A Letter to District E Voters
By Annie Allen
I have been reluctant to become involved in Norwalk politics until recently. Alongside seven running mates, I won the District E caucus on January 10, 2022. We are now being challenged in a March 1 primary as well as being accused of being Republican “insurgents” trying to infiltrate and take over the Democratic Town Committee. These allegations could not be further from the truth. They are both insulting and absurd. Not one of us has ever been a Republican. I want to give my voting neighbors some background so they can, once again, vote for me and my fellow candidates to represent their interests.
I have been asked by friends to run for the Democratic Town Committee (DTC) in District E for years. As a busy full-time television journalist covering National politics my entire career, caring for my young children, and participating in numerous volunteer commitments, I was not able to add the additional responsibility of being a member of the DTC before this year. As a journalist, I worked exceptionally hard to be fair and make editorial decisions without my personal opinions involved. I did not officially declare a party affiliation until recently for that reason.
For me, voting for candidates has always been about issues AND character. I want to vote for people with sound judgment, sound humanity, and the actual desire to represent those who elect them. People who actually care about the members of their community - not just their own political power and their own egos.
I admit it, I decided to run for the DTC due to the direction of the Board of Education (BOE). To me, public schools should be one of the greatest priorities in any town. It impacts everything in our community. Instead of being the type of parent who just complains in private, I chose to do something about it with action. I am proud that I am a parent who cares deeply about my children’s education and decided to get involved in many ways (School Governance Council and PTA included) to make sure the schools are being prioritized appropriately.
Since getting more involved, I have learned many different ways I could start to have an impact in the community even beyond education. Knowing that the DTC determines who gets the Democratic Party endorsement on the ballot - this felt like a place where I could be involved at the ground level in helping choose quality candidates for seats on the Board of Education as well as other important local offices like the Common Council, and beyond to statewide offices where we are represented in Hartford.
On December 1, I attended a District E Committee meeting to recommend a candidate to fill the BOE seat recently vacated by Mike Barbis’s untimely passing - I was there to support Jody Sattler for that seat. The way Jody was treated at that meeting was just plain appalling. Jody Sattler had so much support (including coming in a close 5th in the at-large election just weeks before) and so many of us attended that District E meeting to support her getting Mike’s vacated seat - and yet the few voting members of the committee that showed up for the meeting chose someone who has never taught in Norwalk Public Schools, never had a child at Norwalk Public Schools, had never run for the seat, had never publicly expressed any desire to have the seat and who at her first BOE meeting, didn’t even know that NPS students don’t wear uniforms. She was just picked by the District E Democrats so that they did NOT have to pick Jody Sattler and this was one of the more blatant displays of pettiness, spite, and poor judgment I have ever seen. In addition, the absence of so many voting members showed just how little they respected the importance of this role.
That December 1 District E meeting, and then almost every subsequent meeting and interaction I have had with my opponents since, has shown repeatedly that they are in this for themselves and their own power alone. From nasty and untruthful Facebook, Twitter and TikTok posts, many misleading and misguiding robocalls, to being yelled at on caucus night as if I were a child, to one of the candidates walking up to a voter’s house asking for her to sign the petition for a primary to “keep the Rowayton people out,” and then to Priscilla Feral’s untruthful Letter to the Editor last week where she accused me and my fellow running mates of being “interlopers” who “gamed the system,” and then to be repeatedly called “insurgents” because we did exactly what DTC Chair Eloisa Melendez told us to do: get involved and run for a seat.
Eloisa herself hosted a Zoom meeting on December 16, 2021 where she explained to us all how the caucus worked, how to run, and answered all of our questions on the rules. We did not surprise or sneak attack anyone.
How is rightfully running for office and winning a seat gaming the system?
This is the time for me to show my children and Norwalk’s children what it looks like to go high when they go low.
The homepage of the Norwalk DTC says: “Norwalk’s Democrats work every day towards a bright future for our city but we need you to join the party. Working with the NDTC, you’ll become an active participant in the community and have a meaningful impact on our future.” If this were true, they would have been thanking us for getting a truly unprecedented number of Democrats engaged and voting in a caucus and they would have been asking us how we could best work together. Instead, they have tried to create a false narrative and tell lies about us all over town. I can assure you of this - they do NOT want you to be an active participant unless you are hand-picked by them.
The current slate that they claim is balanced includes the Mayor’s wife who only attended three District E meetings last year, two Board of Education members - including the chairman, the Registrar of Voters, and one of the mayor’s attorneys. These people already have seats at the table - that is not any balance of thought in my eyes. This incestuous group is just trying to silence any voice that is not theirs.
Priscilla Feral (a Rowayton resident herself) and our other opponents want you to believe that too many Rowayton residents create an imbalance. Last time I checked, Rowayton residents were Norwalk residents and taxpayers just like every other resident. The people I am running with - Aimee Malloy Ableman, Todd DeKlyn, Sara Ingrassia, Camille Legnani, Alyson W. Smith, Sarah Wayland, and Jody Sattler - are some of the best, most honorable, most hard-working, and GOOD people I have ever had the privilege of knowing. Our thoughts are different, unique, and are not solely shaped by our own egos or connection to the Mayor. And every one of us is in this for the right reasons - to represent ALL of District E with open-mindedness and clear eyes and to do our best to bring openness, honor and integrity back to the city and District E of the Democratic Town Committee.
All eight of us won the January 10 District E caucus fairly - even if it was close. Ed Camacho himself won his first election to the DTC by only one vote. The only reasons the other side is challenging us to the March 1 primary are power, spite, ego and revenge - not because they want to represent any one of you.
Please come and vote for honesty, honor and integrity on March 1.