Of the 57 registered Democrats present at the July 22 Democratic caucus in the town hall annex, 41 voted to nominate Deborah McFadden to run for first selectman in the first contested election for the position in 10 years.
The balance of the vote was divided, nine for Brian Lilly and seven abstentions.
The Democratic Town Committee also elected to nominate Brian Lilly and Gil Bray to run for the Board of Selectmen, John Kalamarides for the Board of Finance, Laura Schwemm for the Board of Education, Keith Rodgerson for the Planning & Zoning Commission, Charlie Lewis for the Board of Assessment Appeals and John Gardiner and Bo Mitchell for Constable.
There was no nominated candidate for the Zoning Board of Appeals.
Committee member Carol Ball nominated McFadden. She noted her experience as a town official but also as a member of the community, citing her volunteer involvement with the PTA, Boy Scouts and Wilton football to go along with her service on the Board of Selectmen and as a constable.
“Deb personifies the Wilton Democratic voter,” said Ball.
In her acceptance speech, McFadden said she is “all in (the) race,” and she wants to “unite the party.”
“It’s great that the party is alive in Wilton,” she said. “The Democrats are going to win.”
McFadden warned, however, the party has an uphill battle to fight and its victory is contingent upon its members’ ability to cooperate, especially considering the affiliation of the town of Wilton.
“Let’s unite as a team and let’s win this, because right now, at this very moment, at Trackside, the Republicans are nominating their candidate. This was the easy part. The hard part is now to win as a Democrat in a Republican town, and I can’t do it alone. I only do it if all of you, everybody, whether you voted for me or not, can work together to win this as a party.”
One Wilton resident was concerned the committee did not nominate a woman to run for Board of Selectman.
Barbara Holdridge, who said she has lived in Wilton for 50 years, spoke out against the nomination of Lilly and Bray, saying, “I’m disappointed that you’re not nominating a woman. We have had an all-men’s club for too long.”
One woman who did not give her name opposed the nomination of Keith Rodgerson for Planning & Zoning on the grounds he had lost a statewide election in the past, to which committee member Sharon Grace replied, “I’d just like to remind everybody that Abraham Lincoln lost a lot of elections before he became a great president.” Rodgerson was defeated by Gail Lavielle in a run for state representative in 2014.
Despite the small number of dissenting voices, Wilton Democratic Town Committee Chair Maryli Secrest felt the July 22 caucus portrayed a unified Wilton Democratic Party.
“Wilton Democrats came together tonight to rally behind a set of outstanding candidates and gave voters in Wilton a choice in November,” she said. “The strong turnout shows that the party in engaged and energized for this election.”
The caucus also approved the 2015-2017 Wilton Democratic Platform, titled the Listen to Wilton Platform.
According to chairperson of the Platform Committee for 2015-2017, Ernest G. Ricco, Listen to Wilton is a “living document.”
“It’s not just something that’s done and put away,” he said.
Listen to Wilton’s planks fall under three categories: fiscal responsibility, town character and education.
The Democratic Town Committee hopes its elected officials will, among other things, push financial efficiency, implement the Plan of Conservation and Development, and provide whatever resources are necessary for the success of Wilton’s students.
Election day is Nov. 3, giving candidates roughly three months to campaign.