Norwalk Independent Party Chair Endorses Gomes, Checks & Balances

John Gomes announced on Jan. 31, 2024, that he will not concede the mayoral race to Joe Ganim after a Democratic primary redo ( CT Examiner).

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To the Editor:

I want to commend Democrat mayoral candidate, John Gomes and those Bridgeport’s voters hanging in, one more time, for the court ordered general election on February 27th. It’s not easy taking on the status quo in one’s political party, but somebody’s got to stand up for democracy, election integrity, and ultimately election reform.   I’m elated John Gomes is doing just that and of the small role the Independent Party is playing in offering him our ballot line.

Hartford’s Silence is Deafening.

Bridgeport’s absentee ballot irregularities (to put in mildly) are legendary. Gomes isn’t the first candidate to experience ballot harvesting in Bridgeport and certainly won’t be the last, unless Democrat state officials do something about it.   Both Governor Lamont and Secretary of State, Stephanie Thomas need to acknowledge and disavow Bridgeport’s election crimes.  Could their silence be due to the fact that the same group, Park City Consulting LLC, responsible for ballot harvesting in Bridgeport, delivers votes for statewide elections?  In six years, three Superior Court Judges have ordered four new Democratic primaries due to absentee ballot irregularities.  This cycle will continue in Bridgeport until the legislature and the Governor take action this session.

Do We Still Need Absentee Ballots?

Connecticut was one of the last states in the US to adopt early voting. With Public Act 23-5, Connecticut now allows 14 days early voting for general elections, 7 days for most primaries and 4 days for special elections. Is there really any need for absentee ballots and drop boxes when absentee ballot fraud is so often linked to praying on the disabled and elderly? I think not.

Party Versus Community Loyalty

Longtime Bridgeport Dem Party Chairman, Mario Testa’s letter to State Party Chair, Nancy DiNardo claiming Gomes was “undermining the sacred principles of party loyalty” was amusing, considering Ganim has third party option of the New Movement line had he lost the Primary.  If Gomes had not also sought the Independent line, garnering nearly 40% of the general vote in November’s election, would the public even have had a choice on the ballot? Could it be that Bridgeport Dems have finally had enough of Ganim, when an overwhelming majority of Bridgeporters chose candidates other than Ganim in the November 7th election.

Concentrated power in a single party has everything to do with special interests and little to do with with democracy, serving constituents or improving one’s city. Loyalty should be measured by commitment to community before political party. Statistics that put Bridgeport near the bottom in Connecticut and nationally in terms of cost of living, housing, jobs and student achievement can be directly attributed to cronyism, and a political system that all but ensures career politicians like Joe Ganim are returned to office legally or illegally 95% of the time.

Is Democracy Only Threatened In Bridgeport?

As a Norwalk resident for 26 years, former mayoral candidate, local activist and lifelong independent, I have briefly registered Democrat or Republican in order to vote in Connecticut’s closed primary system; again, another area where our state lags the nation.

That’s why, a couple of years ago, I resurrected the Independent Party in Norwalk, because like Bridgeport, we’re a single party town, with power, money and city jobs concentrated in the hands of a few. While we don’t have Bridgeport’s absentee ballot fraud, we’ve got our own ‘friends and family’ issues.

For example, six term mayor, Harry Rilling and his 14-1 city council didn’t see any issues with our 2023 municipal general election moderator being a partisan operative or wife of the Democrat Registrar of Voters.

Or, that our council is supporting the process of a single person, the Council President (also a city hall employee) selecting all members of Norwalk’s Redistricting Committee – a group responsible for redrawing the city’s voting boundaries. Even Bridgeport and neighboring Danbury and Stamford allow their minority leader to appoint ‘true’ opposition members for that electoral and supposedly ‘democratic’ exercise.

Not that Norwalk needs help with gerrymandering or concentrated power. Our city charter (one of only 3 municipalities in the state) makes NO provision for minority party or opposition representation on the city council or Board of Education. Norwalk has a 14-1 Dem council and 9-0 Board of Education, despite 45 percent of the electorate consistently voting differently.

What I suspect Bridgeport and Norwalk Democrats do have in common is the ‘not so subtle bullying’ that goes on in town committees and closed caucuses. Succumbing to the bullying and pressure is even more disheartening. I was disappointed to learn that City of Norwalk employee and recent Bridgeport Mayoral candidate, Lamond Daniels decided to make the surprising decision to endorse the status quo in Mayor Joe Ganim, after running on a message of change against the incumbent. More than just Daniels supporters were disappointed that he decided to tip the scale in favor of Ganim.

We Need Checks & Balances.

The concept of checks and balances was to limit the power of a single individual, body of government or party. Concentrated power in Connecticut’s cities has bred cronyism, conflicts of interest, pay to play and yes, blatant corruption – like Bridgeport’s ballot box stuffing.

That’s why, I support and wish brave John Gomes nothing but heartfelt success and am happy that Independents along with frustrated Democrats and Republicans have potentially, a small role to play in his victory.

Bridgeport deserves it.

We ALL deserve election integrity. If Connecticut’s leaders really care about preserving ‘democracy’ they’ll take up overdue election reform this legislative session in Hartford.

Lisa Brinton
Norwalk, CT

Lisa Brinton chairs Independent Party in Norwalk and is a member of the Independent State Central Committee