Friday, March 26, 2010

DTC Election took place with secret ballot, held in caucus

Former Mayor Thornton

The Democratic Town Committee meeting opened with 56 members present at first roll call. Former Mayor Dominique Thornton was the first to speak, and motioned for a recess, so that the membership could caucus, and vote with a private--secret ballot. There was heated debate over the procedural legality of moving forward in this manner, with calls of foul play from both sides. The democratic Common Council members of the city and others argued for a public vote, while Dan Russo and his supporters, pressed for the secret ballot. Both sides had  documentation to support their viewpoint, some provided from the State Democratic Committee. Those arguing for the secret ballot also noted that Robert's Rules of Orders allowed for this action to go forward. By a roll call vote of 33 for and 28 opposed, with 3 DTC late comers now in the count, the motion to go into recess carried.
2009 DTC officials
The next order of business called into question was if the public, and press would be allowed to observe the Democratic Town Committee proceedings while in caucus. The point was made that a meeting being held in a public location, was required by law to be open to the public; following this realization, the motion passed by a voice vote, but not before it was recognized that the now former parliamentarian of  the committee, James Streeto had just been dismissed of his duties prior to the beginning of the meeting, leaving it apparent that this was news to many, when he was called upon to act in that capacity, at the height of the discord.

Still acting as Chair Mr. Russo then called for a vote on the two uncontested offices of the DTC those of  Vice Chair and Secretary; with all in favor barring one abstention, based on what was felt to be the illegality of the proceedings, both nominations where voted into office.

At this time a motion was made to have a temporary chair conduct the meeting and the  election; Attorney Ryan was nominated and selected for this roll.

Russo speaks to the DTC asking for their vote.
Richard Pelletier nominated Dan Russo for chair, followed by Gerry Daley's nomination of Lisa Santangelo. Daley asked the democratic Common Council members to stand and join him in the nomination praising Santangelo's experience, energy, contributions to the last election and her local community involvement.  He assured his fellow Democrats that she will work at the local level to get Democrats from Middletown elected to local and state offices.

A coin flip determined the order of speaking for the two nominees, who both had the preference to speak last, but not before Mr. Russo deferred to Santangelo by saying, "ladies first."

Mr Russo was the first to speak and made a point of defending the secret ballot. He followed this by noting that the Democratic Team had great accomplishments during his tenure, without noting them specifically. He took time to cite what he called an attack on his leadership made in a February letter, sent by the Democratic members of the Common Council.  He stated he did not respond to the attacks at the time in deference to the Kleen Energy tragedy. Russo said he and others on the DTC where outraged by the letter and that it was wrong and inappropriate. He accused the Democrats of the Common Council of wanting a chair they would be able to control, thus guaranteeing their elections in perpetuity.

Ms Santangelo's words to those assembled was short and succinct by comparison. First she stated that she likes to follow rules, and will follow the rules. She made it clear that she was asked to run for chair.  In terms of her qualifications she noted her training as a Communications Mediator, as well as a host of other past experiences in politics (of which I was not quick enough to list). Santangelo noted that there was a lack of financial support and fundraising efforts for candidates running for office in the last election, and that she would work hard to change this in the next election round. She ended her address by stating she would breathe life back into this body, and work to bring independents back to the democratic fold.
After another short go round of parliamentary squabbling, each DTC member was called to come forward, receive a ballot, and cast a vote into the "ballot box." After careful scrutiny of the vote count, Santangelo was named the chair, with a vote of 33 to 30.

Lisa Santangelo
Gracious in defeat, Russo as well as his supporters vowed to support Santangelo and to do the work of the democratic team, and help to win offices in November and in the next Mayoral election. He offered congratulations to Santangelo, and then thanked those who have supported him over last six years, stating "let us move forward together."

Common Council member Tom Serra thanked Russo, stating that though he disagreed with him on many things, he appreciated his hard work on behalf of the DTC and commitment to the party.

"We have lots of work to do,"  Santangelo said in her first statement as chair. Before adjourning the meeting, she set some dates for fund-raising events and oversaw the approval of the slate of delegates for the 2010 Nominating Convention.

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