Norwalk Council Democrats Sharing Leadership Role

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At-Large Common Councilman Warren Peña, a Democrat, is selected to be the Norwalk group's minority leader. He will split the year with fellow Democrat David Watts.
At-Large Common Councilman Warren Peña, a Democrat, is selected to be the Norwalk group's minority leader. He will split the year with fellow Democrat David Watts. Photo Credit: Alfred Branch
Republican At-Large Councilman Doug Hempstead was again chosen to be majority leader of the  Norwalk Common Council.
Republican At-Large Councilman Doug Hempstead was again chosen to be majority leader of the Norwalk Common Council. Photo Credit: Alfred Branch

NORWALK, Conn. – Norwalk Common Council members Doug Hempstead and Warren Peña have been selected to lead their caucuses heading into the New Year.

For Peña, an at-large freshman member of the body, the appointment as minority leader marks a first on two fronts. He is the first Latino council member selected as minority leader, and he will split the one-year tenure with fellow Democrat David Watts of District A. Peña will take the reins for the first six months, and Watts for the second six.

Peña and Watts are taking over the post from at-large member Anna Duleep, who said the two new leaders both wanted the role but worked out an amiable compromise.

“I look forward to the council having more open debates,” Peña said. “I also hope to be a voice for some in the city who haven’t been heard.”

Hempstead, an at-large Republican and longtime council member, returns as majority leader, and he said Tuesday he was honored to continue in the post.

“I hope our conversations continue in a manner that supports this city,” he told Mayor Richard Moccia, a fellow Republican, and the council.

That goal will be put to the test early as Hempstead and his party seek to smooth the frayed emotions of some members over the occasionally combative nature of the current council, which led to the resignation this week of Republican Council member Joanne T. Romano.

In discussing her reason for resigning, Romano cited her frustrations with “grandstanding” and “personal attacks” among the Republican and Democrat memberships.

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Comments (10)

Thank you Warren and all who have taken the time to help Norwalk.Now if we can crack all the bad eggs in this next year and get rid of those who would rather stand beside our Mayor and base decisons on what is reported in the news.Norwalks media has let their redership dow by reporting a story without pros and cons for the taxpayers.Injustice has been done by our leadership that line down the middle of the council floor needs to be removed.Looks like a handful of councilors will do it.

Mr.Pena as a Latino and not being born in this country but a citizen of this great country. A piece of advice, Please keep on doing what you are doing. Do what you do because you are Warren Pena not Latino Warren Pena.We are all proud we are from and grandparents are from but we should be proud that we are Americans most importnt.

Want to make a difference in the latino community then do it but not with the press.
So be proud and work hard because nothing is given to you.

I see the point about "firsts," but must point out how important those "firsts" can be to one's community. There is a quote (attributed to the late Gov. Ann Richards, I think) where she describes visiting an elementary school. A little boy asked her, "Can boys be Governors too?" Adults find that funny, but for a boy who had only met one (female) Governor, it was a realistic question.

When I was appointed to the Common Council in 2009, we were trying to figure out how many Councilors had been of Indian descent. Because outgoing Councilman Doug Sutton (and my family) knew the late former Councilman Ram Hingorani, we knew there had been an Indian man - once. We came to believe I was the first female of Indian descent (to be appointed, be elected, serve as Majority Leader, and -thanks to Mike Geake- serve as Minority Leader!).

At my DTC election to fill Doug Sutton's seat, we had dozens of Indians -some from neighboring Stamford- and one little brown girl sitting near the front. Because she saw a politician who looked like her, she knew she could run for office too. I am told there were members of the Indian community who thought I was beating Rep. Larry Cafero in 2010 because the news switched our numbers. Of course I lost, but just the IDEA that a female Indian challenger could unseat the Minority Leader himself was inspiring.

So it's not about only serving one's ethnic community. As President Obama says, we serve everybody - whether they voted for us or not. It's just that, when you're the only one (from whichever group), there is a pressure to be an example. If I choose not to run, it's more than a personal choice; it's (in a sense) letting my community down. If there happen to be plenty of Indian Norwalkers running that year, then I'm not letting anybody down. The burden of representing is off any one person's shoulders. As much as I hate the policies of Gov. Nikki Haley and Gov. Bobby Jindal, and would NEVER vote for either, I do have some level of pride in their accomplishments.

Councilwoman Duleep,

Thanks for your eloquent comment. You make valid points, but don't you think that if Councilman Pena is going to claim to be the first Latino Council Leader, he should be certain that it's actually true before he says it?

According to what's been said below, Mr. Pena is NOT the first Latino Council Leader.

Guillermo Arteaga was a wonderful man who also served on the council. I only got to know him in the last two years of his life, but he was a gentleman. I don't know if he was in a leadership position. He probably was.

Let me just say I am sick of this hole racial thing. Mr Pena you were voted on to the council by the people of Norwalk because of what you said, you would do, or what you could do to make Norwalk a better place (not because you are a LATINO). Frankly I don`t care what your race is all`s I want to see and here is that your keeping your promise to the public if you don`t do that move on don`t waist our time and yours. Norwalk needs leaders out there that will step up and do the wright thing for the PEOPLE,After all they are the ones that put there trust in you on election day. So please stop, you are a Norwalk citizen an elected offical listen to the people first and then from your heart. Good luck to you and David.
Al Raymond

Is anybody else sick of "firsts?".

"He is the first Latino council member selected as minority leader,"

That's odd. I thought Judy Rivas was minority leader at one point. Does anyone else remember that?

I am fairly certain Judy Rivas was minority leader. I served with her in the late 90s, and I seem to remember her taking that position.