The Wilton Democratic Town Committee (DTC) honored two residents at its annual spring breakfast on April 6. John Kalamarides received the Democratic Leadership Award, and Ross Tartell received the Democrat of the Year Award.

Several high-profile Democrats, including U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal, U.S. Representative Jim Himes and State Senator Will Haskell, among others attended to honor the time, expertise and commitment both men have devoted to Wilton over the years with service on town boards. DTC officials credit the two with strengthen the Wilton Democratic party and guiding it forward with their service.

Kalamarides has been a leading figure in Wilton since he first moved to the town over 40 years ago. He quickly became an important member of the community through leadership roles at the YMCA of Stamford, the Wilton Track Association and Wilton Boy Scouts Troop 20. Kalamarides and his wife, Kathleen, are co-presidents of the Darien Cotillion and he also serves as president of the Kiwanis Club of Wilton.

Tartell is a human resource professional with expertise in learning and development, change management and executive coaching. He has held senior positions at GE Capital Real Estate and Pfizer. He also has been an adjunct associate professor of psychology and education at Columbia University since 1996. Tartell ran for state representative in 2018.

The bipartisan crowd of 100 welcomed CT Secretary of State Denise Merrill as keynote speaker. Merrill discussed the importance of voting rights, saying, “Between 2016 and 2018 over 300,000 voters registered. Almost a third were between 18 and 24. I feel like I’ve waited my whole life to see this generation come to life. And I think it just did.”

To achieve the goal of making it “truly possible for everyone to vote,” Merrill said Connecticut should join the “40 states that offer voting on days other than Tuesday. We are not exactly radicals in thinking there are other days you should be able to vote.”

Both Blumenthal and Himes offered insights from their vantage points in Washington while imploring those present to get involved in the political process on both local and federal levels. Haskell spoke of the progress in Hartford regarding sensible gun legislation and making Connecticut a competitive destination for young professionals.

Lt. Governor Susan Bysiewicz and State Representative Jonathan Steinberg were also in attendance.