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State Democrats dismiss complaint against Falls Village DTC

FALLS VILLAGE — After an online “dispute resolution hearing” before members of the Connecticut Democratic Party’s state central committee, the committee members voted unanimously to dismiss a complaint from a group of Falls Village Democrats over the town committee’s nominating and endorsement process.

The complaint, filed by Noelle Lamuniere and Betsy Howie and as described in the state party central committee decision released Friday, Sept 17,  alleged that the town Democratic committee (FVTC) “was not properly constituted because its endorsement caucus did not have a quorum on January 14, 2020; that the June 16, 2021 FVTC meeting failed to properly fill five vacancies on the town committee because the vote was conducted by secret ballot, in violation of State Party Rules; that the July 20, 2021 FVTC meeting to endorse candidates for municipal office was invalid for the following reasons: a. It was a town committee meeting instead of a caucus; b. The Chair failed to allow non-member Democrats to speak on the floor; and c. The vote process for the office of First Selectman was different than for the other offices.”

The decision noted that the chair of the town Democratic committee, Dave Barger, “denied the first and third allegations but acknowledged having erred with regard to the second allegation.”

The second allegation, about improper use of secret ballots at the June 16 town committee meeting, is described in the decision:

“As the Respondent acknowledged at the hearing, the FVTC improperly allowed its members to cast secret ballots at its June 16, 2020 meeting to fill five vacancies on the town committee. The Panel was persuaded that this was not done in bad faith and the Complainants did not allege that the method of ballot affected the outcome. Nonetheless, it is a significant violation.”

As to the third part of the complaint, the panel concluded that Barger followed party rules by holding a town committee meeting on July 20 and not a caucus, even though the panel acknowledged “the traditional caucus has been replaced by a town committee meeting.”

The online hearing took about 90 minutes, after which the public and press were removed from the meeting and the members of the panel —Karen Cato, Tom McDonough and Nicholas Vegliante — discussed the complaint with legal counsel Kevin Reynolds.

In a phone interview Sept. 17, Barger said he would reach out to those Democrats unhappy with the process, and with the decision to endorse incumbent Republican First Selectman Henry Todd for reelection, rather than nominating Doug Cohn.

“We want all Democrats involved,” he said.

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