On Tuesday, March 2, Hartford Democrats are scheduled to go to the polls to vote in Town Committee races in three districts: the 4th, 5th and 7th.
However, allegations of irregularities among some of the petitions submitted by one of the slates in the 5th District could possibly cancel out that particular election.
Petitions were due by 4 pm last Wednesday, January 27, in the Registrar of Voters office. According to City Clerk John Bazzano, town committee slates in the 5th district had to collect at least 323 signed and verified petitions in order to be on the ballot in March.
Bazzano said Slate B, which includes Democratic Registrar of Voters Olga Iris Vazquez among others, turned in 472 signatures. Slate C, which includes State Representative Marie Kirkley-Bey and others, collected 434 signed petitions.
But Kirkley-Bey claims that “a majority” of the petitions that were turned in by Slate B were initially incomplete and were only completed later – after the 4 pm deadline last Wednesday.
Kirkley-Bey said her slate contacted Ted Bromley from the Connecticut Secretary of State’s office after learning about the allegedly incomplete petitions and he informed them that any petitions that did not have “Section C” filled out should be declared null and void.
Bazzano said the Registrar’s office had 48 hours after its deadline at 4 pm on Wednesday before turning them into his office. By that time, 4 pm on Friday, January 29, apparently all of Slate B’s petitions had been completely filled in.
Kirkley-Bey said her slate “will probably take [the dispute] to court.”
Vazquez could not be reached for comment Wednesday afternoon.
In addition, Democratic Town Chairman Sean Arena is facing a challenge from Attorney Bruce Rubenstein.
Rubenstein said he is running because, “The Democratic Town Committee needs to be refurbished with new leadership and new people.” Rubenstein said the city’s Democratic party had been “embarrassed” by the strong showing of the Working Families Party (WFP) in last year’s Board of Education elections. WFP candidates finished second, third and fifth in the voting while the Democratic candidates finished first, fourth and sixth. “I don’t ever want to see that happen again,” said Rubenstein.
Arena said he is standing on his record. “I feel that I have done more than any party chairman in recent years to reach out to every district town committee in the city...[In] the past two years I have brought in to the town committee elected officials and candidates for statewide office, to tell us of their vision and how they plan on helping Hartford. So when the time comes we will be at the table to help make decisions for our city.” Arena also cited his work in both the community and the party as reasons why he should retain the chairman’s position.