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To The Editor:
I am a registered Democrat. And for about 15 years, I tried, without much success, to work with the local Democratic organization. Finally, last November, I decided I could not do it any longer; that it was a waste of time and emotional energy participating in an organization better known for fighting than governing.
In the summer of 2011, I was interviewed for almost three hours by Democrats in my district. It was a candid give and take, and I reminded them that I was an independent thinker, occasionally stubborn and believed elected officials should always place the interests of the city over the interests of a political party. They had a choice, and they chose to nominate me.
But Nov. 10, I witnessed yet another brawl – this time physical – caused by a barrage of race-baiting. That did it. I decided I was done participating in the local organization, including the Council caucus because it has long maintained a close relationship with the town committee. Interestingly, a rather large number of Democrats in the city said they appreciated my decision.
Not being a member of a caucus for an entire year was an enlightening experience. I needed to attend virtually all of the committee meetings and, as a result, developed a strong appreciation for how those other Norwalk residents – who were members of the Republican caucus – went about governing the city.
I eventually decided to join that caucus and was pleased to learn that party affiliation was not an issue. A properly functioning legislative caucus is basically a discussion group that addresses the issues facing the city. I am still a Democrat. I still represent the interests of the people who elected me.
I harbor no ill will toward local Democrats. Many of us agree that the party has a history of factionalism, character assassination and silly bickering. I just came to a different conclusion: When they said a thick skin was needed to participate in the local party, I disagreed and argued that the constant discord was the reason so many party activists have left the party and why Republicans have controlled the mayor’s office for 22 of the last 26 years, even though the Democrats have 6,000 more registered voters in the city than the Republicans.
As the saying goes, there is no Republican or Democratic way to pave a street. While the local Republicans and I have philosophical and political differences on issues such as the role of government, deficit spending or foreign policy, we agree on most major local issues. And they seem to be very interested in what I’m interested in: the nitty-gritty of running a city.
To me, it makes perfect sense to caucus with this group of Norwalk residents.
I am not the only Democrat who has been driven out of the party or into the Republican caucus. Unfortunately, the local Democratic organization has decided to address this problem by having all candidates for public office sign a pledge or loyalty oath before being nominated.
In Norwalk, all future Democratic candidates will have to answer to the local town committee and not the people who elected them. What could be sadder than that?
Common Council Member, Democrat, District D