Farricker retains DTC chair by one vote

By the skin of his teeth, Frank Farricker will remain the chairman of the Greenwich Democratic Town Committee.

Mr. Farricker was reelected to a new two-year term Wednesday night by only a single vote margin, triumphing over Elizabeth Krumeich 28 to 27 out of the votes cast. Going into the election a tight vote was anticipated by many top Greenwich Democrats but how close it was stunned many in the crowd. And the vote could have been even closer as a vote for Ms. Krumeich was disallowed, preventing a flat out tie and a second vote.

A vote for Ms. Krumeich from DTC District 1 member Laura Heist was disallowed because Ms. Heist had, prior to the meeting, resigned from the body. However since her replacement from the district, Nancy Brown, was not eligible to vote either due to the lateness of her appointment, Ms. Heist voted and it was subsequently disallowed by John Vecchiola, who served as parliamentarian for the meeting and oversaw the vote.

While this decision spurred much discussion after the meeting even Ms. Krumeich’s supporters ultimately agreed that Mr. Vecchiola’s decision was in order and the vote will stand.

The close vote was also impacted by two members of the body deciding to abstain and a third not voting for either Mr. Farricker or Ms. Krumeich, who were the only two candidates nominated. In remarks to the DTC before the vote, Mr. Farricker, who has been chairman since 2010, acknowledged the visible split in the party and said he would work to bring everyone together, especially after criticism from some about tone and demeanor.

Ms. Krumeich’s supporters, including former First Selectman Richard Bergstresser, had put her forward as a chairman more able to draw in independents and unaffiliated voters to broaden the appeal of Democratic candidates while building a better, more unified party infrastructure. Mr. Farricker said he was listening to what he had to do to be more effective.

“I’m grateful for all your participation in this race that we’ve had over the past few weeks,” Mr. Farricker told the members. “This is the kind of better, overwhelming commitment that leads to a more efficient and better Democratic Party. I’ve spoken to just about all of you and all of you voiced some great ideas. I assure you that I am listening to what you’re saying, not just the good stuff, but the comments I may not like too. I understand that hearing them and acting on them is what a good leader will do… We can do great things for Greenwich, for the state and for this country.”

Mr. Farricker pointed to a record where he said fund raising was at five times what it was in 2007 and that after years of letting Republicans run state races unopposed, Democrats had been running full slates of candidates. He said the party had to come together to focus on reelecting Gov. Dannel Malloy and U.S. Rep. Jim Himes (D-4th) in November. Mr. Farricker promised a “strategic focus built on experience, relationships and success.”

“Being chairman is not shrinking in the face of Republican onslaughts against us because I know we’re right on every single issue that comes before us,” Mr. Farricker said. “We are the herald of our party and we do what we were put in existence to do which is elect Democrats at all levels to office. Together we’ve gone from a party that many thought had no point in contesting elections into a party that puts a candidate out for every single state legislative race and puts a candidate out for every single town office. We get candidates out there. We’ve moved this party into being a real force in this community.”

Each candidate for the chairmanship received two nominating speeches. Mr. Farricker’s was given by two of the party’s recent candidates for first selectman as he had the support of both former Selectwoman Lin Lavery and John Blankley, a current member of the town’s Board of Estimate and Taxation. Both discussed Mr. Farricker’s progress in fund raising for the party and in candidate recruitment as well as his close ties to Mr. Malloy.

“Frank is an experienced, proven leader,” Ms. Lavery said. “He’s pragmatic and tough when toughness is needed. He has a direct line to Hartford and he has a deep and true understanding of our town. Under his leadership, the Democrats have become stronger.”

Ms. Lavery said Mr. Farricker would be instrumental in moving the Democrats’ agenda forward, which she said had to be the party’s goal in town. Ms. Lavery said “politics is a contact sport” and compared it to rugby.

“There may be elbowing, there might be bumping and sometimes there may even be bruising,” Ms. Lavery said. “But at the end of the day all that matter is that we are on the same mission together and hopefully we get these Democrats elected. Beth is a terrific person. She has very strong skill sets, but Frank is a better person for chair of the DTC. He is a proven leader. He knows how to effectively run a campaign. He’s strategic. He’s smart. He’s proven in his job.”

“Frank’s great strengths outweigh his faults,” Mr. Blankley said. “His hard work, his political awareness and his political savvy are absolutely undoubted. He has been immense help to me in my elections. The achievements of the past five years have been undoubted in terms of the vibrancy of this party and in terms of the number of people vying for positions on boards in this town.”

Mr. Blankley noted the divided party in his remarks, speaking about all the campaigning on both sides to get votes. He said that he was sure that the one thing everyone would be able to agree upon at the meeting would be, “We will all be heartily pleased that the last few weeks will be behind us after tonight.” He said it was important for everyone there to remember, “There is far more here that unites us, than divides us.”

In his role as parliamentarian, Mr. Vecchiola noted how he had been chairman of the DTC 31 years ago and urged members of the body to come together just like they did back then to elect Ruth Sims as the first female first selectman in the town’s history.

“Thirty-one years ago we weren’t a very tight-knit group,” Mr. Vecchiola said. “But we bonded together and win a first selectman’s race that year. That was an amazing effort by the town committee… Let’s hope that we can move forward tonight and come out united because we have elections we need to win.”

 

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