August 5, 2020
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The Same Shrinking Group

Published Sep. 11, 2019

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There’s a political clique that tries to control Clinton by repeatedly running friends and allies for office. That clique is the Republican Town Committee (RTC), which has the power to endorse candidates for local elections. Unfortunately, its slate of candidates for the November election represents the same shrinking group of insiders, with few exceptions.

Clinton’s new charter prohibits individuals from holding two elected offices simultaneously, but that hasn’t stopped the RTC from making a number of duplicate endorsements described below.

First, RTC Chairman James Staunton is endorsed for alternate positions on both the Board of Assessment Appeals and the Planning & Zoning (PZC) Commission. His spouse Catherine Staunton is endorsed for the Board of Education (BOE).

Carol Walter, a current selectman, town employee, and union member (who is often forced to recuse herself from selectmen meetings), is endorsed for a position on the new Town Council. Dylan Walter, a real estate agent, is endorsed for a second term on the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) and is also endorsed for BOE and PZC positions. Serving on even one land use board while selling real estate presents an obvious conflict. At the same time, Carol Walter works for the Clinton Building Department.

The Richards family’s influence could be expanding as land use developer Mark Richards’ term on the ZBA expires and he runs for the Town Council. Andrew Richards sits on PZC until 2021, but he is also endorsed for the ZBA, creating a conflict similar to Dylan Walter’s.

Regarding the police commission, the RTC dumped respected and knowledgeable incumbent State Police Sergeant Rob Derry in favor of former first selectman Bruce Farmer, elected in 2015 by one vote, who then ran a write-in campaign in 2017 garnering only 221 votes.

Selectman Phil Sengle (R)

Phil Sengle is a Green Party candidate for Board of Police Commissioners.