STAMFORD – Someone Monday shot a gun at a businessman who is running for mayor of Louisville, Ky.
Craig Greenberg was in his campaign office when multiple bullets came at him. One ripped through his clothing but missed his body. Louisville police quickly arrested a suspect outside the building.
Police determined that the first-time candidate was targeted, but said it was unclear whether the shooting had to do with politics, the fact that Greenberg is Jewish, or issues with the suspect’s mental health.
Closer to home is a non-violent case involving a Darien school board member. Tara Ochman last week reported receiving in the mail two handwritten letters, apparently from the same person, vilifying her for supporting the state’s Open Choice program, which seeks to diversify school districts in wealthy, mostly white towns.
The Darien school board rejected the program, which would have accepted 16 kindergartners from Norwalk in the fall. The letter writer called Ochman a “bitch” and a “liberal phony,” saying “turning Darien into the woke slums will make our taxes rise.” The writer told Ochman to “move to Norwalk.”
Ochman said Monday she posted the letters on Facebook hoping people will question the hate.
“I’m saying, ‘C’mon, people, is this really what we want?’” Ochman said. “I don’t feel afraid, but we are seeing extreme points of view, and I am concerned that I have to weigh my responsibilities to my family against my responsibilities to the public.”
Ochman said she was advised to remove her home address from websites as much as she can.
Stamford legislators have been doing that.
Members of the Board of Representatives for decades have posted their home addresses – along with a photo, phone number and email address – on the city’s website. The idea is to make it as easy as possible for their constituents to reach them.
But a check shows that 27 of the 40 representatives now list their address as 888 Washington Blvd., the Stamford Government Center, and one lists a post office box.
“I don’t think anyone in politics should put their home address online,” said city Rep. Jeff Stella, a District 9 Democrat and former New York Police Department detective. “This doesn’t happen in New York. I don’t understand why Connecticut is so laid-back about this. What are we waiting for? Something to happen?”
When he first became a city representative more than four years ago, Stella asked that Stamford police post officers in hallways outside the rooms where the government meets.
“The concern has only grown. Since COVID, since the 2020 presidential election, officials across the country have been attacked. People who are not in a good place feel a need to blame someone, and we are the ones making policies that affect their lives,” Stella said. “Maybe I see the ugly side of things because I was a police officer, but it seems to me Connecticut is saying, ‘Nothing ugly can happen.’”
City Rep. Denis Patterson, a Democrat from District 6, said he understands why elected officials are fearful.
“Society is evolving in the wrong direction,” Patterson said “Sometimes you take an unpopular vote. People worry about their kids.”
But he is one of the 12 city lawmakers whose address still is posted online.
“I think it’s important for my constituents to know that I am part of the community, especially with some of the issues we have downtown,” Patterson said. “They can see that I am experiencing these issues along with them. I intend to leave my address up.”
So does city Rep. Bobby Pavia, a District 17 Democrat, even though he was “not at all surprised” to hear that someone shot at a mayoral candidate in Louisville on Monday.
“The temperature is very high in this country now,” Pavia said.
He hopes to bring down the heat by demonstrating that he understands the frustration his constituents feel, Pavia said.
“I live in an apartment on Hope Street. It’s congested. I’m trying to raise awareness about traffic, speeding, whether we have enough of a police presence,” Pavia said. “By putting up my address, I think I help my constituents see that I understand.”
It’s part of living in a democracy, Ochman said.
“Our government is set up for us to debate and come to an answer, even if we have totally different opinions,” she said. “I believe in democracy. It allows for different voices to be heard. I believe we are stronger for it. But there is a line that we should not be crossing.”