The city might see an uneventful February and March for the first time in decades. Last week, the Republican and Democratic Town Committees conducted their biennial caucuses to determine who will sit on the the panels for the next two years.
Every even-numbered year following the municipal elections, the two steering committees for the major political parties fill out their membership. Each party has a town committee of 60 members, with six members representing each of the 10 council districts.
According to Democratic Town Chairman Michael Last and his Republican counterpart Pat Libero, the caucuses saw very little in the way of controversy, and were dispatched in a minimum amount of time. That is particularly noteworthy for the Democrats, who have had primaries for town committee each term going back to the 1990s.
“The Democratic Caucus was held at the West Haven High School Cafeteria on Thursday Jan. 9 and there were over 100 people in attendance,” said last. “The caucus went smoothly and lasted about 20 minutes. Sixty individuals were nominated and party-endorsed for the next town committee, which begins in March. There were no opposition slates or individuals nominated, so the caucus was pretty uneventful. “
Last did note that potential candidates have until Jan. 29 to file for a primary, but the lack of opposition last week seems to indicate that might not be likely.
The Republican Party had some controversy during last fall’s municipal elections, and it had some wondering if there would be fallout come the caucuses. In fact, the Republican Town Committee saw some old faces voted off, and new faces replacing them, according to Libero.
The RTC caucus went smoothly with some upsets,” she said. “Several long time Republicans were voted off the RTC.”
As far as the goals for the new term, both chairmen saw the normal work of fundraising and candidate support as the major effort, but Last said he was hoping this term would have its own excitement.
“The next term of the Democratic Town Committee will hopefully see many new faces and more energy. It will be a fun time to be involved in politics as we will have a presidential election. There will be exciting races on the local, state and national level over the next couple of years. We hope to continue to get more people involved in the local party and be more active in the community whether its clean-ups, clubs or community-sponsored events,” he said.
Libero, meanwhile, was a bit more pragmatic for the minority party. With an almost 4-1 difference in party affiliation between Democrats and Republicans, she sees her job as working to build the party.
“The RTC goals are the usual: raise money, nominate, then elect great candidates, and get more folks registered,” she said. “The role of the RTC members is to be active- attend meetings, serve on committees and commissions, take an active, positive role in the community.”
Both chairmen understand that problems come with any large group, but both see the next term in a positive light.
“The next year we will work to elect a Democratic president and pass charter revision at the local level. The charter revision will require educating the electorate on the document which would overhaul the structure of our local government as we know it today,” said Last.
Libero said the problems in the GOP are a bit more of a personality nature.
“The problems are the usual — egos getting in the way, communication issues. Hopefully, these will be few and far between,” she said.
Both chairmen understand that getting a new “bench” of candidates is important for the future. Last said the Democrats have moved toward updating the party in order get new people interested.
“”We have been somewhat successful by updating our party rules that dated back to 1971 and bringing new ideas and more diversity to the committee. We will continue the effort to recruit people with new ideas and different backgrounds and experience,” he said.
Once again, Libero was more to the point.
“We hope to get new candidates and new people involved by demonstrating the Republican Town Committee gets things done,” she said.
As far as a primary, with the Jan. 29 deadline around the corner, Last, at least, is holding his breath hoping the city can avert another trek to the polls and the costs that are associated with it.