Norwalk Council's Kimmel, A Democrat, Switches Caucuses

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Common Council Democrat Bruce Kimmel has decided to caucus with Republicans on the council.
Common Council Democrat Bruce Kimmel has decided to caucus with Republicans on the council. Photo Credit: Contributed

NORWALK, Conn. – District D Democrat Bruce Kimmel, who has not caucused with his fellow Democrats for more than a year since winning re-election to the Norwalk Common Council, publicly switched caucuses last week and will spend his time with Republicans.

Kimmel said he will continue to be a Democrat but had grown tired of what he called an “obstructionist posture” by members of his party. He announced the move during the first council meeting of the year.

“After a year of attending most committee meetings, I was impressed by how Republican council members addressed the issues facing the city,” Kimmel said of his reason for switching caucuses. “They dug in, worked with staff and tried to come up with reasonable solutions. Unfortunately, there were often no Democratic caucus members at these meetings. I still have no idea where they were, why they were not attending.”

He continued, “Moreover, before the full Council, it seemed to me that the Democratic caucus members had consciously adopted an obstructionist posture, more concerned with the next election than governing the city. I believe all elected officials, whether in the majority or the minority, have a responsibility to govern.”

Council President Doug Hempstead, a Republican, said Kimmel approached him and other Republicans about joining their caucus “after Thanksgiving,” and no one had a problem with it.

“I’ve always enjoyed working with Bruce,” Hempstead said. “I think he was pleasantly surprised at how we try to talk things out.”

Over the past few years, Hempstead said both parties have at times taken on a “defensive mode” as it relates to governing and a certain level of “viciousness” has crept into the public discourse.

“In some ways, we seem to be moving toward how Congress behaves,” Kimmel said, adding that he has approached council Minority Leader Warren Peña about everyone trying to remain civil. 

But Democratic leaders do not support Kimmel’s move.

Peña said he believes Kimmel’s move was partially designed to help Mayor Richard Moccia control Democrats by giving him a super majority.

“I more than anyone reached out to Bruce in the past year,” said Peña. “I kept him in the loop with our discussions, asked him numerous times to join the caucus, to add value and perspective as I thought we Democrats could benefit from his experience. He refused because of past experiences with the party and a blowout after the 2011 November election.”

Members of the District D Democratic Committee signed a letter that took Kimmel to task for his switch.

“This time around, maybe Bruce Kimmel can find a home in the Moccia administration,” the committee wrote. “We have some advice for our republican colleagues, watch when Bruce is holding the ball. He may take it home with him when he doesn’t get his way.”

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Comments (13)

Bruce's problem with his fellow Democrats on the Council and the local Democratic organization is that he, unlike so many of them, has the day-to-day concerns of his constituents as his top priority. The same can be said for Councilman Michael Geake, who became so disgusted with the hyper-partisan, go-for-the jugular style of his fellow Democrats that he switched to Unaffiliated. The local Democrats have a problem. Their lust for power blinds them to how they are viewed by ordinary people.

I believe Councilman Fred Bondi is also a former Democrat who changed affiliation after taking a lot of flack for his independence and efforts at bipartisanship.

Our Mayor should also look into all the past shooting and stabbing Norwalk had this past weekend. And why COPS are sitting on my block Muffin Lane and scoping out my neighbors home becuase our drunken/high neighbor calls, because she doesn't like my other neighbor. I never see them sit and watcht he South Norwalk drug and gang arears. The gun violence is there too and that is the root to our problems in Norwalk.

Wait till Mr Kimmel discovers nobody trusts him anymore. Party loyalty is very important to both sides.

Making an arrest like that in another town is risky. Let's see how the court deals with this. It doesn't sound like they got any felonies and their power to make misdemeanor arrests outside their jurisdiction is limited.

Mr. Kimmel has worked across the aisle with members of the Republican party for the good of his district for years now. Bottom line... he is a respectable human being first, and an effective council member, second. Bruce does not have to prove that he can work with people of different mindsets and use his words to make convincing points. He is known for asking questions, weighing the pros and cons, and for doing his homework to fully understand the issues that come before him. He attends his committee meetings and is fully prepared. It is ludicrous to think that he is a threat to the Democratic Town Committee. It is obvious why they would like to discredit him because, try as they might, they cannot control him. It is hilarious to watch this group turn the tables after breaking the legs. This group of crass and self-serving upstarts do not represent Democratic principles which embrace diversified thought and tolerance for others. Bruce Kimmel is the adult in the room. He is the one true Democrat and the Norwalk Town Committee would do well to recognize this if it is to win votes in November.

I've respected Mr. Kimmel for a long time. I don't always agree with him, but he always has had my respect. When he is at a meeting, he always knows what the background information is and when he asks questions, it's clear what he is asking and, more importantly, why he is asking. Bottom line, his concern is for Norwalk - all of Norwalk.

However, I must say that I'm amazed at the level of surprise and indignation from the Democrats. When was the last time Mr. Kimmel attended a Democratic Council caucus? Anybody know? It's probably been a while. I've known for months now. Didn't anyone in the caucus notice? That should have been a major tip off.

Mr. Kimmel has always been one of council's more thoughtful, reasonable, and independent members. He rejects the bloviating and gamesmanship practiced by Watts, Miklave, Pena, et al. We are lucky Mr. Kimmel is a member of the Common Council.

It's worth noting that Kimmel is still a Democrat, he has simply opted to caucus with Republicans. I hope that in doing so he will continue the independence we have come to expect.

You are correct, it is worth noting he is still in the Democratic party. Its a breath of fresh air IMO to start seeing moderates interested in moving forward instead of just fighting for the team. I remember a time when there were liberal minded Republicans and Conservative Democrats. Though the party philosophies were similar to today they each realized that co operation & compromise was a good thing. They each tempered the other and fair rational discussion & legislation was the result.

Lots of hate and double std on the left.

I thought it was "courageous" to work across the aisle and "brave" to switch parties......

Funny, a Democrat jumps ship & its the republicans fault? Could be we just found a Democrat that can actually see whats going on & why. Good for him I say! Todays Democratic party, from the top down, is chock full of people with little desire to do anything meaningful other than deflect things away from the real issues in our city, state & country. In most ways they have been running the show in recent years and its about time people start waking up.

With any luck the amount of Norwalk police enforcement after Darien big bust in Norwalk will push the Kimmel hype off the front page and into the garbage where it belongs.

For those shedding a tear laughing so hard shows clearly the business at hand. To make Norwalk what it was before the Republicans came in and simply trashed the taxpayers wasn't going to get any help from Bill anyways.

This will help sink the Republican boat.Ballast comes in many forms.

Book smart he may be but politicians need to be street smart.

Maybe Bill can suggest giving the police awards out to Darien this bust they made at Best Buy was indeed a positive sign for the city of Norwalk.Maybe Bill can tell us how safe the residence of Suncrest Village felt seeing two white guys with guns along with a unmark car chasing a black kid into the complex.

The award is not for the bust but the mere fact no one told Norwalk police what was going on and made three arrests a all time high in one bust for Norwalk.

But I must use caution this jerk has friends at the INN.