Caucus time: Dems, GOP to endorse candidates for November
Darien’s political parties will caucus next week, and for the first time in 20 years, Town Clerk Donna E. Rajczewski will not be on the ballot.
Rajczewski told The Darien Times she thought the time was right for her to step down. The Republican will leave the office in January when her term is up. This year, the Republican party is putting forward Caryn Diller for town clerk. Diller has worked with Rajczewski for 15 years — and the longtime town clerk said stepping away knowing the office would be in such good hands is a great feeling.
Racjewski has served as Darien’s town clerk since January 2000. She has never been challenged in the office. In fact, Racjewski said in her earliest years serving she was cross-endorsed by both parties. Though Racjewski has never been challenged in her elections, she was still often the highest vote-getter out of any candidate in any election.
The Democratic Town Committee has issued a legal notice that it will caucus on Tuesday, July 23, at 5:30 p.m. in Room 119 of Darien Town Hall. The DTC has already put forward four candidates, including Board of Education Chairman Tara Ochman, Dan Bumgardner for Board of Finance, and Sarah Neumann and David Martin for Board of Selectmen. Martin and Neumann replace the current Democratic selectmen, Pamela Sparks and Marc Thorne.
Though the Democrats have not yet endorsed a first selectman candidate, Chairman David Bayne says the caucus, which welcomes all registered Darien Democrats and is open to the media, takes nominations from the floor.
The Republican Town Party has issued a legal notice it will caucus on Monday, July 22, at 7 p.m. at the Darien Town Hall auditorium. The legal notice indicates the GOP voted to propose 15 candidates in May. In addition to Diller for town clerk, the slate includes First Selectman Jayme Stevenson, Kip Koons and Christa McNamara for selectmen, Joan Hendrickson for treasurer, Kathleen Larkins for tax collector, Jim Palen and Taylor Carter for Board of Finance, Jill McCammon and John Sini for Board of Education, Richard Dolcetti for Board of Assessment Appeals, Cara Gately and Larry Thomas Warble for Planning & Zoning, and Louise Calastro and Alan Hyatt Jr. for constables.
Most of the GOP slate is incumbents — with some new faces and two intra-board moves. McNamara currently serves on the Board of Ed, and Sini is currently chairman of Planning & Zoning.
The GOP does not accept nominations from the floor at its caucus, which is open to media and all registered Darien Republicans. Petitions needed to be filed by July 17 to challenge any candidate. As of Tuesday morning, Chairman Chris Taylor said he had received no petitions.
The town clerk keeps land records, including property transfers, and vital records, including birth, marriage and death certificates. It also issues hunting and fishing licenses, marriage licences and dog licenses, and keeps Representative Town Meeting records, including minutes, agendas and attendance. It can often be the clearinghouse for other town offices when people aren’t sure what they need or where to get it.
All of this has kept Racjewski very busy for the last 20 years. As far as future plans, Racjewski said though many have asked her, “I don’t really have any.” Instead, she will take some well-deserved down time. But she has no intentions of leaving Darien.
“I’ll still be around,” she said.
If successfully elected, Diller will take the reins in January.