Wilton Democrats will have a new leader when they head into the municipal election this fall. Maryli Secrest was named the new chair of the Democratic Town Committee (DTC) at its meeting on Tuesday, July 7, as Tom Dec steps down after two years in office. He will pursue a law degree at the University of California at Berkeley.
“It was an honor to be able to serve and play a role in supporting the party and town of Wilton,” Dec said in an email to The Bulletin. “We accomplished a lot over the past two years and raised the profile of the DTC by advocating on key issues, recruiting and supporting strong candidates and paving the way for what will be the first contested race for first selectman in 10 years. I am thankful to the committee and to all of the people whom I’ve had the pleasure of working with over the past two years.”
Although a relatively new member of the DTC, Secrest has been a familiar face to Wilton Democrats, having worked on Congressman Jim Himes’ (D-4th) re-election campaigns in 2010 and 2012. She ran the Himes campaign in 2014.
“In the 2012 election cycle I started working with the Wilton DTC,” she said, getting to know Dec and his predecessor, John Kalamarides. “I got to know a lot of the players in Wilton working on the federal campaign.”
She joined the DTC after the 2014 election and now is running Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch’s re-election campaign.
She became involved in the DTC’s nominating committee for this year’s election and when he announced he was stepping down, she felt it was a natural step for her to take over.
“I’ve worked closely with Maryli over a number of years, including this past election cycle, and know she will do an outstanding job as chair of the DTC,” Dec said. “She has deep experience in Fairfield County working for Democratic candidates and causes, which I think will be particularly helpful as we look to competitive races this November.”
At last week’s meeting, the DTC also endorsed Deborah McFadden as the Democratic candidate to run for first selectman and the nominating committee presented a “great, vibrant slate of candidates,” Secrest said, although the slate will not be final until the party’s caucus on July 22.
“I am not sure if there will be any surprises,” she said, alluding to the fact candidates may be nominated from the floor at the caucus, “but we have lots of qualified folks, which is a good sign.”
Of McFadden she said, “I’ve known Deb for years, she cares a lot about Wilton and I couldn’t think of a better candidate.”
In terms of campaign strategy, she said “it’s going to be a group effort. For me, I’ve been in campaigns a long time and the best way to win is with person-to-person contact, talking to voters, gaining support the old-fashioned way.”
Secrest has lived in Wilton since 2013 with her husband Keith Rodgerson, who ran an unsuccessful campaign for state representative in 2014, and their four-year-old son Jasper.
Prior to working in politics, Secrest was in the nonprofit arena, running the Connecticut office of Citizens Campaign for the Environment.