Wilton’s GOP and Dems See Uptick in Involvement for Tuesday’s Caucus [UPDATE]

UPDATE, JAN. 9–The DTC has rescheduled its caucus from Jan. 9 to Tuesday, Jan. 16. For details why, read our story here.

Listen up, Wilton! Here’s a chance to have your voice be heard in the political process.

Well, that’s the case for Wilton voters who are registered in the two major political parties. Those residents will have the opportunity to get more involved and have a say in local politics tomorrow, Tuesday evening, Jan. 9. That’s when both of Wilton’s local party organizations–the Republican Town Committee (RTC) and the Democratic Town Committee–hold their bi-annual meetings to caucus on new members.

One good precursor–both parties are reporting a rise in interest and participation, reversing Wilton’s past trend of low turnout and declining numbers of volunteers.

The RTC has 40 open seats, for which 43 people have put their names into contention (list below)–some of whom switched from unaffiliated to registered Republican to be able to have the chance to join the RTC. Over at the DTC, the number of member seats has been increased by five additional spots, from 29 to 34, reflecting the rise in the number of registered Democrats in Wilton.

According to state election laws, the major party town committees hold open caucuses to fill those seats every two years. As is the case for both parties, anyone can attend the meetings, but only Wilton residents registered as Republicans can vote at the RTC caucus, and similarly only residents registered as Democrats are eligible to participate in theirs.

Why is it worth it to get involved? The 2018 midterm elections promise to be very exciting, with a lot at stake in races at both the federal and the state levels. Given the state’s growing fiscal problems as well as the uncertainty and discord happening in presidential and national politics, it’s more critical than ever for citizens to exercise their right to vote.

In 2018, Connecticut voters will choose a new Governor and Lieutenant Governor in November, as well as vote on their state senators, state representatives, and every major category of state official–Secretary of State, Treasurer, Comptroller and Attorney General. At the federal level, the terms of both Sen. Chris Murphy and Rep. Jim Himes are up and all eyes are on what will happen in Congress at the midterms. Finally, at the local level, Wilton will also vote for a Judge of Probate. And local political organizations can have an impact

Here’s how things break down for each of the town committee caucuses:

DTC

The DTC will meet at Comstock Community Center, meeting at 7:30 p.m. for its regular monthly meeting, and then begin the caucus at 8 p.m..

“This is an important night for Wilton and we invite all registered Democrats to attend and participate,” says acting DTC chair Tom Dubin. who adds, “Democrats have seen a substantial increase in the numbers of people interested in participating in the political process, as well as the level of those people’s engagement. This is largely related to concerns regarding the changed direction of the country and the tone being set by the President and national Republican leadership. It is also related to several recent national Republican actions such as elimination of State and Local Tax deductibility.”

Individuals who have already submitted their names to the DTC will be presented to those in attendance. The floor will also open to anyone who wants to add his/her name for consideration or nominate someone else. At that point all registered Democrats present will be able to vote. Those approved by the majority will be considered “endorsed” nominees.

People who do not receive an endorsement at the caucus may decide to challenge those endorsed candidates through a primary on March 6 (for which they’d need to follow state statutes to petition and secure signatures). DTC officials say that’s unlikely to occur.

If nobody files for a primary challenge, the endorsed nominees will be deemed lawfully elected as of Jan. 31, 2018. They’ll become members at the DTC’s first meeting in March, when new officers will also be elected.

RTC

For its caucus, the RTC will meet at the Wilton Town Hall Annex, starting at 7 p.m..

By RTC party rules, anyone who wished to be considered for nomination to the membership must have already submitted his/her name in writing by Dec. 28, 2017. As a result, the RTC slate of possible nominees is already set, with 43 people vying for 40 spots. Unlike the DTC, nominations cannot be made from the floor of the RTC meeting.

Anyone registered as a Republican in Wilton can vote, and the 40 people they endorse become the nominees for membership. Those who do not get chosen have until Jan. 31 to petition to be put on the ballot for the primary on March 6. That hasn’t happened for the RTC in the past, but with more people in consideration that there are seats this year, it still remains to be seen if it will happen. The new members won’t be seated until after the March 6 primary date.

Like their Democratic counterparts, a first meeting will then be called under state law at which RTC officers will be elected.

Some long-standing RTC members have surprisingly opted not to put their names into contention again this year, most notably former RTC chair Al AlperGOOD Morning Wilton sent a request for comment about his decision, but have not heard back at press time.

Here is the list of candidates who have submitted their names to be considered for nomination to the RTC:

Lianne Acosta-Rua
Gary Battaglia
Libby Bufano
Lori Bufano
Joe Burke
Eric Cameron
Anthony Cenatiempo
Josh Cole
George Cross
Don Drummond
Christine Finkelstein
Bill Follett
Anna Marie Francello Bilella
Marianne Gustafson
Rudy Hoefling
Jerry Holdridge
Prasad Iyer
William Lalor
Gail Lavielle
Carol Lenihan
Bruce Likly
Michael Lindberg
Marissa Lowthert
Jim Lucas
Ken MacCallum
Dan Mahony
Hella McSweeny
Phil Murphy
Ed Papp Papp
Joe Peres
Lisa Pojano
Andrea Preston
Don Sauvigne
Miriam Sayegh
Bill Schmauch
Warren Serenbetz
Tracy Serpa
Annalisa Stravato
Ray Tobiassen
Chuck Wessendorf
Michael Witted
Jennie Wong
Peter Wrampe