My Political Star Rises
Everyone knows about the Democratic and Republican parties on the national level. But, I suspect most of you don’t realize there are local versions of the same in every town across America. These Town Committees follow the by-laws as passed by their State Central committees which in turn subscribes to the rules of the national committees. They’re the ones who actually figure out how to run the campaigns for the various elected officials from Mayor to Dog Catcher.
I got sucked in to local politics through the Fairfield DTC. While I had eschewed entreaties to run for the Representative Town Meeting for some time, Ken Flatto, the town’s three-term First Selectman, did manage to recruit me for the DTC. He did so in order to make certain he’d gain the nomination at the DTC’s nominating convention that summer. Since there were vacancies, I happily volunteered to help Ken out since he assured me all I had to do was attend one meeting a month and pitch in as the mood pleased me.
The irony is, that year I joined the nominating convention conflicted with the San Diego Comic-con and the DTC’s rules didn’t allow for absentee ballots. Turns out, Ken didn’t need my vote but since I knew people on the DTC from around town, I stuck around.
Which is kind of how I finally succumbed and joined the RTM when a vacancy occurred there.
What never ceases to amaze me is how much backroom lobbying and discussion takes place, even at the small town level (and despite a population of 57,000, we still like to think of ourselves as a small town). It turns out, Pat Jacobson, the District 8 leader had decided she had other obligations that required her attention and after eight years, was ready to hand over the leadership. This had been on her mind since the DTC election back in January (yeah, turns out you run for these slots and rarely are there more candidates than slots so it’s pretty much a done deal – the number of slots is based on party registration after the most recent town wide election; District 8 swelled from 15 to 18 positions).
In looking over the 15 names on the newly elected District 8 roster, it seems the power brokers decided I was a good candidate to step up. The notion of my stepping up in the party has been mentioned to me ever since I won the RTM election in November; not quite a mantra but close. So, Pat asked me if I was interested, and I made the right noises. It seemed that was going to be that and at the first meeting of the newly elected body, last night, we’d vote, I’d lead and that would be that.
Until last week. Last week, Sue Barrett, a longtime member of the DTC and hard working member of the party, decided that not only did she want to run for the role of rep to State Central; she wanted to also be district leader. Scuttlebutt had it she wanted the role to ensure she would be at the State Convention in May to vote for Joe Leiberman’s candidacy for Senate.
That sort of got my competitive juices going and I decided I really wanted to lead the district and realized I was going to have to lobby a bit. I walked into last night’s meeting and began chatting up people in the District. The consensus seemed to be that Sue should be the state rep, which was fine by me. But since there was a race on, I needed someone to nominate me. I wound up asking Helen D’Avanzo, the woman I replaced on the RTM, and she agreed.
Our meeting wore on last night, as we heard from various committees and people and then voted for the DTC leadership. We were also told who the DTC leadership picked to attend the various political conventions for the November election – I was named an alternate to the State Convention. Finally, we broke into districts to elect leaders and deputies. As I walked over to District 8’s conclave, Sue looked over and said, “I’ll support you here if you support me in the state.” Deal. Sue wound up nominating me, to Helen’s surprise.
Effective last night, I am the District 8 leader in the Fairfield Democratic Town Committee. One day, I’ll figure out what this means beyond attending district leader meetings. Maybe they’ll even let me in the backroom.