It was not a good election year for the Town’s Democrats. The losses by incumbent John Lillis of his Town Council seat, incumbent Shelly Pruss’ loss of his Board of Finance seat, incumbent Janice Vance’s loss of her Zoning seat and Larry Stillman’s loss of his bid for a Board of Ed seat have far-ranging implications for the Town’s Democratic Party. Lillis, also the DTC Chair, got more votes than the other Democratic Council candidates on the Dem line but lost because others got votes on the New Milford First line and these were added to their final counts.
Pruss, a devoted Dem and former Mayoral candidate, has served the Town for many years in various capacities including the Town Council and his name was on the NMF ballot. Stillman, also a former Democratic Mayoral candidate, is a retired foot doctor whose business was in Town, has served on the Board of Ed and his name was also on the NMF ballot. Despite this history, he failed to get more votes than two newcomers. Vance was also on the NMF ballot.
Say what you may about candidates running on more than one party line – I think it is wrong – it is clear that despite New Milford First’s utter failure to get one of its people elected and that being on its line was the kiss of death for others, the Party may now be able to achieve an unintended goal: the takeover of the Town’s Democratic Party.
Think about it.
Who are the DTC’s two major players? John Lillis and former Mayor Liba Furhman. Furhman is not on my list of favorites but I credit her for arguably knowing more about how to play the political game than anyone else in Town. With Furhman distracted by employment that requires her to stay away from politics and Lillis being discouraged by his recent loss and without meaningful support, who of the real Dems is left to waive the Party’s flag? Certainly not Councilmen Mullen or Lundgren who really aren’t participating Members and whose distaste for the “old guard” was palpably visible at the Council Meetings. Pruss and Wargo can’t do it alone and appear to have lost their enthusiasm for Party politics. So what will happen? Who will fill the void? My guess is that it will be filled with the likes of New Milford First’s Gerry Monaghan who used Bob Kostes’ money to finance the only negativity heard throughout the campaign season. I predict that New Milford First will close its shop if its Members successfully step into the DTC.
The message for the DTC is simple. Don’t allow the NMF malcontents into your tent. If you want to continue to lose, continue to allow your candidates’ names to appear on its ballot; you can’t run as a team if your team players are on another team. If you allow this, you will be relegated to mediocrity for years to come.
It is important to remember in 2011 that New Milford First’s only mission in 2009 was to try to confuse New Milford voters but that the voters saw right through it. Remember not only the ploy in 2011 but the names of the players, no matter what their political affiliation.