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Norwalk's Democrats Look for Answers

NORWALK, Conn. – Norwalk's Democrats outlined plans to take back the city Monday night in the wake of a District B election that challenged endorsed Democratic Town Committee members and a major Common Council defection.

The first meeting of the current Democratic Town Committee was held just four days after Councilman Michael Geake left the Democratic Party , became unaffiliated and announced he would join the Republican caucus. The defection came after last Tuesday's election, when Geake's wife was one of the party's endorsed candidates but lost her seat. With his defection, the council now features seven Democrats, seven Republican and Geake.

Monday night's committee meeting began with the unanimous re-election of Marc Bradley as chairman. "I think we have an opportunity as a city to not only push forward and build on the gains we made in the last election, but in the presidential this coming November and onto the next election in 2013," he said. The goal was to make up those "700 votes" – the number of votes that Democratic mayoral challenger Andy Garfunkel lost by in the race against incumbent Republican Mayor Richard Moccia last fall. He said Democrats need to "elect a mayor and take back not just a simple majority that flip-flops with the wind but one that takes control of the city."

Bradley said the Democrats had done a great job fundraising but need to do better to take back the city. Then he addressed more recent events.

"I know we've had battles recently with the primary, I know that we've had some battles internally over the last couple of years and I think a lot of suggestions recently that have come up are good ones," Bradley said, adding that the party may enlist the help of outside mediators. "There are some issues that go back 10 to 20 to 30 years in some cases, but they are issues that we have never really stopped and dealt with. I didn't stop and deal with them in the last two years, and I think we should. I think two or three people have suggested names of mediators that can come in and have a good open discussion about how to bring our group together because I think we will all benefit in the end."

Common Councilman Matt Miklave also spoke of a need to revamp. "Recently we had some disappointing news, and our road became a little bit tougher," he said. "We have to be prepared for obstacles. And what that means is, we have to be think anew about who we are."

The meeting was congenial and optimistic until the potential ramifications of Geake's switch became apparent: Common Councilman Carvin Hilliard announced that Democrats may lose one member on each council committee. Outraged members expressed shock and vowed to research the legalities involved.

In more routine business, officers were elected for the two-year committee: Vice Chairman Brenda Penn-Williams, Recording Secretary Galen Wells, Treasurer Peter Thor and Corresponding Secretary Phaedral Bowman.

Susan Wallerstein suggested recruiting people to serve on committees and boards. Common Councilman Warren Pena suggested "getting college level Democrats involved in the process" by approaching local universities for interns.

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