At their bi-annual caucus last night, Wilton Republicans nominated 37 people to be members of the Republican Town Committee for the 2020-2022 term. On the surface, the meeting was relatively straightforward and swift. Rules of the RTC state that the top 40 vote getters would earn the nomination, but because only 37 people had stepped forward to be considered for those 40 available slots, Republicans walked into the meeting knowing that all 37 would be nominated.
Below the surface, it was less straightforward.
Because all 37 candidates would automatically get the nod, RTC officials had originally proposed to hold a vote on all the candidates as one complete slate. However, not everyone wanted to vote on the entire slate at once; a proposal was made to vote on each individual candidate, one by one. While even one vote in favor of a candidate would earn that individual a membership spot, holding an individual tally vote would indicate just how much–or how little–support a candidate had from the group.
The group of approximately 40 people present debated which way to proceed–at one point a straw poll was held that seemed to show the group was split 21-19 on which option was preferred, with voting the entire slate slightly edging out an individual tally. However, when it came time to formally decide what to do, the group voted 36-5 to move forward on simply voting yea/nay on the whole slate.
“There was some lively discussion on it and in the end, more people voted to go with the slate vote as opposed to an individual vote. Because I think the feeling was that there wasn’t really any reason to do it–because it wouldn’t really change any results,” said Joshua Cole, RTC vice chairman. (Former chair Bill Lalor had stepped down at the end of 2019, and a new chair won’t be elected until after the new RTC members are officially seated in March.)
Then it came time to hold the vote on the slate. Although a handful of people left before the vote took place there were still 34 Republican voters who stayed to vote, approving the slate 32-2.
First Selectwoman Lynne Vanderslice confirmed that she voted against the slate along with one other town official: “[Planning & Zoning Commission chair] Rick Tomasetti and I voted ‘no’.”
Vanderslice said she felt it was her responsibility to vote against the slate, referring to one specific person running on it–Michael Powers. While she didn’t name him explicitly, she mentioned the lawsuit Powers has filed against the town.
“I attended the RTC caucus because one of the individuals on the slate has caused and continues to cause the Town to waste thousands of taxpayer dollars on frivolous litigation. As first selectwoman, I thought it necessary to do what I did to support the Town and the taxpayers,” Vanderslice commented.
In a bit of coincidental timing, last night brought other news about Powers’ lawsuit: while his lawsuit against the town, the Board of Selectmen and specific town officials was dismissed in December, Powers has formally filed an appeal.
As for the full slate, the list appears below. Some longtime members did not step forward this time but there are 10 new faces among the 37. [See the list approved two years ago for comparison.]
Cole is enthusiastic about the group as a whole.
“We’re happy to have 10 new people who raised their hand to volunteer and are eager to get involved with the town–10 brand new members that were not on the RTC the previous two years. And we’re really excited to have some new people with different backgrounds and experiences and interests to help support our candidates in the coming elections,” he said.
Endorsed nominees for 2020-2022 RTC Membership:
Anna Marie Francello Bilella