Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Discord at the Republican Town Convention

The Republican Town Committee (RTC) held their nominating convention for this year's municipal elections on Monday evening in City Hall. Ryan Kennedy, representing the candidate Recruitment Committee, read all of the names in nomination, and then the names of those recommended by the Committee. In all cases the recommended candidates were endorsed, but in a rarity, the votes were not all unanimous.

The Candidates
The nomination for Mayor was dispatched quickly, with Sebastian Giuliano receiving unanimous and enthusiastic support for a 3rd term. Giuliano accepted the nomination with brief remarks in which he spoke of the importance of winning over voters who are not Republican, "Fortunately, most of those, Democratic and unaffiliated [voters], share our values." He also spoke of the importance of taking the long view in decisions, "It's our job to look out for those that follow us."

For Planning and Zoning Commission, three seats are open, and the Republicans nominated two incumbents, Ron Borelli and Les Adams. The third nomination went to Nick Fazzino, who currently serves as a P&Z alternate.

Four seats are open on the Board of Education. Incumbents Sheila Daniels and Ryan Kennedy were nominated, together with Stacey Barka and Stephen Gaarder.

The Republicans saved the Common Council for last at their nominating convention. The Recruitment Committee considered 11 names for the 8 positions, recommending incumbents Joseph Bibisi, David Bauer, and Phil Pessina, but passing over incumbent Earle Roberts. They also recommended Deb Kleckowski, the P&Z Commissioner who recently switched her party affiliation to Republican, and nominated Tony Gaunichaux, Michael Marino, Matthew Scarrozzo, and Robert Stefurak.

Roberts was unhappy at being denied a nomination, and rose to make two points. He first asked whether there was any conflict in having another candidate for Common Council nomination (David Bauer) serve on the Recruitment Committee. Kennedy answered that all decisions were by consensus and thus there was no vote in which Bauer cast the deciding ballot. Roberts secondly asked why he was not told of the decision until many days after others had heard from the Committee. Kennedy said that he had phoned Roberts and left a message, so he could tell him the news "man to man" instead of electronically.

The vote for the Common Council slate drew two "Naye" votes, but still passed overwhelmingly.

Afterwards, I asked Roberts if he would be petitioning for a primary. He responded by pointing to the State statutes, which allow him to run as an independent if he gets 70 signatures by August 5th, or to force a Republican primary if he gets a required number of signatures by August 12th. Roberts told me that he was quite upset at being treated this way after all his years of service.

The "Republican Fullfillment Commitment"
The last 10 minutes of the convention were spent discussing two documents that were distributed to all RTC members. Like the work of the great philosophers, the documents discuss the tension between the individual and the party. One delineates in detail the expectations the party has of each candidate, in such areas as fundraising and the number of hours of door to door campaigning. The other discusses what a party member should do when they find themselves in disagreement with the majority of the party:
Disagreements and discord must be reconciled either in the party caucus or at town committee meetings; not on street corners or in the local pubs, and not at public town meetings or in the press.
Should a member, in all good conscience, find that they frequently favor the policy positions of the opposing party, he or she should resign their position recognizing they no longer represent the sentiments of the party that nominated them.
Each of the documents has space for the candidate's signature, the date, and a "Witness". Several of the candidates objected to the rigid expectations of candidates, and questioned whether the documents would be legally enforceable.

After some discussion, most in the room agreed that the documents were really just guidelines, and should serve as internal reminders.

An earlier version of this post mistakenly used Gaarder's middle name as his first. My apologies, this has been corrected above; his first name is a nice one.


Deborah Kleckowski said...

Congratulations to all the newly nominated candidates! I look forward to working with each of you and to an exciting and invigorating campaign!

Thank you to Earl for his commitment to the city of Middletown and its residents.
And, thank you to everyone for all your support, especially this past year.

I am thrilled to be part of the Republican Team. I eagerly await the opportunity to continue to serve the city of Middletown and its residents come this November!

See you on the campaign trail!

Deb Kleckowski

Stephen Gaarder said...

Your blogger mistakenly substituted my first name with my middle name -- This is Stephen Gaarder, candidate for School Board, not Matthew Gaarder. Thanks in advance for the correction.

Anonymous said...

I now know why more and more voters are registering as "unaffiliated". After decades of serving his party well and with great dedication, Earl Roberts is put aside for a common council candidate that just switched parties to become a republican. There is no problem in switching parties when you feel your goals are more consistent with another group, but for the Republican Town Committee to treat a long term member in such a shameful way is a sad commentary on loyalty. btw... why was David Bauer on the selection committee when he needed to be selected himself?

Anonymous said...

Mike Marino is running for common council! What a joke! That guy is one of the cops that no one respects in this town! He got ousted as a union leader! Middletown don't vote for this man! He will not get elected!

James Streeto said...

In the interests of full disclosure, actually, the democrats do something similar to the Republican pledge--

The party chairman takes us into a back room, one at a time, and hands us a small picture of a revered democrat (this year, it was Barack Obama). We hold it in our hands, he sets it on fire, and we pledge "if I ever reveal the secrets of this party, may I burn like this picture."

William Wilson said...

Would have been nice if included in your article the rest of the republican slate.
For Board of Assessment Appeals:
Incumbent Jonathan Pulino
Former P&Z commissioner William Wilson.

Anonymous said...

Kudos to the Republican Party for doing what the Democrats never had the guts to do-remove a trouble maker from their ranks. Earl Roberts could have easily been replaced by a sign that read " I Vote No". He single-handedly almost drove the South Fire District into bankruptcy.For ten years he voted "no" for every fire department budget that he helped draft!
Good bye! Good riddance!

Anonymous said...

I'll be one of 70 signatures for Earl Roberts to run as an independent. I like him. I like it that he speaks his own mind, even at the expense of a party nomination.

Thanks to the writer for this interesting behind-the-scenes look at the Republican town convention. But I'm wondering, did the Democrats let an Eye reporter into the room during their convention?

And I do enjoy Jim Streeto's good sense of humor.

Anonymous said...

Don't forget there is another option,

Anonymous said...

Yes, I believe the Democrats did let the Eye and the Middletown Press into their nominating convention. No fireworks.

I'm glad to see that Mayor Seb and the Middletown Republicans have fully embraced their goal of buying off city employees -- no matter how much in higher taxes it means -- with huge pay increases (in a recession!) and a policeman and firefighter on their Council ticket. It's very cynical, and those of us who actually pay taxes in this city don't appreciate it.

Anonymous said...

and the fireman and policeman that are republican council candidates are also union big wigs, thats real consistent with the GOP's core beliefs.

the unions would love having the republicans in charge..

Anonymous said...

Yes, it's well known how much Republicans love Unions.You must be kidding!