Eleven Wilton Democrats were among the roughly 2,000 delegates at the State Democratic Convention last weekend who endorsed a slate led by Sen. Chris Murphy for this fall’s much-anticipated mid-term election.

It is a time, Murphy told the Friday-Saturday gathering at the Hartford’s Connecticut Convention Center, for Democrats to remind the nation who they are, a press release from the Wilton Democratic Town Committee said.

“We believe as Democrats that injustice done to one of us is injustice to all of us,” he said. “That’s why we’re Democrats. Because of that, we’re the party of Social Security. We’re the party of Medicare,” adding, “We believe that government is us.’’

Wilton Delegates, led by Democratic Town Committee Chair Tom Dubin, included Selectwoman Deborah McFadden, candidate for State Representative in the 125th District Ross Tartell, former Registrar of Voters Carole Young-Kleinfeld, and Board of Finance members John Kalamarides and Richard Creeth. Other Wilton delegates were Leslie Holmes, Charlie Lewis, Ceci Maher, Vicki Rossi, and Melissa Spohn. Seven of the 11 were first-time convention participants.

During all-day sessions Friday and Saturday the convention endorsed the following candidates in addition to Murphy:

  • Ned Lamont for Governor.

  • Susan Bysiewicz for Lieutenant Governor.

  • William Tong for Attorney General.

  • Denise Merrill for re-election as Secretary of State.

  • Kevin Lembo for re-election as Comptroller.

  • Shawn Wooden for Treasurer.

“It was exciting, fascinating, and energizing,” Tartell said in the release. “The candidates' speeches shared many consistent themes, including an optimistic embrace for the future of both Connecticut and our nation based on inclusion and growth — as well as a heightened concern regarding the words and actions of President Trump.”

McFadden, who has worn the same straw hat to similar conventions since 1980, found this gathering especially energizing. “It is a time to select our standard bearers, but also to renew friendships and build alliances to advance agendas benefiting Wilton and the citizens of Connecticut. It is a somewhat chaotic process but fun at the same time. This year was more exciting than most, because we had so many open constitutional offices and many excellent candidates.”

In her farewell speech to the convention outgoing Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman summed up the mood with this call to action:  “November is right around the corner — 172 days away, but who’s counting? We have a tough election in front of us, but we can beat back Republicans who seek to turn back the clock on us. We all have to hit the pavement for our candidates.’’
26th District
Locally, more than 100 turned out for the nominating convention for the 26th district state senate, which took place in Westport Town Hall and saw Will Haskell elected as the Democratic candidate.

State Rep. Jonathan Steinberg (D-136) of Westport nominated Haskell from the floor, and Ridgefield First Selectman Rudy Marconi seconded the nomination.

“I love this state, and I’m so thankful that I was able to grow up here. That’s why I’m determined to make it better. For those of us who have the privilege of living here, it’s our job to fight for a more sustainable, more prosperous, more equitable future,” Haskell told supporters. “It’s our job to protect this community from Donald Trump’s policies. All of this means that it’s our job to vote in November.”

“In each of these conversations, I find that it’s easy to be pessimistic. Listen to my opponent and you’ll find that Republicans have cornered the market on doom-and-gloom. It’s harder to be optimistic, and harder still to roll up your sleeves and try to be a part of the solution. But this is a time in my life — and more importantly, a time in our nation’s history — to do something that’s difficult,” he said.

Haskell, 21, has attracted a number of young supporters. Given their interest, four of Wilton’s elected delegates gave their proxies to Wilton High School seniors. Those four voted in the process as full delegates: Gracyn Sollmann, Cameron Berg, Emily Kesselman and Nick Koleszar.

Raised in Westport, Haskell is running on a platform of long-term investments in infrastructure, common sense gun control and a prosperous economy for all. He is challenging incumbent Toni Boucher, a Republican from Wilton.

Haskell closed his speech with a call for hard work and optimism.

“I’m under no illusion that this campaign will be easy. But I’m certain we deserve better. I’m certain that we cannot keep electing the same state senator and expecting different results. I’m certain we’ll knock on more doors, make more calls, visit more living rooms and propose better policies. Unlike my opponent, I’m certain that Connecticut’s best days lie ahead of us, not behind us.”

Haskell urges any resident of the 26th district to give him a call on his cell phone at 203-856-0873. Information: WillHaskellforCT.com.
125th District
Wilton resident Ross Tartell won the Democratic nomination on May 16 to challenge Republican incumbent Tom O’Dea to represent the 125th legislative district. The district encompasses portions of Wilton and New Canaan.

In an interview with The Bulletin the day after the campaign, Tartell said his priorities, if elected, would be transportation, healthcare, and social issues such as guns and opioid addiction. He would also work to foster research on the advisability of re-establishing tolls on Connecticut highways.

“These are transformational times that we live in. My skill set is right for this time,” he said. “We need someone who spent a career building, collaborating, and leading teams. … It’s about creating something that’s better.”

Tartell’s business background includes stints at GE Capital and Pfizer before founding his own consulting business. He is also an adjunct professor of psychology and education at Teachers College, Columbia University. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Hofstra University and his MBA is from Columbia Business School. He also has a master’s in education and doctorate in social psychology from Teachers College.

Tartell and his wife, Karen, have lived in Wilton since 1989. A longtime civic volunteer, he serves on the Wilton Fire Commission.