Friday, October 10, 2014

Election 2014 State House of Representatives Candidates

Waterbury is divided into five legislative districts: 71, 72, 73, 74, 75.

You can find out which district you vote in by first checking your voter registration information, and then going to the Waterbury Registrar of Voters webpage to see where your polling place is located. (For example, my polling place is Reed School, which is in the 72nd District.)

You can also use the district map provided by the Connecticut State Library to find out which House and Senate districts you live in--but you vote based on where you are registered, so if you didn't update your voter registration after the last time you moved, you might not be voting in your home district.

Now, on to the candidates!

71st District

The 71st is the only Waterbury House district to include another town, spreading into Middlebury from Town Plot. The incumbent legislator is Republican Anthony D'Amelio, who has served in the State House of Representatives since 1996.

Anthony D'Amelio
(photo from CBIA website)

D'Amelio's only opponent in this election is Independent candidate Raymond E. Rivard. He lives in Middlebury and grew up in Waterbury. He does not appear to have a campaign website, and instead has appeared on cable access to present his position. He was a petitioning candidate for the Middlebury Police Commission in 2011, and lost that election.

72nd District

The 72nd has been my home district for many years. Democrat Larry Butler has been our State Rep since 2006. He cares about his district, is involved with what happens here, and has done a good job as our legislator. He has worked well with Waterbury's delegates in Hartford, a solid member of a good team of legislators.

Larry Butler
(photo from state website)

Butler's Republican challenger is Ruben Rodriguez. You may remember Ruben Rodriguez from the 2011 election, when he was a Democrat candidate for the Board of Aldermen on Neil O'Leary's slate, until he dropped out of the race. I worked for that campaign, so what I write next is based on my personal experiences and opinions. This is what I remember happening. Back in 2011, David Aldarondo was the State Rep for the 75th District, and he had a fair amount of clout. Aldarondo chose Rodriguez to be the Aldermanic candidate representing the Hispanic community, and then he demanded $50,000 from the O'Leary campaign to fund campaign operations in the 75th District, significantly more money than could possibly be justified. O'Leary refused, stating something along the lines of "I know a shake-down when I see one." Aldarondo wasn't going to take no for an answer. He wanted that money, and he was furious to have been denied. He threatened to have Rodriguez drop out of the race, which would leave the Democrats short one candidate and saddle the campaign with a potential publicity fiasco. O'Leary again refused to give Aldarondo what he wanted. Rodriguez promptly dropped out of the election, too close to election day for a substitute to be found. The Hispanic community rallied around O'Leary, and a year later, Aldarondo was voted out of office. (Note: while I did not personally hear Aldarondo's demands and threats, I did see him storm out of the campaign headquarters with Rodriguez in tow. Everything I witnessed supported what I was told about the discussions I didn't witness.)

Ruben Rodriguez
(photo from campaign website)

Now, three years later, Ruben "Quitter" Rodriguez has resurfaced as a Republican running for state office. There's been no sign of him in the past three years, nothing to indicate a continuing interest in public affairs or in helping the community at large. If Rodriguez volunteers for any organizations, I can't find that information. His website, Facebook page, and Twitter account don't reveal anything about him beyond his candidacy. His only known political experience: quitting a few weeks before he would have been elected to the Board of Aldermen. Based on what I learned about him in 2011, even before he quit the campaign, I would have to say that he is not even remotely qualified to serve in the Connecticut House of Representatives. I'm shocked and appalled that the Republicans put him on the ticket, and I would not be surprised to learn that there are financial shenanigans happening with his campaign. His candidacy diminishes the entire Waterbury Republican Party.

Perhaps something has happened that I don't know about. Perhaps Rodriguez regrets his actions and has renounced his dubious association with Aldarondo. But I still don't think he's qualified to serve as a State Representative.

There is a third candidate for the 72nd: Richard J. Cam, whose large signs are seen every election cycle. This year he's added "CT Veteran" to the tops of the signs. As with most minor party and no party candidates, Cam doesn't have any online presence, making it pretty much impossible for voters to know whether or not they want to vote for him.

Richard Cam campaign sign

Seriously, guys, it's 2014--get a free Blogger, WordPress or Facebook page and put your full candidate biography and platform on it. Don't have a computer? Use one of the public computers at the library. Find someone computer savvy to assist you. If you can't get your act together well enough to put a biography and platform online, you aren't ready for public office.

73rd District

The 73rd District is currently represented by Democrat Jeffrey Berger, who has been in office since 2001.

Jeffrey Berger
(photo from state website)

Berger's opponent in this year's election is Independent candidate Francis J. Caiazzo, Jr., co-owner of Frankie's, who has previously served on the Waterbury Board of Aldermen as a Democrat. This race is interesting, since it is basically pitting two well-known Democrats, both with solid political experience, against each other. However, since Caiazzo is running as a candidate with the Independent Party, I don't think he has much of a shot. I say this not because of any opinion about how the party is viewed in Waterbury, but because they seem to be in total disarray. They have a website, but it hasn't been updated since before last year's election. They used to have a Facebook page, but that appears to be gone now. They have a YouTube channel, but that also hasn't been updated since the last election. It would seem that Waterbury's Independent Party is the Larry DePillo Show, and if he isn't running, then none of their candidates will be promoted by the party.

Francis J. Caiazzo, Jr.
(photo from Rep-Am website)

74th District

Republican Selim Noujaim has been the State Representative for the 74th District since 2002. He's another one of those great politicians who does his job well, takes his responsibilities seriously, and is respected by pretty much everyone.

Selim Noujaim
(photo from state website)

The Independent Party has put forth a candidate to run against Noujaim. Margaret A. O'Brien, who ran as an Independent Party candidate for the Board of Education last year, works as an advocate for special needs children. I can't find any campaign related information about her.

Margaret A. O'Brien
(photo from Independent Party website)

75th District

Democrat Victor Cuevas became the Representative for the 75th District in 2012, after an impressive, monumental grass roots effort to mobilize the Hispanic community, which has a long history of not being involved in Waterbury politics.

Victor Cuevas
(photo from state website)

There seems to be some disarray within Waterbury's Republican Party, at least in regards to the 75th District. The Republican candidate, Jesus Vazquez, was forced to withdraw from the race because he doesn't live in the 75th District. A recent article in the Rep-Am suggested that the Republicans weren't aware that a state law, which permitted candidates to live outside the district until elected, had been changed so that they must live within the district while a candidate. The local Republican Party officials really should have been aware of this.

Meanwhile, Republican John "Jack" Alseph, Jr. is running as the Independent Party candidate for the 75th District. Last year, he was a candidate for the Board of Education on the Republican ticket. In 2012, Alseph was the Republican candidate for the 75th District.

The same Rep-Am article I mentioned above suggests there is a rift between Alseph and the local GOP, which is why he isn't their candidate this year. Alseph doesn't come across well in the article, which states that he doesn't have the time or money to run for office, that he's too busy preparing to get married, and that he's running only because he doesn't want Cuevas to win. Considering that Alseph is retired, saying that he doesn't have time to campaign is not going to help him win. If he doesn't have time to campaign, how will be have time to be a legislator?

John "Jack" Alseph, Jr.
(photo from VanStoneforMayor website)

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