Watts moving to challenge Perone in 137th District

NORWALK, Conn. – Norwalk Councilman David Watts hasn’t announced yet who he is running against in a bid to get into the statehouse, but says he has rented both an office and an apartment in the legislative district currently served by state Rep. Chris Perone, a fellow Democrat.

“These are clues,” Perone said, with a laugh. “But he hasn’t announced.”

Watts formed an exploratory committee just over a year ago, specifying only that he was interested in running for state representative.

Perone represents the 137th District. Watts has lived on June Avenue with his family for about a decade, in the 142nd District. He has represented District A on the council since November 2011. District 137 is 2/3 the municipal District A, Watts said, and, “Most of these people are my constituents already. … Hypothetically, if I were to run in the 137, that is what would make it seem like a natural progression.”

Watts said his apartment, which he has not fully moved into, is in District A, though he won’t specify where.

“I have an apartment in the district. I signed the lease and I have a key. Right now I am going back and forth. So I haven’t changed my voter registration yet but I will, very soon.”

The office is on East Avenue. Watts spent hours there Wednesday, watching the legislature on a television he inherited from his late grandmother. He said he was doing research, boning up on issues.

State Rep. Chris Perone (D-137)
State Rep. Chris Perone (D-137)

“He’s in exploratory mode so I am not quite sure how to look at that,” Perone said. “I don’t know if he’s in exploratory mode what the purpose of the office space is.”

The first step in trying to unseat Perone would be during the May 20 Democratic caucus at Tracey Elementary School. Then either person would likely force a primary by collecting signatures.

“Primaries are challenging,” Watts said. “Incumbent legislators seldom lose.”

Then why do it?

“Nothing good comes easy, and it gives me an opportunity to put the issues that I care about on the table,” he said. “It will allow me to start the debate and engage. If I do run, I don’t anticipate doing any negative campaigning, because I want people to understand that this is not the election, this is only a friendly competition for the Democratic nomination.”

Watts has raised $5,614, according to his April 10 filing. This means he has met the $5,000 level he needs to qualify for a matching state grant through the Citizens Election Program. He also needs to get contributions of at least $5 from 150 Norwalk residents. Any money collected now essentially goes to the state, so people contributing now are just getting the total number of contributions up, he said.

Perone started much later, in January, and has raised $1,741.

“I am continuing to raise money, but my first priority is the work I am doing up here in Hartford. But I don’t feel concerned that I won’t qualify (for the grant) or I won’t have the money raised. It is going well, but I have some more pressing matters that I have to deal with on the state level. But that has always been my priority,” Perone said.

Watts said “a lot of nonsense” has been made out of the fact that he would have to move to run against Perone.

“The fact is my home needs some repair,” he said, giving that as a reason he and his family are moving. “Eventually I want to put it on the market, but it’s not in the condition to put it on the market. There’s some repairs that have to be made to spruce it up. I think a lot of people made a bunch of nonsense. I lived at that location for more than a decade. People can move after a while. … For me, as long as I continue to live in my council district — which is very important to me — I am pretty happy about it.”

Watts said he has gotten an endorsement from a union. He did not say which one.

“If I can lend my voice to causes for worker’s rights, I’ll do it,” said Watts, a graduate of Yale Divinity School. “I’m a person who believes in doing missionary work as a person who is a trained minister. I don’t have a church per se, with walls. I feel that I do what I can for the people, fighting for income equality, fighting any injustice. I wake up in the morning and I want to change the world. … I have never seen anybody able to take it with them when they are gone.”

Things are tough financially for Norwalk residents, he said. They need help from the legislature.

“It’s not to say that the guys who are there now are not doing good work,” he said. “They may be doing good work. But on the council I see and hear from people directly. I feel that they want new representation. They want someone to stand with them and fight for them and carry their issues. Someone has to fight for poor people. What better person to fight for a poor person than a poor person? I’m poor, and if people have a problem with that, that’s OK, because in the Bible it clearly says you are not to store your treasures here on Earth, but you’re to store them in Heaven.”

Perone said legislators have had the same focus.

“It has been such a focus of what we have been doing here, even through the darkest parts of the recession, that the social safety net was maintained as much as we could do,” he said. “I think that our focus is on the early childhood education, on making sure that people have the access to SNAP and other programs, but the folks that need the help the most have been very much a priority. Obviously, ‘I beg to differ’ is the short answer for that.”

Legislators have been working to create economic opportunities, improve the economy and help small businesses, he said.

“We’re dealing with having a budget surplus, which is nice. But making sure that resources get channeled down here as we compete against 159 municipalities is going to be the challenge for myself and the rest of the legislative delegation,” he said. “Those are the right missions to pursue and that’s what we’re committed to do.”


18 responses to “Watts moving to challenge Perone in 137th District”

  1. John Hamlin

    There is no budget surplus. It was crested with borrowed money. The state’s finances are still a mess, and only through fiscal responsibility, budget cuts, and lower taxes will the state economy turn around and jobs be created for the people he hopes to help. Since neither Watts nor Perone will take on the state budget or the public employee unions, it really doesn’t matter which one of them goes to Hartford — or if either one of them goes. Nothing significant will change.

  2. John Levin

    Politician quoting the bible? Run away!

  3. TLaw

    It’s always been said that Mr. Watts has no real means of employment, if true, how does one afford to rent an auxiliary apartment just for the purposes of running for a public office? I’m not sure I’d be willing to donate to his election bid based on that info.

  4. Oldtimer

    In the picture with this story Mr Watts looks a lot like Charles Barkley.

  5. EastNorwalkChick

    What are Mr. Watts’ qualifications and his employment experience/history? What legislation has he sponsored or help pass while on the City Council? These are things that voters want to know about a prospective candidate.
    Maybe NON can help us out on these questions many of us have about Mr. Watts.

  6. Keen Observer

    Mr. Watts is moving to his new apartment while his home is being spruced up. So his apartment is for personal use.

    Mr. Watts also reports paying $500 rent for a Headquarters in his latest SEEC filing. If his apartment and headquarters are the same place, then his personal rent appears to have been paid with campaign funds. Campaign finance laws clearly prohibit spending campaign funds for personal use by the candidate or his family. Mr. Watts would now appear to be ineligible to receive a matching grant from the state’s election fund.

    Unfortunately, I think this is just a small example of how a Representative Watts would use the public purse.

    1. Mark Chapman

      @ Keen Observer

      Mr. Watts is not living in or planning to live in his campaign office. NoN has seen the office and it is not livable space. He has not yet revealed the address of the apartment.

  7. loveforthecity

    No need to bash somone because of their relgious beliefs.
    @TLAW, Watts doesn’t need your money he already qualified and raised all his money. Why don’t you stop worring about his personal life and pay attention to his record of public service. He is a fighter for the people! Get with it.

    @EastNorwalkChick, if you truly live in East Norwalk you should know what the Councilman does as he has been the most active Councilman in Norwalk over the past 3 yrs.

    @Keen, are you kidding me? Your assumptions are ridiculous with bad ill intentioned assumptions. You have no merit or proof. Watts is a sitting Councilman who respects the system and takes his candidacy seriously. Your comments are just pure noise that will be filtered as irrelevant and pure nonsense!

  8. David: who is your treasurer, and what is his mailing address? (I.e., how do people donate money to your campaign?)

  9. Richard Roberts

    loveoforthecity is David Watts and his only qualification is that he sits around all day and makes comments on blogs and newspaper sites.

    If Watts is “the most active councilman” what has he accomplished? He claims on his last campaign’s literature that he “paves roads” Is there a road in Norwalk that was paved because of him? Or is it that his didn’t stop roads from being paved by protesting against them with a bullhorn?

    Watts is a “Manchurian” candidate who only has one thing in mind, endless support for public unions. It hardly matters as they have already won and are just about bankrupting Connecticut without him. It will only get worse.

  10. minimum wage worker

    Dave Watts, is a true champion of the poor and the middle class. I have donated to the Watts campaign and will do so again. Watts keep fighting for Norwalk!

    SI Se Puede.

  11. LWitherspoon

    No surprise that David Watts was not endorsed by NoN during the most recent Common Council election. No surprise either that an unnamed Union has already endorsed Mr. Watts, since he devotes more effort to representing municipal employee unions than ordinary taxpayers. The most recent shameful episode involved Mr. Watts protesting efforts by a Norwalk non-profit and SoNo anchor to pay market rates to its custodians. Before that he publicly attacked the City’s Director of Personnel because of complaints from municipal employee union members. Prior to that Watts complained mightily about the City’s attempt to save a little money by outsourcing garbage hauling, with a lot of name-calling and smear tactics thrown in for good measure. Municipal employee unions already wield a lot of power thanks to the state’s collective bargaining laws – they don’t need yet another lackey in Hartford.
    I agree with EastNorwalkChick – let’s hear more about David Watts’s work experience and qualifications. Is it true that he hasn’t held a full-time job since the Knopp administration and pays his City property taxes very late or not at all? Certainly there’s nothing wrong with having a low income, but it’s not something to wear as a badge of honor and it also begs the question of what you’re doing to increase your income so as to better provide for your family’s needs. In Mr. Watts’s case, the answer to that question seems to be that he’s running for State Representative.
    I don’t agree with everything Chris Perone does, but he is a thoughtful and articulate representative who is well-versed in the issues facing Norwalk and the rest of the state. It would be an awful mistake to dismiss him in favor of David Watts.

  12. WOW!

    I support David Watts because he’s his own man. He stands up for what he believes in and is willing to go the extra mile for a cause worth fighting for. He’s doesn’t give in to bullies and he doesn’t see black, brown or white. He supports what he knows in his heart is right and he’s not afraid to articulate his thoughts with passion and intensity. He represents only the interest of his constituents. Now that’s the kind of representative we need in Hartford. Go get ’em, David!

  13. Bill

    If Mr. watts won’t support SoNoCC and it’s funding needs, then all Latinos in this district should support Perone.

  14. LWitherspoon

    You must not have been present for all the times that David Watts accused those who disagreed with him of being racists […] You probably also missed Mr. Watts’s involvement in the shameful and offensive accusations made by the Rev. Nellie Mann against the Norwalk PD – accusations which were thoroughly debunked and led to Rev. Mann’s removal as police chaplain.
    I don’t want a state rep who can’t or won’t explain why he has not had any full-time, long-term employment in recent memory. Nor do I want one whose time on the Common Council has been characterized by a remarkable lack of accomplishment and a breathtaking lack of respect for those who disagreed with him. I believe the facts cited herein were a large part of why NoN did not endorse Mr. Watts in the most recent Common Council election.

    This comment has been edited to remove material that is banned in our comment policy.

  15. Kathleen Watts

    L Witherspoon,

    NoN allows you to attack my husband with false and baseless comments.

    Nobody believes you.

    My family stood up and defended Mrs.Chapman. We made signs and rallied to her cause.

    NoN didn’t endorse but Dave but he still won by a bigger margin than 2011.

    Dave’s donors are of White,African American and Latino/Latina and it’s a true reflection of his commitment to diversity.

    You’re using racial scare tactics to scare voters and that is not the Norwalk we believe in.

    Boogeyman politics at its worst.

    My husband served this city with honor.Zoning commission, Human Relations commission, Mayor’s Summer Youth and 2 term Councilman

    Honors, SCSU, Yale Club Scholar, Masters Degree, Yale Divinity School class of 2003.

    My husband is a grounded by faith, really wants to change the world and that’s why I married him.

  16. minimum wage worker

    Amen, Kathy!

  17. LWitherspoon

    @Kathleen Watts
    You could easily prove me wrong and make me look bad by explaining what full-time work Mr. Watts has had in recent memory. As you can see by reading the other comments in this thread, I’m not the only voter interested in this information.
    With respect to racial politics, I cited several examples of Mr. Watts playing racial politics. Whoever donated to his campaign, it doesn’t change the fact that he has played the race card at every opportunity.

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