Darien’s Republican Town Committee and Democratic Town Committee caucused on Thursday, Jan. 11, to confirm committee members for a two-year term ending in 2020. Town committees are responsible for recruiting candidates to run for elected office and fill positions on town boards and commissions along with supporting the campaigns and initiatives of their political party.

Both parties confirmed 21 members for their committee with a unanimous vote during a relatively quiet evening on Thursday. About two dozen people showed up for each caucus, many of whom were the slate for the evening’s vote. Leaders on both sides of the aisle spoke about the importance of engaging the community and shaping future leaders in a trying political climate.

RTC Chairman Brent Hayes said the committee interviewed about 30 people for the slate of candidates and thanked all of those who were willing to volunteer their time during the holdiay season. Among those joining the RTC are several former elected officials, including former Board of Finance chair Elizabeth Smith (who went by Liz Mao during her time with the board), Board of Finance member Bruce Orr, who chose not to run for reelection last year, and former Board of Education chairman John Boulton.

On Thursday Hayes said, “It’s a great slate of 21 people and I very much appreciate the continued outreach that we’ve gotten. There’s a long list of names that, after this is done, we want to get involved.”

The RTC also voted to adopt an updated set of rules as edited by Secretary Belinda Bewkes Metzger. Committee members said the spirit of the rules remain fully intact, but some language was changed for clarification.

Democratic Town Committee Chairman David Bayne said the party had seen renewed support last year in the wake of Donald’s Trump election. Democrats ran a full slate of candidates for Board of Selectmen during the 2017 election, something the party had not done since 2011. Democrat Tara Ochman was named chairman of the Board of Education in November after being elected in 2016.

While registered Democrats are greatly outnumbered by Republicans in Darien Bayne said the party was fortunate to have Democratic leaders at the state level protecting their interests including Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff, former First Selectman Evonne Klein who is now the the state’s housing commissioner and Rep. William Tong, who is considering a run for the state’s vacant attorney general position. Bayne said the committee should be ready to support the party at the state level as well.

“Much of the work of having Darien over-represented in state and local government starts here with the DTC,” Bayne said. “It’s the work of the people in this room finding candidates, grooming them, supporting them that helps them rise to the levels that we can turn to in our time of need. People forget about the DTC but we are the grassroots, the grass that has grown so tall starts with us.”

While incumbent selectman Rob Richards was left off the board following the last year’s election, he was replaced by running mate Pam Sparkman, a Darien Democrat he helped recruit for the DTC and Darien. In turn, Richards joined the DTC as a member for the upcoming term to help shape the future of the local party.

Democrat Selectman Marc Thorne, whose wife Barbara was confirmed to the DTC Thursday, spoke about the refreshing impact the caucus can have on the party.

“The caucus is something important we do to recruit members in local, state and national elections. We have some challenging elections coming up and we have a lot of work to do in support. I’m pleased to see all the energy and enthusiasm of a new DTC”.

Those interested in reaching out the Republican Town Committee can visit darienrtc.com for more information while those interested in working with the DTC can dariendemocrats.com/

Confirmed RTC Members:

  • Thomas Bell
  • John Boulton
  • David Anthony Brown
  • Taylor Carter
  • Alexander Davidson
  • James Demark
  • Bonnie Frate Dora
  • Mary Forman Flynn
  • Brent Thomas Hayes
  • Ann-Gail Hult
  • Charles Koons, III
  • Douglas McKay
  • Elizabeth Smith
  • Belinda Bewkes Metzger
  • Bruce Orr, Sr.
  • Catherine Palazola
  • Raymond Slavin
  • Jennifer Sommer
  • Christopher Taylor
  • Cynthia Torres
  • Bert von Stuelpnagel

Confirmed DTC members

  • Frank Adelman
  • Chalres Baldwin
  • David Bayne
  • Katharine Bunoski
  • Sean Bunoski
  • Christine Castles
  • Elizabeth Hall
  • Michael Klein
  • Randall Klein
  • Jeff Koltay
  • Caroline Luz
  • Dan Nalawade
  • Joshua Pike
  • Ann Reed
  • Rob Richards
  • Glenn Ritch
  • Shannon Silsby
  • Barbara Throne
  • Jennifer Woodbury