Thursday, July 9, 2009

Candidates to be chosen this month for November election

Every odd-numbered year in Connecticut brings elections to fill the elected positions in local government. We will vote to elect a Mayor, 12 members of Common Council, and a Treasurer for two-year terms, 3 members of Planning and Zoning, and 4 members of the Board of Education to serve 4 year terms. In addition, there will be elections for 1 Planning and Zoning Alternate and 3 members of the Board of Assessment Appeals.

The two major political parties, Republicans and Democrats, will choose their preferred candidates for the November ballot later this month at nominating conventions. Candidates for office will also be chosen by a newly formed political party in Middletown called the Real Balance Party. Finally, candidates will have an opportunity to get on the ballot through petitioning as an independent candidate.

The Town Committee System
By state law, every town in Connecticut has two "Town Committees", a Democratic and a Republican. Members on the Town Committee are elected, and serve in turn as the nominating convention, choosing the slate of candidates that their party will run in elections for municipal offices. As elected bodies constituted by state law, all meetings of the Town Committees are open to the public.

The Democratic Town Committee consists of 70 people, and includes almost all of those Democrats elected to city offices; an "Advisory Board" is composed of another 35 people. The DTC executive committee is composed of Dan Russo (chair), Ann Tomasso (vice-chair), Sandra Faraci (Secretary), John Kasper (Treasurer), and James Streeto (Parliamentarian). The Democratic Town Committee meets on the third Thursday of every month at 7PM in Council Chambers.

The Republican Town Committee consists of about 50 people, and also includes many elected officials. The RTC executive committee is composed of David Bauer (chair), Les Adams (Vice Chair), Helen Landry (Secretary), and Laura Gionfriddo (Treasurer). The Republican Town Committee meets on the last Monday of every month at 7PM in Council Chambers.

Democratic Party not seeking new candidates
The Democratic Town Committee will hold a convention on July 21st to choose their slate of candidates. These candidates will be selected from those who have submitted a letter to the Committee, stating an interest in running. Faraci told me that candidates could send the letter either to Russo, or to her ( She said that the executive committee of the DTC would be interviewing potential candidates until about July 17th, and then recommend a slate to the full Town Committee.

Faraci and Russo both told me that the DTC routinely has given full support to the slate recommended by the leadership. According to state law, if a candidate gets 15% or more of the votes in the Town Committee convention, then there must be a party primary to choose the candidates for the ballot in November. Candidates can also force a primary by submitting petitions to the Secretary of State's office. But according to Faraci, there has not been a primary for municipal elections on the Democratic side for 30-40 years. Russo told me, "Primaries can be harmful to the process."

Russo said that the executive committee evaluates candidates based on how much involvement they have shown in Democratic campaigns in the past. He encouraged people to step forward and become involved, "Serving on [appointed] boards or commissions, helping with campaigns, those will bring people to the attention of the rest of the Democratic Town Committee."

Russo indicated that the party was not looking for people to run for office. He noted that young Democrats like Matt Lesser and Dan Drew have stepped forward to become involved, and that there were many more people interested in running than there were possible seats for them to run for. In addition, as the Democrats have held the maximum allowed number of seats on Middletown boards and commissions in recent years, there are many incumbents. DTC chair Dan Russo said, "We have a depth of experience and interest that I am very pleased with."

Republican Party looking for interested residents

The Republican Town Committee will choose its candidates at a nominating convention on July 27th. The executive committee will interview people who have expressed an interest in running, and then recommend a slate to the Town committee for approval.

Bauer said that the Republicans are very interested in getting new people involved in municipal governance. In a press release, the Town Committee wrote, "The Middletown Republican Town Committee is actively seeking Middletown Folks who are interested in creating change for Middletown by running and becoming elected officials, .... please contact Ryan Kennedy at"

Bauer told me that there are currently more people who have expressed an interest in running than there are positions available. He said that all possible candidates will be treated equally and without any pre-judging of who should be on the ticket. After all the interviews, the executive committee will evaluate the entire list of potential candidates and recommend the best possible slate.

He said the criteria would include the background of individuals, their experience in the community and with government, their interest and energy, and if it was for a prominent post, their leadership capabilities. He said that if the potential candidate is an incumbent, they would be asked what they have accomplished, and if a challenger, what they hoped to accomplish. Bauer listed their "ability to play as a team" as the last criteria which the executive committee would use to evaluate candidates.

Other routes to the ballot
A new political party in Middletown has formed this year, and hopes to field candidates for most municipal offices. Rae Johnson, who announced in February that she is running for Mayor, and John Kilian have formally created the Realistic Balance party. Pearl Williams, elections officer in the Secretary of State's Office, told me that The Realistic Balance Party has qualified as a minority party and will appear on the ballot this November. In addition to Johnson for mayor, Kilian said he will be on the ballot for the Board of Education. They told me that people interested in running on the Realistic Balance ticket for other offices should contact Kilian (

The final route to appearing on the November ballot is to be a "petition candidate", running without party affiliation. This requires filing petitions with the Secretary of State's office by August 5th. The number of signatures required is 1% of the number of people who cast ballots for a given position in the last election. For most positions on the ballot, about 7,000 votes were cast in 2007, thus it takes 70 valid signatures to be on the ballot this year.


Anonymous said...

Damaging to the process? Primaries? Russo don't you mean fair?

Anonymous said...

I believe Ms. Faraci is just as dilusional as her Democratic cohorts. She states the last Democratic primary was 30-40 years ago? The last Democratic municipal primary was when Maria Holzberg beat incumbent Mayor Thomas Serra in 1990's.
Mayor Holzberg was right back then when she stated Middletown's Democratic politics was a "good ole boy network". And no one else could break into it. She was a true maverick!
Town Committee Chairman Dan Russo believes that "Primaries can be harmful to the process." In other words, he does not want any other Democrats to get involved in politics, or come up with new ideas and ways to help or change Middletown. Mr. Russo only wants the other members of the Democratic Town Committee to do grunt work for those seeking office, and whom he feels are worthy. Today's Democratic party in Middletown is nothing but a sham.

Anonymous said...


You're misunderstanding what Faraci said. It's been 40 years or so since there was a primary for Town Committee seats. But there have been plenty of Democratic primaries for actual elective offices.

Anonymous said...

To Anonymous #2,
I stand by my statement.
If you read the article, the statements made by Ms. Faraci are regarding nominations for Novembers municipal elections.
Ms. Faraci states "There has not been a primary for municipal elections in 30 to 40 years." She is not speaking about Democratic Town Committee memberships, but elected officials for the November municipal election.
I must also correct a part of the statement which I made. The last time there was a Democratic election primary was not between then Mayor Thomas Serra and Maria Holzberg. There was a Democratic Mayoral primary for the following election, between then Mayor Maria Holzberg and Domenique Thornton. Both of these candidates are worthy of the crown "maverick".

Anonymous said...

"Primaries harmful to the process"...."no new candidates". Well this just sums up the reason not to vote for any Democrat. It all about power & government jobs. They want to mainttain teh stautus quo. They want to maintain union jobs. They want to pay outragous teacher salaries. They can't even fiqure out a budget. They want to pay for political favors. When will the electorate wake up?