Dec is Democrats’ new leader
With two strong endorsements from the floor and no opposition, Tom Dec was elected the new chairman of the Wilton Democratic Town Committee at its meeting Tuesday, July 2.
At 21, Mr. Dec, who graduated Yale University with a degree in political science, is the youngest town committee chair in Wilton history, according to the DTC. He will fill the unexpired term of John Kalamarides through January 2014. Mr. Kalamarides stepped down in June.
Mr. Dec, who is deputy campaign manager for the Stamford mayoral campaign of David Martin, has been active in politics since he was a student at Wilton High School. He said he wants to raise the party’s profile in Wilton and raise its voice in town issues.
He has been a member of the Wilton DTC while in college in New Haven, a point noted by committee member Paul Burnham who nominated Mr. Dec for the chairmanship.
“I have to say I was amazed at his tenacity,” Mr. Burnham said, referring to Mr. Dec’s habit of returning to Wilton for DTC meetings during the school year.
“Now that he is a graduate and working on a campaign in the Stamford mayoral race, he has the time and skills to lead our organization,” he said. Although Mr. Dec is only 21, Mr. Burnham said he “has wisdom” that belies his age.
Referring to Mr. Dec’s leadership abilities, Mr. Burnham said, “I look forward to voting for him in a state or national race.”
Mr. Dec’s nomination was seconded by Selectman Ted Hoffstatter, who said Mr. Dec would bring both “youth and experience” to the position, remarking on his efforts campaigning for U.S. Representative Jim Himes (D-4th). “He will do an awesome job.
“One thing I love is his idea of outreach ... he’ll help us with our brand in town,” Mr. Hoffstatter added.
After his unanimous election, Mr. Dec said, “I can’t thank you all enough for your support ... being elected chair really means a lot.”
After Vice Chair Deborah McFadden turned the meeting over to him, Mr. Dec said, “I want to challenge the basic assumption Wilton is a Republican town and will only elect Republicans,” adding Democrat Peggy Reeves won the 143rd District seat in 2008 and a number of neighboring towns have elected Democratic first selectmen.
“I think trying to turn Wilton blue will not be an easy feat,” he said. At present, there are 2,967 registered Democrats in Wilton, 4,260 registered Republicans and 4,197 unaffiilated voters.
“We will have to put forth a Wilton Democrats 2.0 plan,” he continued, adding the party would have to field competitive candidates for office and become a stronger voice in town affairs.
After the meeting he expanded on those ideas, saying, “We can be more active in reaching out to Democrats not involved in politics.
“Doing that is important. I think strengthening our campaign operation will help to strengthen the party in general.
“We also have to have a more active voice in town issues.” The party has a platform which it needs to do a better job of publicizing, he said.
He also said he would like to see more diversity within the DTC itself, which at present numbers 23 people, following three resignations that have not yet been filled.
John Kalamarides, the man Mr. Dec is succeeding, said he was “delighted” at Mr. Dec’s election. “He’s been active in the DTC as our youngest member for four or five years,” Mr. Kalamarides said. “He’s enthusiastic and intelligent. We’re really hoping this is the beginning of a big political career. I hope everyone gathers around him and works well for him. I’m looking forward to watching it all from a distance.”
Mr. Dec is a Wilton native who graduated from Wilton High School in 2009. He got his feet wet in the political arena in 2007, volunteering as the state’s high school coordinator for Students for Barack Obama.
He began attending DTC meetings in 2008, and that summer he interned for Mr. Himes’ campaign. He attended the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver, Colo. as a guest.
After graduating high school, he worked as a paid staff assistant to Mr. Martin’s mayoral campaign in 2009. That November he voted in his first municipal election.
In 2010, Mr. Dec became operations coordinator of Mr. Himes’ re-election campaign, leading an internship program with more than 35 participants. He also was elected to serve on the Wilton delegation to the Democratic State Convention, where he supported Dan Malloy for governor.
He became an official member of the DTC in July 2010, at age 18, and has been active in elevating the committee’s social media and web presence.
When Mr. Himes sought a third term in 2012, Mr. Dec returned to the campaign and served as deputy political director and operations director. He was the principal liaison to the Democratic town committees of the 4th District. He was also elected a delegate to the 2012 Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., the youngest man in the delegation.
He may be reached at email@example.com. For information on the DTC, visit wiltondems.org.