The Connecticut Young Democrats organization has endorsed a pair of Cheshire Democratic candidates for this local election - Fiona Pearson, a Town Council candidate in District 1, and Board of Education candidate Chris Affie.
Pearson and Affie are among 35 endorsements statewide recently by the Connecticut Young Democrats, which is a chapter of the Young Democrats of America.
"I am honored to be recognized and endorsed by Connecticut chapter of Young Democrats for my municipal candidacy this November 5th," Pearson said. "I strongly believe in the issues they support, and if elected, look forward to working with them and others to push forward for positive change in our town and state."
According to its website, the Young Democrats of America is the largest youth-led, partisan political organization in the nation. The Young Democrats of America mobilizes young people under the age of 36 to participate in the electoral process to elect Democrats, influence the ideals of the Democratic Party, advocate for progressive issues, and train the next generation of progressive leaders. The Young Democrats of America has over 150,000 members nation-wide in chapters in 49 states and U.S. territories – including high-school and college students, young workers, young professionals, and young families.
"I am proud of this endorsement because we need the youth to vote and be active in all elections," Affie said. "I am happy that they feel I can represent them in Cheshire. We need to embrace new voices in local, state and national elections."
Sen. Chris Murphy gives Candidates a pep talk at Cheshire Democratic Headquarters; urges Democrats to get out and vote on Nov. 5
CHESHIRE, CT--Sen. Chris Murphy made an appearance at Cheshire Democratic headquarters on Sunday and urged candidates, Democratic volunteers and all Democrats in town to have their family members and friends "plugged in" in an effort to get them to come out and vote.
Democratic headquarters was filled with a standing-room only crowd to hear what Murphy had to say, take some selfies and discuss politics one-on-one with the Senator.
Murphy has sold his home in Cheshire to move closer to family. But Murphy said Cheshire will always be a special place for him.
"It's great to be back home in Cheshire, a place that means an enormous amount to me and Cathy (his wife Cathy Holahan) and the boys," Murphy said. "Your success means so much to us. When we moved to Cheshire a decade ago it was a Republican town. When we registered as Democrats we knew we were in the minority. Today, we have more registered Democrats by a decent margin in a town that I don't think people would have imagined would be the case.
"I was in Orange today and I think of Orange as a very Republican town. Orange now has more registered Democrats than it has Republicans. This is a trend happening all across the state. We just have to make sure that the representation in town government reflects the registration here in Cheshire. So we have some work to do for (Town Council candidates) Patti Flynn-Harris, Peter Talbot, Jeff Falk and the whole team campaigning for Town Council, Board of Education and everyone else who has their name on the ballot."
Murphy went on to discuss the national scene and local government.
"There has never been a clear connection between our success at the local level and the fights we are engaged in at the national level,"Murphy said. "I've been thinking about it in a little bit different way the last few days because I hate the fact that we are involved in an impeachment inquiry. Regarding the impeachment of the president of the United States, that's a horrible advertisement for our nation.
"But there is a covenant that you make with the people when you inherit the world's most powerful job. Nobody has more power than the president of the United States and there is one basic promise you have to make and that promise is that you do not use the massive powers entrusted to you for personal, financial or political gain. You use those powers on behalf of the people you represent. And when you violate that trust, when you breach that covenant, there has to be a consequence."
Murphy believes the connection with local government can be more impactful for residents and it is why he believes local elections are so important.
"So that's the process we are engaged in today," Murphy said. "It is interesting how the republican argument against impeachment has changed. They now can't deny what happened, it is now very clear that the president was trading the credibility of the United States to try to get help to destroy his political opponent. So in the last few days, instead of arguing that he didn't do it, now they're arguing that everybody does it. Their new take is that everybody is corrupt. This is how politics works. It's a body blow to our Democracy. Our Democracy is fragile now because of the assault the president has waged on it.
"That's why I've been thinking about this in the context of a local election. People, their thoughts on government, first and foremost often connect it with the people who represent them locally. They may be losing faith in the quality of national leadership. But frankly, very few people are going to be able to sit down and talk to a U.S. Senator. They are absolutely going to be able to sit down and have a conversation with their Council member, with a member of their Board of Education. If we elect more people and combine compassion and common sense, elect a slate of Democratic candidates who are talking about transparency at Town Hall, including more people in the conversation with what happens there, it's really about breathing more life in Democracy."
Murphy ended his speech by stressing the importance of getting Democrats to get out and vote.
"Years ago the strategy might have been a little different," Murphy said. "Now, with more registered Democrats in Cheshire than Republicans, it is more important than ever to really focus on getting Democrats to get out and vote. Many register as Democrats for the national elections, for voting for president. But it all starts with making an impact in local elections. Democrats need to get out and vote on Election Day (Nov. 5)."
Women in politics isn’t something new.
The mid-term election cycle in 2018 was tabbed the “Year of the Woman” in politics. But the original “Year of the Woman” in politics actually was in 1992 when a large contingent of women was elected to the U.S. Congress.
The difference between 1992 and 2018-2019 is the numbers.
The Blue Wave in the 2018 mid-term elections produced 41 seats that Democrats flipped from red to blue. Out of those 41 seats, 23 were won by women. Among the 25 original Democratic candidates for president a record number of six women were running for president.
The national numbers have certainly trickled down to the local level in Cheshire with the Democratic slate of candidates (all office positions combined) reflecting the trend with a record number 12 Democratic women running for election in a single local election year.
The 12 Democratic women running for office in Cheshire are Town Council candidates Patti Flynn Harris (At-Large), Lynn Alvey Dawson (At-Large) and Fiona Pearson (District 1); Board of Education candidates Jami Ferguson, Anne Harrigan and Sam Rosenberg; Zoning Board of Appeals candidate Christine Norton; Planning and Zoning Alternate Casey Downes; Zoning Board of Appeals candidate Breina Schain; Board of Assessment Appeals candidates Laura DeCaprio and Kathleen Held; and Constable candidate Aleta Looker.
“I would say that Cheshire’s stellar field of Democratic women candidates reflects a national movement fueled by several grassroots organizations that address women’s and families’ issues,” Cheshire Democratic Town Committee Chairperson Judy Villa said. “Organizations such as Emerge, Emily’s List, MoveOn.org, Indivisible, and Planned Parenthood have encouraged women to run for a seat at the table.
“Locally, women have been the bedrock of municipal service for years in PTAs/PTOs, faith-based charities, and civic groups. Women have stepped up to volunteer for generations; now they recognize their skills of communication, collaboration, and strategic planning employed in their professions and in their volunteerism are more necessary than ever in the age of government stalemates and divisiveness. Our Democratic women candidates have careers in law, education, business, insurance, real estate, accounting, and social services--all backgrounds valuable to government positions.”
Villa urges Cheshire residents to visit the CDTC’s website www.cheshiredem.org to learn about the fabulous women who are anxious to make Cheshire a better community.
Below are 12 Democratic women running for public office in Cheshire with comments on what led them to decide to run for office and what they hope to accomplish.
ALETA LOOKER, CONSTABLE CANDIDATE: “Ninety-nine years have passed since the passage of the 19th amendment. Finally, in our local election, Democratic women candidates reflect the male-female population division. If only it were similar in state and federal elected bodies.”
CHRISTINE NORTON, ZONING BOARD OF APPEALS CANDIDATE: I am interested in economic development that enhances the town's character and strengths, preserving neighborhoods, and taking into account location and available space.
PATTI FLYNN-HARRIS, TOWN COUNCIL CANDIDATE, AT-LARGE: “I’ve had the good fortune to serve the residents of the town on the Town Council for the past 6 years and previously, 14 years on the Planning & Zoning Commission. With the challenges the town faces from the changing state environment, I would like to continue using my knowledge and experience in helping to guide the town and ensure that it continues to be the great town that it is. As a taxpayer like everyone else, I’m concerned how we keep Cheshire affordable, so I’m very interested in the growth of the tax base and the economic development of the town. I’m also very aware of the need to balance the financial challenges from the state with the needs of the town, especially in the schools and the infrastructure of the town.”
FIONA PEARSON, TOWN COUNCIL CANDIDATE, 1ST DISTRICT: “I first realized that I could and should run for office after November of 2016 and the Women's March in Washington, D.C. on January 20th of 2017. The energy on that day was palpable and life changing. For my daughters and for our collective future, I understood more deeply than ever before that we need more women at all levels of politics to move from the back lines to the front lines. I have been talking with many women who have recently entered into politics and I am hearing similar refrains. Change will only happen when we make it happen.
“I am running for office because I want to energize our town and realize our potential. We must improve collaboration and communication between the Town Council, Board of Education, our town's senior administrators, and local organizations. In strengthening relationships between town stakeholders, we will grow and thrive as community. Working together, we can create a vibrant future for all in Cheshire.”
CASEY DOWNES, PLANNING AND ZONING ALTERNATE CANDIDATE: “For me, running for a local public office has always been in the back of my mind. I finally decided this was the year to “step in” and put myself out there. My husband grew up here, and two of my adult children have chosen to live here as well, which gives me more incentive to give back to my community. I have always been interested in land usage so Planning & Zoning just seems liked a natural fit. I know there have been women on the Planning & Zoning Commission in the past. There just aren’t any now, I am certainly hoping to change that! I believe the Planning & Zoning Commission has the most important job to do. The future of our community rests upon the decisions that are made by the Commission. I currently have the time to dedicate myself to this endeavor and look forward to working for the town of Cheshire.”
LYNN ALVEY DAWSON, TOWN COUNCIL CANDIDATE, AT-LARGE: “Why so many women have stepped up? I can’t speak for anyone else, but I was definitely motivated by the election of Donald Trump. His clearly demonstrated attitudes toward women as objects for his pleasure, the statements he made on the Access Hollywood tape and other evidence of his disregard for women disgusted me and made me fearful for our future. The fact that so many male representatives in Congress failed to call him out on this behavior suggests that this continues to be a pervasive attitude. How can we sit by and allow our representatives in Congress and the White House to dismiss and fail to take seriously half the population?
“In my career, I have been the subject of sexual harassment and discrimination. We can no longer sit back and hope or expect that men will wake up and pay attention to this problem. As women, we owe it to our children and our grandchildren to take a stance and fight for the equality that we deserve. Women must lead.”
Dawson said if she is elected, her goal is to involve more citizens in the process.
“On many levels our governments have become disconnected from the people they represent. If elected, I would represent every person in this town, regardless of whether they voted for me. My plan is to reach out to the residents and keep them informed of what is happening and get their input and opinions on the decisions that are being made. Ultimately, this is not about me, it is about the people in Cheshire.
“As a family law attorney, one of my primary functions is to listen to my clients and work to get the best outcome I can for them and their families. This often requires negotiation and compromise. My clients are frequently angry and emotional. Reaching an equitable solution often requires thinking outside of the box. I hope to bring my listening, creativity and negotiating skills to Town Hall for the betterment of this town.”
SAM ROSENBERG, BOARD OF EDUCATION CANDIDATE: “Throughout history, women have always found themselves on the back burners. They have been put into this “seen, not heard” box thus resulting in the need to ensure that they are viewed at similar to our male counterparts; starting with the suffrage movement and continuing. Now more than ever, I believe this is all part of keeping that spirit of equal rights at the forefront. Initially driven by the revulsion of Trump as well as any party that are helping to support him who don’t see women as equals, they marched with their pink hats!
“As the frustration builds at the lack of care about the needs of citizens, specifically women’s rights starting at the national level and trickling down to state, and local, women are finding it more necessary and have been empowered to take matters into their own hands. Most women in town have been in some way affected by what is happening at the national level, and want to help shift that balance of power, but they also believe that the more women in office will help to elevate issues and draw support from both sides of the political aisle. A large number of these women running are Democrats.”
Rosenberg brings a lot to the table that will make an impact for residents.
“I am an educator by profession and an avid volunteer who is involved in various associations that support the healthy growth and development of children and how they learn. Being an accomplished educator with years of classroom experience, a parent who has played an active role through the years, and a current administrator combined with my direct but respectful style, will be useful when collaborating with school community members in finding solutions to our district’s challenges. My established skill sets will continue to ensure we maintain the high-quality public education that makes us one of the best educational small towns in the country.”
ANNE HARRIGAN, BOARD OF EDUCATION: "I am running for re-election to the BOE because, while we have achieved much over the past four years towards our overarching goals of Complex Thinking and Social Emotional Learning, there is still unfinished business. Learning walks throughout our schools have helped teachers and administrators identify and share best practices for helping students at all grade levels achieve complex thinking to their greatest capacity. The students, themselves, have presented a myriad of programs and activities they are involved in to promote social and emotional well-being in our schools. However, there is still more work to do in order to preempt and decrease instances of bullying, inappropriate, and mean-spirited behavior in our schools. Our children are under immense societal pressures these days, and many need help to identify and alleviate anxieties and other serious mental health issues. With fewer services available in our communities, the social, emotional and mental health of our children falls more and more to public schools. I am committed to making sure Cheshire Public Schools is doing as much as possible to address the social emotional well-being of all children in our community."
JAMI FERGUSON, BOARD OF EDUCATION CANDIDATE: “Volunteer non-profit organizations are a vital part of our town. My children have been active in many organized activities including, Cheshire Youth Baseball, Cheshire Junior Football and Cheer, Cheshire Soccer Club and the Cheshire High School Marching Ram Band. The people who give of themselves to benefit all of our town’s children, in these organizations and others like them, form the bedrock of Cheshire and are a true blessing to our community. Our small business owners and parent support groups make substantial donations annually to subsidize athletics, recreation and enrichment activities. As our budget gets tighter, their burden becomes heavier. I'm concerned we are getting to a tipping point, where the sweat equity and donating some of your profits isn't worth the mill rate. I commit to do whatever I can as a Board member to remove obstacles and facilitate policy reforms to assist Cheshire’s giving community, they deserve it.”
BREINA SCHAIN, ZONING BOARD OF APPEALS CANDIDATE: ”Upon reflection, I believe that the pendulum has been steadily moving in the direction of women becoming more assertive, stepping forward in leadership roles, being involved in their communities and beyond, and advocating for theirs and others’ well-deserved rights. Part of this is due to their becoming more educated and going to top rated schools such as Yale University. Also, this woman’s movement has been a long struggle (violent at times) going back in time, to gaining the right to vote. It should be noted that great women are documented in the Bible and we can learn from reading about this in history. However, there are eminent women in all fields who are role models, including in politics, such as Golda Meir (Prime Minister of Israel) and other such women who led their countries as Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, Prime Minister Theresa May of Great Britain and Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto of Pakistan (the first “Muslim” prime minister).
"I also want to mention other courageous women who have great conviction such as Ellen DeGeneres, who openly helped others to not be ashamed of their sexuality. Other role models are, of course, Hillary Clinton, who most assuredly relayed aspiration and confidence to women to enter politics and even run for President. Women have become more empowered by the “Me Too” movement and now feel more comfortable discussing sexual assault after hearing similar accounts of others, such as in the sports (athletic field) and even from popular actresses, etc. In fact, there are two very brave women, whom I both admire. One, involving the Supreme Court, is Dr. Blaisey Ford (uncannily similar to Anita Hill) who exposed the “predator”, Brett Kavanaugh on a public platform and the other is the youth, Greta Thurberg, who took a firm and public stand for crucially needed climate control. In summary, our society has gradually evolved and generally, people currently respect all genders for their potential as human beings. Furthermore, just as more women are more gainfully employed then in the past, they are simultaneously assuming their justly qualified leadership positions, including running for office here in Cheshire.
"I am the type of person who usually is not content to just sit back and observe in the organizations where I choose to spend my time. I enjoy stepping forward and volunteering to take leadership positions. For instance, even as a young adult after graduating college, I started and ran two successful organizations, one being a bible study group and another was a bowling league. My educational background includes a Bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education and minor in Music from SCSU. My Master’s degree is in Community Counseling with a thesis written on Animal-Assisted Therapy. I’ve been on the Board of Directors of three organizations including the Alumni Association at WCSU, Quinnipiac River Watershed Association and Threshholds (a course helping the inmates in prison to make better decisions in their lives). At Threshholds, I originated the idea and helped to write a manual for the inmates to keep about the course. My past jobs include working for the Social Security Administration, Blue Cross/Blue Shield, Better Business Bureau as a Mediator, and CT Consumer Protection as a Product Safety Inspector. Other state positions were at the CT Labor Department and Social Services. I have now retired after having worked at the Department of Correction in the Counseling Departments at four prisons in Connecticut.
"More currently, since I’ve lived in Cheshire for about twelve years, I’ve volunteered with my certified therapy dog, Trevor, at the library, and grammar school for reading programs. We worked to alleviate stress in three universities at exam times, and at nursing homes to work with patients and their families. As a local volunteer, I’ve worked for the Historical Society, Chamber of Commerce, Friends of the Library, and in the medical response team at Chesprocott Health Safety District. For instance, recently, I’ve met with leaders in the community and presented them with a written document detailing a program for high school students to become more acquainted and involved in town government. This was met with a positive reaction.
"My political career began when I was appointed to the Historic District Commission and thereafter, when I was elected to my present position on the Zoning Board of Appeals. I find that I can apply my State and Federal knowledge of regulations and skills to help achieve resolutions. Furthermore, it is fulfilling for me to be in a position to help others.
In summary, I feel humbled, grateful and personally satisfied for an opportunity to work in town government, meet my neighbors and be in a position to be of assistance. Hopefully, others can become similarly motivated to become involved in our community as it is a wonderful, enriching experience.”
LAURA DECAPRIO, BOARD OF ASSESSMENT APPEALS CANDIDATE, AND KATHLEEN HELD, BOARD OF ASSESSMENT APPEALS CANDIDATE, could not be reached for this story.
Cheshire Democratic Registrar of Voters Tom Smith and Cheshire Republican Registrar of Voters Susan Pappas have released a joint press release serving as a public service announcement with important updated voter information for all Cheshire voters.
According to the press release....
Cheshire residents who are not registered to vote face a one-week deadline for registering prior to the Nov. 5 municipal election. Oct. 29 is the deadline for voter registrations submitted in person or received by mail and online.
The Elections Office will be open until 8 p.m. There will also be a limited registration session on Nov. 4 until 5 p.m., only for those who become U.S. citizens, move into town, or turn 18 the week before Election Day.
Connecticut citizens can register in person throughout the year at the Registrars of Voters office at Town Hall, 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.. Registration is also available online, by mail, through DMV or the Secretary of the State’s website, at the Town Clerk’s office, and at the public library.
For details and links, view the Elections Department page at www.cheshirect.org or call the office at (203) 271-6680.
Absentee ballots are administered in Connecticut by town clerks (not the Elections Department, which is responsible for counting the returned ballots). Absentee ballot applications are now available at the Town Clerk’s office and online: http://www.cheshirect.org/voting-and-elections/absentee-ballots/
All of the normal Cheshire polling places will be open on Nov. 5 from 6 a.m. until 8 p.m.. Voters who live in District 5-3, which only exists in municipal election years, will vote at Doolittle School as usual.
For additional voter information go to the Cheshire Democratic Town Committee website voter information page at bit.ly/2BkZVAa.
CHESHIRE--If this summer's trend of voter registration was any indication, this year’s local election is going to be an interesting one in Cheshire, especially for Democratic candidates.
In the summer of 2018, according to input and official registration numbers provided by Cheshire Democratic Registrar Tom Smith, the trends indicated a Blue Wave was on the rise in the town of Cheshire.
While there has been a slight increase of Democrats in town over the years, since 2014 the Democratic voter registrations have increased to the point where on Aug. 23 there were 477 more Democrats than Republicans in Cheshire. As of Sept. 3, that number rose to 481 more Democrats than Republicans. Smith believes it’s the largest lead by Democratic voters over Republicans in the 30 years he has worked in the Registrar’s office.
“We always get an increase in registrations as Election Day gets closer,” Smith said. “It’s hard to say why the trend continues in the favor of Democrats. It’s likely due to a combination of things.
“The problem is we don’t see as much of the public in the Registrar’s office like we used to. Years ago, the only way to register to vote was coming in to the Registrar’s office. Today, you can go online to register, or to DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles), the public library, and you can register in high school or other ways. Because fewer people come into the Registrar’s office these days, it’s tough to get a feel for what people are thinking.”
With the lead in registration numbers Democrats have enjoyed in recent years, you would think Cheshire Democrats would be making a dent in a town that has been mostly red, particularly on the Town Council. While the voter registration numbers slightly favored Dems in the past, the real driving force in Cheshire local elections has been Unaffiliated registered voters who have dominated both Democrats and Republicans 2-1.
However, it is hard to ignore the current trend.
More Democrats are registering than Republicans. If you also consider that many Unaffiliateds switched to Democrats to vote in the 2018 primary, in my opinion it is an indicator that the Blue Wave has arrived in Cheshire.
And speaking of Unaffiliated voters.... the tough nut to crack for Democrats over the years has been two-fold.
First, we are a town where only about 30 percent of voters typically come out and vote in local elections. If the majority of Cheshire Democrats came out to vote, it would certainly make a bigger impact for Democrats. Many tend to stay home during local elections. Those Democrats – the ones who stay home--need to exercise one of their most precious rights as an American citizen and vote this election cycle.
Second, there are the Unaffiliated voters who have the numbers to sway a Cheshire local election one way or the other every election cycle. Here is where Cheshire Democratic candidates might start seeing a light at the end of the tunnel on Election Day (Nov. 5).
A year ago we had our mid-term elections with primaries for both parties held on Aug. 14, 2018. In order to vote in a Democratic primary, you need to be a registered Democrat and to vote in a Republican primary you need to be a registered Republican. Typically, in order to vote in a primary, many Democrat-leaning or Republican-leaning Unaffiliated voters will switch to Democrat or Republican. Last year, at one point with about a week to go before the primary, the Unaffiliated switch to a party favored Democrats 4-1.
When you add in the increase in Democratic registered voters, could we be seeing a perfect storm brewing here? I think so.
At the risk of repeating myself, I think this is important for Cheshire Democrats to grasp. While getting Dem-leaning Unaffiliateds to come out and vote is important, if you look at the chart below, especially the current numbers, if the majority of Democrats came out to vote they would make a huge difference in Cheshire on Election Day.
CHESHIRE VOTER REGISTRATION NUMBERS
Dems Rep. Unaff. Other Total
Oct. 1, 2019 5,405 4,895 8,629 265 19,194
Sept. 3, 2019 5,377 4,896 8,619 263 19,155
Aug. 23, 2019 5,371 4,894 8,608 264 19,137
Aug. 6, 2019 5,352 4,890 8,593 262 19,096
Aug. 2, 2019 5,347 4,895 8,584 262 19,088
Aug. 2, 2018 5,152 4,732 8,496 229 18,609
Aug. 5, 2014 4,421 4,135 7,970 124 16,650
From August. 2, 2018 to Aug. 2, 2019, there was an increase of 195 Democratic voters, 163 Republicans and an increase of 88 Unaffiliateds. More recent increases are slight but do reflect the Democratic trend. From Aug. 6 to Aug. 23, there was an increase of 19 registered Democrats and only four Republicans. The interesting item is between Sept. 3 and Oct. 1 the Republicans actually lost one registered voter.
The numbers don’t lie. But to make the numbers work to turn Cheshire red to blue, Democrats and Dem-leaning Unaffiliateds need to get out and vote.
Dan Nowak is chairman of the Cheshire Democratic Town Committee's Communication Relations/IT Committee, a volunteer position. He is a Cheshire Parks and Recreation Commissioner and has been a sportswriter at the New Haven Register for 36 years.