Wilms: Being bank VP will not hinder role as Norwalk/Darien state rep

State Rep.-elect Fred Wilms (R-142) talks to the West Norwalk Association recently as part of his campaign.
The aftermath
The aftermath

Correction: Vote totals for U.S. Rep. Jim Himes (D-4) and Dan Debicella were reversed in the list below.  Debicella, as expected, easily carried New Canaan.

NORWALK, Conn. – Fred Wilms’ new “part-time” job begins Thursday, although he won’t be eligible for pay until January.

Wilms, who defeated Andy Garfunkel in the race to take the seat of outgoing State Rep. Larry Cafero (R-142), will continue as Webster Bank Senior Vice President when he assumes office in January. Wilms said Tuesday night that he’s expected in Hartford Thursday night for a caucus meeting to begin discussing the party’s new leadership.

Cafero, who is retiring after 22 years in the House, served as minority leader four hi past four terms after six terms as deputy leader, according to his House GOP website.

Being a Connecticut state rep pays $28,000 a year, according to Ballotopedia. It’s considered a part time job, with a lot of hours spent during the legislative session.

It’s considered part time, but Wilms’ Republican colleague in the 143rd District, State Rep. Gail Lavielle of Wilton, said recently she throws herself into the job wholeheartedly without regard to hours spent. Others juggle – as an attorney, Cafero could make his own hours. State Sen. Bob Duff sells real estate, with a similar amount of flexibility.

State Rep. Bruce Morris is human relations officer for Norwalk Public Schools; he’s required to spend 32 hours a week on the job, Superintendent of Schools Manny Rivera said. Morris said he makes himself available for night meetings during the legislative session and is always reachable by telephone. Public hearings are televised on CT-N, he said, which helps.

One of the great things about a part-time legislature is that many different fields of expertise make their way to Hartford, Morris said. That includes other people who work for boards of education. The chairman of the Appropriations Committee is head of adult education for New Haven.

Wilms promised while campaigning that he will bring his financial skills to Hartford to help the state face it’s financial challenges. Connecticut should mimic Norwalk’s success in cutting back on employee benefits and costs, he said.

How will he balance being a bank senior vice president with the demands of a legislative session?

“Webster Bank has blessed my candidacy and they’re excited that I won, they’re very supportive,” Wilms said Tuesday. “I still need to be successful at the bank and I intend to be. But I believe that I can work it out, manage my time and manage my affairs to be successful.”

Other election notes

• Common Councilman Bruce Kimmel said Tuesday that he expected Garfunkel to win but it was hard to tell, as this election was the first time the 2010 redistricting would come into play.

New Canaan was added to the 142nd District in the redistricting, for which Cafero was an integral part. The change didn’t have much impact with Cafero as the candidate as he was a long-term incumbent, Kimmel said. Garfunkel and Wilms were pretty evenly matched, Kimmel said, as both had long resumes of public service, and it was the first time two newcomers were going head to head in the new district.

“If it was the old district with the numbers I think Andy wins fairly easily,” Kimmel said, of the race between the former Norwalk town clerk and the former Norwalk Board of Estimate and Taxation chairman.

The numbers tell a different tale. Wilms won Norwalk with 51.6 percent of the vote; that’s 3,423 votes to Garfunkel’s 3,210.

Late Tuesday night Garfunkel was holding out for a win, saying partly that he hadn’t seen the New Canaan numbers yet. Later he described them as a “big loss.”

Indeed: Wilms won New Canaan with 77 percent of the votes. Wilms had 853 votes to Garfunkel’s 281.

• A better prediction: Kimmel said Malloy would win.

“I think he has a better ground game,” Kimmel said. “Plus the polls have him ahead. I think the economy could be better in Connecticut but there are national factors in Connecticut in particular and in other Northeastern states. So a lot of what happened I don’t attribute to him. I don’t think Foley would have done any different in terms of the economy and I am concerned with some of his issues. I think in Connecticut we’re a little more moderate than Foley when it comes to issues like gun control.”

Two days before the election independent candidate Joe Visconti dropped out and threw his support to Foley. Kimmel said that wouldn’t matter. A Quinnipiac poll taken months ago quizzed voters every which way about what would happen in Visconti weren’t in the race and the ratio stayed the same, he said.

“Visconti was a protest vote, not an ideological vote. It didn’t change the numbers,” Kimmel said.

• One West Rocks voter didn’t vote for either Wilms or Garfunkel.

“I wrote in for Emily Wilson because I thought she got shafted with the primary,” she said. “I know there won’t be enough but I couldn’t bring myself to vote for either one of them.”

• Fourth Congressional District candidate Dan Debicella spent part of his day at Fox Run Elementary School greeting voters, although he said he didn’t know if the activity benefited anyone.

He said he knew it was a tough fight to try to unseat Congressman Jim Himes (D-Greenwich).

“I am realistic,” Debicella said. “This is an uphill battle. Incumbent congressmen have a 80 to 90 percent re-election rate. It’s the type of thing where it’s always tough to knock off an incumbent. But for us, people are so unhappy with Obama, so unhappy with Malloy, and Jim Himes approval rating in our poll was only 46 percent, not super unpopular but not popular either so this might be our year.”

He had also been to a polling place in Stamford, he said, because the race would be decided in Norwalk and Stamford. Bridgeport would go for Himes, he said, and the suburbs would vote for him. Therefore it was Fairfield County’s richer cities that would decide the race.

Himes won decisively.

As predicted by Debicella, the incumbent won Bridgeport handily, and Norwalk and Stamford also went for Himes. But many of the “suburbs” did, too. A sampling of numbers provided by the Secretary of State’s office:


Himes 16,955

Debicella 3,863


Himes 13,590

Debicella 8,273


Himes 18,157

Debicella 10,851


Himes 2,508

Debicella 4,528


Himes 10,557

Debicella 9,964

New Canaan

Himes 2,484

Debicella 4,605


Himes 1,951

Debicella 1,833


Himes 4,368

Debicella 4,791


Himes 6,972

Debicella 6,172


Himes 1,912

Debicella 1,712


Himes 5,788

Debicella 4,113


Himes 3,144

Debicella 3,687



7 responses to “Wilms: Being bank VP will not hinder role as Norwalk/Darien state rep”

  1. Stuart Wells

    According to the Secretary of the State’s website, you have the Himes vs. Debicella results backwards for New Canaan.
    Stuart Wells

  2. Dodi Reid McCollem

    just wanted to say Larry you are going to be sorely missed you gave your all to the people in Norwalk I miss you and your family please give them my regards. As for Wilms don’t think he can fill your shoes I know he is a Repulican, but If I still lived in Norwalk Andy would have had my vote hands down

  3. Stuart Wells

    The spreadsheet of Norwalk results would be a lot more intelligible if you had kept sections together when you formatted the page breaks. That was why I color-coded the sections. For instance, the last column on the first page belongs with the section reporting the results for District 140 which begins on the 5th page. I will supply a better paginated PDF to you when I get to the office.
    Readers may notice how many numbers must be entered to calculate the final voting results. All cross-endorsed candidates, such as in the races for the state constitutional offices and congress, have four lines of results numbers on every tabulator tape we enter. In addition to the results from each precinct, we also have to include absentee ballot results, and Election Day Registration ballot results, from each precinct. It is like having 36 precincts instead of 12. All of the numbers must be read from poor quality printed tapes and typed into the spreadsheet. We are not allowed to transmit any numbers electronically. There are over 4,000 numbers to be entered and totaled before the results can be sent to the state. Only then can we give them to the press. We got done with this process at 5:30 a.m. (If you think you can do it faster, we will be happy to organize a tryout. All contestants must, of course, prove that they got up at 4:00 a.m. and worked all day until the beginning of the tryout at 9:30 p.m.)

  4. Two and Finished

    The message is, if you are an elitist millionaire in CT you had better be a Democrat like Himes and show up for a few photo ops in the ghettos you pretend to care about if you want to get elected. Westport, Fairfield, and Trumbull liberals love it because he keeps the minorities out of their towns. When Norwalk turns into Bridgeport and Bridgeport into Detroit and their property values plummet, they will have themselves to thank.

  5. Oyster

    This was not the first election in the 142nd affected by the redistricting. Kate Tepper ran against Rep Cafero in the “new” district.

  6. piberman

    If there is any “message’ surely its that CT will remain a “true blue” Democratic state for the foreseeable future with an unbeatable super-majority in Hartford. No matter what happens elsewhere in America. Gov. Malloy hit the right note in the “victory celebrations” saying “…the cities belong to us.” As long as the higher income folks in the Gold Coast don’t complain about supporting the cities and public unions this “magic formula” can endure indefinitely. But there are some “cracks”, e.g. firms, jobs and retirees moving out of state together with new college grads looking for good jobs. Would take more than a GOP Governor to repair the cracks.

  7. Betty

    Counted like 130 write ins from Norwalk. Would be interesting to see who people put down in the “Write Ins”. Anyone know where the Write In list is located?

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