On the heels of an election where the majority of candidates elected were part of the campaign he ran, Bill Lalor has announced that he will be stepping down as chair of the Wilton Republican Town Committee (RTC), effective Dec. 31.
Lalor made the announcement at last night’s RTC meeting and spoke with GOOD Morning Wilton about his decision to resign after two years in the role.
He pointed to time constraints as a prime reason for his choice to step down. “Due to increased professional and personal commitments, I’m not able to put the time in I think that’s necessary to do the work.”
Adding to the issue of time and family is the fact that Lalor is married to one of those winning Republican candidates–Jennifer Lalor is one of the people elected to serve on the Board of Education, a position that involves a hefty time commitment. The couple also have two young children. “We need to find some balance between our commitments,” he said.
The last few months of Lalor’s chairmanship have seen added pressure and stress–both from the time required to oversee a campaign that was one of the more competitive ones in recent memory, as well as related drama. Early in the candidate selection process, the RTC was tested by new member Michael Powers who not only mounted a challenge to the party’s frontrunner first selectman candidate Lynne Vanderslice, but also took initial steps to file a lawsuit against the RTC as part of that challenge.
“There was a lot of work involved, and there’s always drama, but that didn’t really enter into [my decision]. At the end of the day this probably would have happened one way or another,” he said.
Lalor took the reins in October 2017, at a time when there was also drama within the RTC. Lalor stepped in to replace Al Alper, the longtime RTC chair who had stepped down after losing the party’s nomination to run as a candidate for the Board of Selectmen and deciding to run as a petition candidate anyway. Moreover, Lalor had to run crisis control after the discovery of racially tinged Facebook posts made by one of the RTC’s Board of Education candidates. The ensuing controversy and backlash cost the party that BOE seat.
He addressed the controversies outwardly through the 2017 campaign, as well as internally for the longterm, with a concerted effort to restructure and rebrand over the course of his tenure. One year into his post, Lalor told GMW, “Yes, both of those things hurt the RTC. Of course they were distractions and an impediment to what the rest of us are trying to accomplish. What I have tried to emphasize about the RTC since becoming chair is that we are a diverse group: educators, small business owners, parents, veterans, retirees, immigrants, et cetera. We really can’t be pigeon holed and we are more than any individual member.”
Fast forward to 2019, he says he’s proud of what has been accomplished in the two years since he took on the leadership role.
“There’s no question that we turned things around in the last two years. in terms of fundraising, the group’s day-to-day functioning, transparency, and obviously in our ability to win elections. My goal was to turn things around and get people people working in the same direction. We did that and we recruited good candidates and had a great Election Day last Tuesday.”
As outgoing chair, he’s reluctant to point to anyone who he thinks would be a good successor.
“There’s obviously people who are qualified to do the work, but it would be premature for me to say. We’re going to have a caucus where the entire membership is up for re-election in January and there could be a lot of new faces. And it’s really their decision to decide who chairs,” Lalor says, adding that he plans to stay on and involved as a member.
He does want to offer input on how the RTC moves forward. “I think there are some structural changes that would be helpful, in terms of how the town committees are operating–rules and bylaws that are pretty old and need to be updated and modernized. I’m going to offer to work with the group and make some recommendations so that when the new RTC is seated in March it can consider some changes for the way it operates.”
Lalor declined to elaborate on what changes he had in mind until talking further with the RTC members.
One thing Lalor is also proud of the good relationship and open communication he’s had with Democratic Town Committee chair Tom Dubin.
“There’s no question Tom and I have had a good relationship. I have a lot of respect for Tom. I told him on Election night that I thought they ran a civil and honorable campaign, and I think the voters appreciated that no matter who they voted for. I have no reason to think that won’t continue under the next chair. We’ve made great strides on keeping things cordial and focusing on town issues, and avoiding personal attacks during town discussions. I think that will continue,” he says.
CORRECTION: Lalor became chair of the RTC in October 2017, not the summer of that year. The article has been updated to reflect the correct timing.