    Did Mr. Wells change other lines or this is a special case?

  5. Don’t Panic

    Unbelievable. If anyone would do their homework, they would know that the line defining the district at the boundary where Mr. Perone lives has been in question for years. It makes sense that a final call was made after a recent census caused the state level districts to be redrawn. Mr. Wells does not make that decision on his own.

    It would be nice if this party spent more time trying to swell it’s ranks and carry out the business of representing it’s membership instead of continually devouring the earnest, hard working individuals who step up to serve.

  6. nwkprobate

    Just wait until you see what Watts has his up his sleeve next

  7. we the people!

    The Chairman, worked hard to support all the incumbents. However, some felt that being elected to the Council or BOE, should disqualify you from the DTC.

    Watts, is a good community organizer and Andy is a great guy. Work it out for the love of the city.

    Congrats, to all the winners city-wide.

  8. EveT

    Thank you, I agree: “It would be nice if this party spent more time trying to swell its ranks and carry out the business of representing its membership instead of continually devouring the earnest, hard working individuals who step up to serve.”

  9. LWitherspoon

    So Mr. Watts and his family counted the ballots, they apparently rushed through the counting so quickly that others present couldn’t verify the results, and then Mr. Watts refused to recount the ballots a second time when differing tallies arose. Message to the voters: Mr. Watts’s birthday takes precedence over the democratic process.
    .
    Ironically this news never would have seen the light of day were it not for Mr. Watts’s bizarre and unsubstantiated accusations against Rep. Chris Perone.
    .
    It appears that Mr. Watts continues to be his own worst enemy. Meanwhile, Watts’s supporters continue to be evasive when asked the simple question of whether or not Mr. Watts is currently employed anywhere, and when he last had gainful employment. Are these the actions of a serious candidate for State Representative?

    1. Mark Chapman

      @LWitherspoon

      Actually, the part of the story to which you refer WOULD have appeared even without the accusations. It was my decision not to include it in both stories. Nancy originally detailed it in the general caucus story, but it really needed to be in the story that focused on Mr. Watts.

  10. TKLaw

    This is such a sham it’s disgusting. Anyone who wants to deal with the … exhibited by ‘L Boogie’ Watts ought to find a hobby of some kind.

    @NorwalkVoter: spot on with the Victim analogy. I hate the thought of this wanna be representing any of us on any level!

    (This comment has been edited to conform with our policy)

  11. Watts the matter with you

    Technically the southern tip of East Rocks south of Glendenning is in district A. But what isn’t clear here is how could it have ever been mistaken? This hasn’t changed in 100 years. Everyone looks foolish here.
    .
    from Section 1-2.1
    .
    District D, to consist of that portion of Norwalk lying north of a line beginning at the Norwalk-New Canaan town line in the center line of Carter Street and continuing southerly to and along the center line of Ponus Avenue to the intersection of Beau Street and continuing southerly along the center line of Beau Street to the intersection of Ingleside Avenue, and continuing easterly along the center line of Ingelside Avenue to the intersection of Spring Hill Avenue and continuing northerly along the center line of Spring Hill Avenue to the intersection of Ponus Avenue and continuing easterly along the center line of Ponus Avenue to the division line of the First and Fifth Taxing Districts; thence northerly along the center line of the Silvermine River to the intersection of Broad Street; thence easterly along the center line of Broad Street to the intersection of Main Street; thence southerly along the center line of Main Street to the division line of the First and Fifth Taxing Districts; thence easterly along the division line of said taxing districts to the intersection of Rainbow Road and continuing northerly along the center line of Rainbow Road to the intersection of Buttonball Trail; thence easterly along the center line of Buttonball Trail to the intersection of Jarvis Street and continuing northerly along the center line of Jarvis Street to the intersection of West Rocks Road; thence southerly along the center line of West Rocks Road to the intersection of Glendenning Street; thence easterly along the center line of Glendenning Street to the division line of the First and Fifth Taxing Districts; thence still easterly along the division line of said taxing districts to the center line of Newtown Avenue; thence northerly along the center line of Newtown Avenue to the intersection of Murray Street, thence easterly along the center line of Murray Street to the Westport Town line.

  12. Watts the matter with you

    State law is difficult to follow. It would be very interesting to find out what the statute of limitation is on election fraud. How many millions in approved spending was authorized by Perone while he may have illegally occupied his council seat?

  13. LWitherspoon

    @Mark Chapman
    .
    Thank you for correcting me.
    .
    Do the DTC bylaws permit a candidate in a district election to count the ballots himself, with the help of his family? Considering the potential for accusations of a conflict of interest, did election observers verify that the names called out by Mr. Watts were actually marked on the ballots?
    .
    What were the different vote tallies?

  14. anon

    Here are the rules from website:”
    5. Ballot Count and Availability: The Chairperson of the caucus shall appoint from two (2)
    to five (5) tellers to count the ballots and all ballots shall be made available for a recount if a question
    arises as to the validity of the count. “

  15. anon

    The rules say that the district leader serves as caucus chair, but looks like David Watts should not have been counting ballots.

  16. Don’t Panic

    @Watts the matter with you
    Municipal district lines (A, B, C, D & E) and state district lines (142, 143, etc) are not the same. This technical clarification does not make his representation in Hartford “illegal”.
    Regarding Section 1-2.1, take a straight edge and draw those lines yourself on a map. You’ll find that sometimes these lines will clip a property or run right through a home. That’s not the only district border that is open to interpretation…it’s just the one that happens to affect Rep. Perone, which makes a great headline.
    I repeat, this party should focus on trying to increase participation and carry out the business of representing its membership instead of continually devouring the earnest, hard working individuals who step up to serve.

  17. YourDaddy

    Norwalk needs people with real experience and qualifications who choose to make time to serve the public good … NOT people with no experience who have never held a real job and spend all their time promoting themselves (a/k/a David Watts). I’d love to see Watts challenge Chris Perone in a primary. Perone would win in a landslide. Well, unless only Watts family members count the votes!

  18. YourDaddy

    Oh, and today’s my birthday!

  19. Osgood Schlater

    Totally shocked that David Watts, a Common Council Member and the District A Democratic Chair,would insist on celebrating his own birthday instead of making sure that a fair election had taken place. If I were a Democrat in District A, I’d be darn-tootin’ sure to call for a new election. This is about as brazen an act as can be found in recent history. It is clear that Mr. Watts is incompetent, to say the least, and dishonest to boot. It is abundantly clear that the only coup was engineered by Mr. Watts himself, who first misrepresented his rivals to the voters and then incredibly acted as a vote counter, just to make sure that he would come out on top. This violates the correct procedure for a district election in which the the chair begins the meeting at 7:30 sharp (Watts jumped the gun), explains the rules (see below)then reads the names of the nominees who officially presented themselves for election, then asks for nominations from the floor. After closing the nominations, the chair calls for nominations of the election officials: a moderator, a checker, and a secretary to record the process. Then ballots are handed out to voters who live in the district and identify themselves by street and name. Each voter votes for seven candidates and puts his or her ballot in the box. At 9 PM, the moderator declares the election over, and under his or her supervision, the checker counts the votes, tallying not only the votes cast for each candidate but making sure that no one voted for more or less than seven, which would mean the vote is not counted, and making sure that the total number of votes cast is the same as the number of voters times seven. In the case of District A, there was a discrepancy of five votes out of forty-three. Not only that, but the Chair (himself a candidate) had his mother and wife count the votes along with himself, thus following none of the above procedures and violation the concept of fair elections. In addition, Mr. Watts, campaigning outside the premises just before the vote, spoke loudly about how there was a cabal conniving to vote him off the Committee. In such an election rigged by the District Chair and supervised by him, it is difficult to have honest and fair results, and it speaks volumes about how this particular politician operates and will operate in the future. I would urge voters in District A to petition the State Democratic Party to intervene and schedule another election. Hopefully they will purge Mr. Watts from the DTC and bring his political career to a mercifully short end.

  20. David Watts did not count votes. Neither did his wife.
    Kathleen Watts counted voters.
    Andy Garfunkel and David Watts counted the ballots together after they were taken out of the ballot box. Then they all went into David Watts’ hands. He read the votes off. Garfunkel, Carolyn Fuller, David Jaeger and Dwain Omar King each had a piece of paper with all the names on them, marking next to each name as a vote was announced. In this way they counted votes.
    Garfunkel and Fuller gave up as they could not keep up with the speed with which Watts read names.
    I am going to write a follow-up. It will be posted tonight.

  21. WFM

    All,

    Watts read off the names and the votes were counted by 5 other candidates.

    1. 43 people voted in this election
    2. The checkers numbers were matched against the total number, in the box
    3. Watts, read the names and all the candidates counted the votes
    4. The results were counted twice, however one candidate wanted a recount for the third time.
    5. It was expressed, after counting twice, the outcome was most likely to remain the same.
    6. The difference was who came into 3rd or 4th and not who came into 7th or 8th place
    7. Several voters were turned away because, they were not enrolled in the Democratic party.

    Here are the results

    Fuller 40
    Garfunkel 13
    King 32
    Melendez 36
    Miklave 36
    Murray 37
    Obuchowski 19
    Serasis 32
    Watts 35

  22. Watts the matter with you

    @Don’t Panic. C o u n c i l s e a t. At what point did I ever say his House seat? Emotional outbursts don’t make for good government. Let’s stick to the facts please. This wouldn’t be the first time elected officials were oblivious to the very laws they are supposed to stand up for, so I can cut him some slack there.
    .
    Who cares really? The interesting thing is going to be watching how much mud Watt’s can stick on Perone this year and if Watt’s will actually attend some of his committee meetings now that others might be watching. Will he flourish or flounder? Get your popcorn out.

  23. Don’t Panic

    @watts. Nothing emotional and not an outburst. Statement of facts. You are correct in that I misread your past to mean his Rep seat since the entire passage referred to state law and he is currently a state Rep.
    .
    To address the very thoughtful point though. I would posit that the only dollars spent that would Mayer would be the ones in which the vote was decided by one vote and Mr. Perone was one of those votes.

  24. Watts the matter with you

    @DontPanic. I don’t know Perone and I’m sure this was just a misunderstanding on the antiquated charter. 6 of 1. 1/2 dozen of the other really. Had he not been in D, he more likely would have been in A given the voter compositions. Not so salient, was my point that Mr. Perone is going to have everything dug up and hurled at him. All for the sake of filling the birthday boy’s ego trip. Hopefully all this forthcoming nonsense will open more people’s eyes.

  25. Don’t Panic

    @Watts.
    agreed. Norwalkers hate the mudslinging and negative campaigning. That is why so many are unaffiliated. Will also be interesting to see if Mr. Watts will be putting his residence where his mouth is. He still has to move into the district to mount a challenge. Is he really softening up the territory for another candidate or will he be uprooting his family for a chance to make those long comes to Hayford?

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