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Three-Way Race For The Top

Last Minute Candidate Changes The Dynamics This Election Year In Clinton

In a move that surprised some observers of Clinton politics, the expected two-way race for the first selectman’s job in the November election turned into a three-way contest at the last minute.

Vincent Cimino, the chairman of the Republican town committee, filed a petition Wednesday – the last day allowed for such a filing - with the requisite signatures to run without party affiliation as a candidate for first selectman.

Cimino will run against incumbent First Selectman William Fritz, endorsed by the Democratic town committee caucus for a fourth term in office, and Republican Selectwoman Carol Walter, whose nomination was endorsed by the GOP caucus.

Walter said Cimino also had been nominated for first selectman at the party caucus, and he declined the nomination.

“It’s baffling,” she remarked of his decision to run as a petitioning candidate, adding, “I’m trying to avoid any conflict with Mr. Cimino.”

But Cimino explained, “After declining the nomination at the RTC caucus, numerous individuals – Republican, Democrats, and unaffiliated – contacted me and asked me to reconsider running for first selectman.”

He said he petitioned to be included in the race because, “There are numerous serious issues facing this town, and I think I’m the candidate who can turn this town around.”

In addition to Cimino, three other candidates have filed petitions to be placed on the November ballot:

Leonard Cahill, with lengthy service as a selectman and on other town boards and commissions, petitioned to run for the Board of Police Commissioners, on which he currently is filling a vacancy whose term expires this year. The GOP party caucus chose Cimino and Susan Dubey as its candidates for police commission.

Also filing petitions as candidates for the Board of Education were Rachael Rutkis, who is unaffiliated, and Charlene Voyce, a Democrat.

With Cimino’s name appearing twice on the ballot, it may be the first time Clinton voters will have seen a candidate running for an office with a party affiliation, and for another office without a party identity.

Town Clerk Karen Marsden said there is nothing in state statutes or the town charter that would prohibit Cimino from running for both the police commission and first selectman.

“Technically, yes, he can run for both offices," she said. "The charter doesn’t address it, and the statutes don’t prohibit it, but I would think if he won both, he would resign one of them.”

Fritz said he was motivated to run for his fourth term by the accomplishments he sees in Clinton over the past six years. Among them, he says, “Fiscally, the town is in tremendous shape. We’ve been frugal with our money, have a long term fiscal plan, and we’re sticking with it.”

He said his ability to obtain state and federal grants has allowed the town to proceed with an assortment of capital projects.

For the immediate future, Fritz agrees the economy “is a challenge. It was a challenge two years ago, and it still is. We’ve got to find creative ways of providing services without increasing taxes – we can’t increase taxes.”

The closing of the Stanley Bostich plant in Clinton three years ago, and the closing of Unilever next year are a blow to the town’s grand list, but “the bigger impact is to the local economy. The town actually has seen an increase in the number of its smaller businesses, but we need state incentives to help find new tenants” for the Bostich and Unilever properties.

Walter, completing one term on the board of selectmen, sees herself as best qualified to lead the town. “I think I can do a much better job of running the town and its finances than is being done now. I think I’m a breath of fresh air that Clinton needs.”

Walter sees taxes as the principal issue in the coming year.

“The tax rate is too high. We are paying all we can afford and then some,” she said. “I certainly don’t want to see any more increases if they can be avoided.”

“We need to focus on economic development, rather than watching businesses walk away, we have to find ways of bringing them in,” said Walter.

While she said the local GOP is working on ways to encourage economic development, Walter said, “I don’t have any answers for that right now.”

Fran M. August 14, 2011 at 05:16 PM
ClintonCT-- I find your comment about "understanding Mr. Cimino's positions on issues" interesting. I've read his letters in the papers too. I have no objection to the FOI inquiries that are being proposed, however: I can't really claim to know what Mr. Cimino's ideas are going forward. Neither "egress" on Police station property nor "Clinton Landing" project overruns are high on my list of issues our town faces going forward. I agree with other comments here-- I think we need to hear "ideas", not laying blame. And the request for "ideas" applies to both parties, current administration included. Mr. Fritz cites a "long term fiscal plan", but I'd like to understand better what that is. Is this plan available to read online? Claims of "bias" in this article are lame-- Mr. Engels might know of a personal bias with the writer, but it certainly was not obvious to an unaffiliated reader of this article. Lastly, I find it utterly refreshing that a political candidate (Ms. Walter) admits to not "having any answers" to a question, rather than giving some line of political BS. As long as she develops some good ideas going forward, and shares them. ;)
Kirk Carr August 15, 2011 at 06:17 PM
It is surprising no one has challenged Mr. Fritz on his claim of frugality. It is true that the town has an excessive surplus and relatively low debt, thanks not to frugality so much as to excessive taxation (with the highest mill rate on the shoreline) and sloppy accounting that has inadvertently resulted in embarrassing accumulated surpluses that amount to an astonishing 16% of total (schools and town) operating expenses. Much of these surplus funds belong in the pockets of Clinton taxpayers, not in a slush fund that tempts wasteful spending on Astroturf fields. Clearly the First Selectman’s unilateral approval of over $200,000 of unauthorized spending on the Clinton Landing project disqualifies him as a careful steward of taxpayer funds. The Democratically controlled Board of Selectmen does not have the authority to forgive misappropriations over $15,000 without a vote in a town meeting or referendum and is, under section 10-6 D of the Town Charter, obliged to hold him “liable in a civil action in the name of the Town…” Instead the Democratic Town Committee nominates him for a 4th term. The status quo in Clinton is environmentally and fiscally toxic. Lets show these incumbents the door.
Stephen King August 15, 2011 at 11:01 PM
Kirk I couldn't agree more with your points. However, on the point of section 10-6D who exactly is authorized to bring this charge against him and why hasn't that happened? I'm curious to know why a Clinton resident couldn't bring this charge or at least gain the attention of the state AG if there was dereliction of our town charter?
Kirk Carr August 15, 2011 at 11:25 PM
Stephen: Any taxpayer in Clinton could bring the action on behalf of the town as could the Clinton Taxpayers Association. Failure by the Board of Selectman to act is dereliction and the DTC nominating him again in the face of this is astoundingly arrogant. The Democratic AGs have been exceedingly forgiving of their party fellows.
Stephen King August 15, 2011 at 11:42 PM
Then the real question begs is why hasn't the CTA moved on this if it is indeed an egregious violation? Clearly, it's not just the Board of Selectmen who are failing to act. It seems to me there is enough apathy to go around?
Kirk Carr August 16, 2011 at 12:22 AM
Stephen: The CTA is gathering evidence regarding Clinton Landings as part of an active Freedom of Information Act request. Next steps are yet to be seen. Stay tuned.
Stephen King August 16, 2011 at 01:54 AM
Auuh...alas I can see the strategy! It should be an interested November.
TrueClinton August 16, 2011 at 02:14 AM
Its time for people to hear the truth...At the June 15, 2011 Board of Selectman Meeting it was noted that a Sept 5, 2007 resolution states "The First Selectman is authorized to determine the priority of the exact amounts to be spent on each infrastructure improvement project from the list attached.." One of those projects in the list attached is Clinton Landing. This is real information, you can read it for yourself on the Town's Website. It's time to see the good in this Town, I am real tired of constantly hearing what is wrong with Clinton. Clinton Landing is one of the good things that we have, along with the Town Dock. It has gotten to easy to be negative.
Stephen King August 16, 2011 at 03:06 AM
It would seem to me that if FOI request concludes this then there is nothing to worry about. However, that aside it doesn't seem logical the First Selectman would have unlimited fiscal authority to conclude a town project that was billed to the voters under a different number. As I understand it, it was recommended by the town finance director that the 9 million referendum list out all the projects to be voted on individually. Now I understand why his idea was shot down and the First Selectman commingled them all together. Please...we aren't stupid.
Bradford J. Sullivan August 16, 2011 at 03:16 PM
Stephen, The charter provision cited was not violated. It is a red herring. Regards, Brad
Bradford J. Sullivan August 16, 2011 at 03:32 PM
There was no dereliction of duty, and stating that there was before you have reviewed any documents responsive to your FOIA request is, at best, not fair. There is active litigation re: Clinton Landing. See MMX-CV09-6000936-S, TOWN OF CLINTON v. OLD COLONY. Have you reviewed the court file? It could shed some light on the issues you are raising.
Jim Braun August 16, 2011 at 04:14 PM
Pure comic genius.
Kirk Carr August 16, 2011 at 04:58 PM
The First Selectman has publicly acknowledged he made a mistake. There are few, if any, facts in dispute about Clinton Landing. The Board of Selectmen do not have authority to reallocate amounts greater than $15,000 nor can they delegate powers they do not have. Circle the wagons, change the subject and label a legitimate issue a red herring, none of which will produce an effective smoke screen.
Pat August 23, 2011 at 03:11 PM
Mr Cimino, after declining the nomination for first selectman and then changing your decision to run based on the information provided in this article simply proves to me that you do not have firm principles to be considered for a position at the top of our local goverment. Please reconsider your decision and stop this foolishness.
TrueClinton August 23, 2011 at 04:57 PM
Alison...can I get an "Amen"! I know that there are more of us out there. We can disagree without degrading each other.
VIN CIMINO August 23, 2011 at 05:37 PM
The responsible commentors on Patch use their complete names in order to verify their identities and the legitimacy of their comments. Those who fail to use their complete names do so for obvious reasons. Your comments are absolutely meaningless and your motivation is obvious. The readers of Patch are readily able to identify an attempt to make an anonymous negative comment for the sole purpose of harming an individual. This is indeed foolishness and will only serve to undermine your efforts. My decision to run was based completely on the fact that I believe the other two candidates haven't done what they were elected to do and that I will do a better job of representing, serving and protecting the residents of Clinton.
Stephen King August 23, 2011 at 10:18 PM
Alison, I'm curious to know if you are a product of Morgan. If so, I do hope we can improve our civics courses.
Fran M. August 24, 2011 at 12:59 AM
Mr. Cimino, your feelings for our current First Selectman are well documented. However, did you form the opinion that Ms. Walter wasn't doing what she was elected to do, only *after* the RTC meeting which first nominated you, and then her? To be honest, this is rather puzzling to me...
Ron Nash August 24, 2011 at 03:27 PM
Fran , Your observation is quite correct . Ms Walter is a selectman , not the first selectman . And she is in a political minority roll on the Board of Selectmen which pretty much means the Democrats run the board . And they do so with an iron fist as demonstrated by the fact they do no even allow Republicans the courtesy of filling Republican board vacancies with their own nominees on most occasions . This overbearing abuse of majority is unique only to the Fritz administrations . You are also correct to point out that mr Cimino's critisism of Ms Walter only started after he was not chosen as the republican candidate for first selectman . While it's true Mr Cimino was nominated by someone for first selectman he withdrew his name rather than allow a vote which would have been a dramaitic loss . He then avoided the republican primary for the same reason . To avoid a very public and dramtic loss proving no support . I assume his actions now are based on extreme disappointment that he was not supported for the candidacy as well as the loss of an opportunity at a job paying $90,000 . The independent , Spoiler , candidacy he has chosen only involved collecting 32 signatures and some of them , I believe , are not actually supporters but signed as a courtesy . He is an oponent to both the Republican and Democrat campaigns . But his candidacy more negatively effects republicans . He is therefore best friend to the Fritz campaign at this time .
VIN CIMINO August 24, 2011 at 09:44 PM
Mr. Nash, Mrs. Walter and new RTC chairman Mr. Sengle are concerned my candidacy will result in Willie Fritz being re-elected. That can only be interpreted as a lack of confidence in their candidate. The facts are these, as Mr. Nash is well aware : Mrs. Walter contacted me several times, pleading with me to run as the Republican candidate. She told several members of the RTC that every Republican she spoke with said I was the person they wanted for First Selectman. Mrs. Walter contacted the Chairman of the Clinton Taxpayer Association, Pamela Fritz, asking her to assist Mrs. Walter in convincing me to run for First Selectman. Mrs. Walter later contacted me to say that she was being "pressured" into running by some "old Republicans". Mr. Nash, an old Republican, is an active and vital member of Mrs. Walter's campaign. He's said publicly that he and others will "advise" Mrs. Walter should she become First Selectman. Republicans, Democrats and Independants have been asking me for years to run for First Selectman. I declined the RTC nomination because I wasn't sure I wanted to run as the Republican candidate. I took out a petition to primary and a petition to run as an Independant to keep all options available, eventually deciding to represent all the residents of Clinton. Mr. Nash's assertion that I wouldn't have had enough Republican support is laughable and a desperate attempt to bolster his withering candidate.
Pat August 24, 2011 at 10:51 PM
Mr. Cimino, do you really expect anyone to believe your last post? You surely do not hold any republican principals. The only decision I see that you made correctly was to become an independent
Tom Brennan August 24, 2011 at 10:51 PM
Vin, read your profile's wall and heed the advice people leave you there, like this little nugget: Ted06413 7:50pm on Thursday, June 16, 2011 Is your unquenchable thirst for attention going to spoil the Clinton Patch as it has the Harbor News? You've made a fool of yourself,The Republican Town Committee and the Town of Clinton with your slanted,mean spirited rants. ...
Bradford J. Sullivan August 25, 2011 at 02:43 PM
Quite sure the use of the word "scumbag" to describe any one in public discourse is inappropriate, Mr. Brennan.
VIN CIMINO August 26, 2011 at 05:37 AM
Kathleen, I am a fiscal conservative and believe in transparent, good government that isn't influenced by politics but, rather, by what is in the best interest of the entire town. The fact that someone doesn't agree with your opinion does not make that person a bad citizen. I think a good citizen learns what is happening in their town, state, country and the world. I think a good citizen gets involved and tries to improve things. I think a good citizen exercises his right to vote at town meetings and elections. There are good people on the right, the left and in the middle and I don't think they are the minority. We must not allow politics to interfere with the decision making process because the stakes are too high. We must focus on doing what is in the best interest of the town, not any particular group.
Independent September 08, 2011 at 01:22 AM
FYI Research shows: More people are becoming independents: http://people-press.org/2009/05/21/independents-take-center-stage-in-obama-era/
Kirk Carr December 09, 2011 at 03:17 PM
Mr. Sullivan: Curiously the Old Colony verdict didn't come in until after the election. Get out your checkbook. You have no doubt seen counsel's letter to the town temporarily available at: https://www.yousendit.com/dl?phi_action=app/orchestrateDownload&rurl=https%253A%252F%252Fwww.yousendit.com%252Ftransfer.php%253Faction%253Dbatch_download%2526send_id%253D1309647368%2526email%253D5e80a50532d4465fa0de998b656d3d8f This is why bonding propositions and well defined projects need specific limits. The way this proposition was written and BOS resolution passed, the First Selectman could do anything he pleased and demonstrated how abusive he could be. This completely circumvented the Town Charter's intent to require Town Meetings on line item adjustments of $15,000 or more. And there is nothing anyone can do about it.
Bradford J. Sullivan December 10, 2011 at 02:01 PM
I saw the letter. It was a compromise not a verdict. From what I understand, there was an arbitration. Old Colony's claim against the town was for nearly a quarter million dollars. Would you rather have paid the construction invoices without challenge? Are you at least pleased that the Selectmen and the Finance Board took a position that we were not just going to roll over in the face of some questionable circumstances?
Kirk Carr December 10, 2011 at 06:29 PM
Mr. Sullivan: Out of $189,850 in change orders signed by the First Selectman and reviewed by RECON International, only $85,456 were in dispute. The settlement of $93,574.37 exceeds the disputed amount by $8,118. The town paid all but $1,000 of the $18,406 in arbitration expenses. So this delay tactic cost Clinton an additional $26,524. If you are interested in the original source of the dispute prepared by RECON International go to: https://www.yousendit.com/dl?phi_action=app/orchestrateDownload&rurl=https%253A%252F%252Fwww.yousendit.com%252Ftransfer.php%253Faction%253Dbatch_download%2526send_id%253D1310510740%2526email%253D1524894102e333658587d479a02cf9f6 Put these two documents together for the full picture: https://www.yousendit.com/dl?phi_action=app/orchestrateDownload&rurl=https%253A%252F%252Fwww.yousendit.com%252Ftransfer.php%253Faction%253Dbatch_download%2526send_id%253D1309647368%2526email%253D5e80a50532d4465fa0de998b656d3d8f The delay coincidently spared the First Selectman further embarrassment regarding Clinton Landing during election season. Do you believe in coincidence?
Bradford J. Sullivan December 10, 2011 at 08:52 PM
If you have the proverbial smoking gun that there was malfeasance then make an appointment with the State's Attorney and get going. Good luck.
Kirk Carr December 10, 2011 at 10:48 PM
Mr. Sullivan: The problem is that the passed proposition failed to designate amounts to individual projects and the Board of Selectman granted total discretion on priorities and amounts to the First Selectman who drove his blue pickup through it to the tune of $226+ thousand. This circumvented the intent of the Town Charter to bring line item adjustments great than $15,000 to a Town Meeting. Then the final judgement was delayed until after elections with a totally bogus dispute that added $26,524 to the taxpayers' tab. It appears that there is nothing anyone can do about it, except call it for what it is. I hope no more capital propositions go to voters that permit such broad discretion. Voters who return incumbents to office with records of fiscal indiscretion, get what they deserve. More of the same.

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