Democrats gather to support candidates

“It’s good to see the Democratic Party is alive and well in Wilton,” state Attorney General George Jepsen told Wilton Democrats Saturday, Sept. 6, as they gathered at Merwin Meadows for their fall barbecue.

Although the weather was anything but fall-like — temperatures were in the low 90s — candidates up for election or re-election took the opportunity to address the party faithful, with less than two months until voters head to the polls.

Mr. Jepsen reminded Democrats the results of an election in a town like Wilton can have national repercussions.

“Towns like Wilton used to be [staunchly] Republican,” he said, but now they can go either way.

“Jimmy Carter lost Connecticut,” he said of the 1976 presidential election. As the state has changed from red to purple to blue, he said, it allows national campaigns to invest more money in other states and thus, “can tip a national election.”

Mr. Jepsen was followed by Jim Himes, who stepped up to the microphone and said, “I have one message I am uniquely qualified to give as the only elected official you have going to serve in the House of Representatives. I see every single day that what happens in November is essential” to the way the nation thinks about education, healthcare, a woman’s reproductive rights, and the environment.

“For all these things they say ‘no,’” he said, referring to members of the Republican Party.

“Not turning out to vote is not an option,” he said. “If you want your voice silenced or marginalized, then don’t vote.

Local candidates

Keith Rodgerson, running for the 143rd State House District, said, “I am really glad to be part of this team. We’re the voice of progress.”

Mr. Rodgerson, who has qualified for public financing and thus will receive more than $90,000 in public funding, introduced Phil Sharlach, who, he said, is in “a bear of a race” for the 26th State Senate District. Mr. Sharlach has not reached the threshold for public financing, falling short by about $5,000 to date.

Every speaker urged assembled Democrats to help Mr. Sharlach reach that goal.

“If we don’t qualify,” Mr. Sharlach said, “it is like writing the Republican Party a check for $115,000.”

Mr. Sharlach said he was qualified to go to Hartford based on his life in management consulting, including time spent at the U.S. Accountability Office in Washington.

He believes he can improve operations of state government and keep taxes down.

He also champions expanded use of freight trains over trucks and improving the commuter rail lines.

The Democrats will open their campaign headquarters Sept. 25 in the Crossways plaza in Wilton Center.