L-R: U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, First Selectman candidate Kit Devereaux, U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy and Jenny Esposito at the New Canaan Democrats BBQ at Kiwanis Park, on Sept. 10, 2017. Credit: Chandra Johnson Greene
L-R: Kathleen Corbet, U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy and First Selectman candidate Kit Devereaux at the New Canaan Democrats BBQ at Kiwanis Park, on Sept. 10, 2017. Credit: Chandra Johnson Greene
More than 100 local Democrats gathered at Kiwanis Park on Sunday to connect with each other ahead of November’s election, hear from and support their party’s candidates and mingle with Connecticut’s delegates in Congress.
The New Canaan Democrats’ 14th annual BBQ was hosted by Democratic Town Committee Chairman Bob Smith and attended by U.S. Sens. Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy, Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen and Secretary of the State Denise Merrill.
The three-hour event—in addition to raising campaign funds at $40 to $50 per ticket—shed light on local candidates’ plans for the town’s future, encouraged residents to get further involved in the town’s election process, and put a spotlight on some of those stepping down from their elected offices.
As attendees dined on a buffet of BBQ ribs, pulled pork sandwiches, and assorted sides courtesy of Dinosaur Bar-B-Q, both elected officials and candidates shared their thoughts on the political landscape on the local and national levels.
Blumenthal detailed his mission to fight against the Trump administration on a number of issues from healthcare to the president’s alleged ties with Russian officials during the 2016 election, which received enthusiastic applause from the audience.
“It’s a difficult and environment and our nation is going through a dark and dangerous time,” the Greenwich Democrat said.
Blumenthal added: “I can pledge to you that I’m going to continue to fight and make sure that the Trump administration is held accountable for aiding and abetting and colluding with the Russians and interfering with our election.”
Murphy focused on the significant effect the upcoming local election could have on Washington D.C. and expressed his gratitude for those who continue to represent the Democratic Party in New Canaan.
“We’re here for you,” Murphy said. “We’re just really here to tell you that in any way, shape or form, that we want to help. We’ve never had, at least in the time that I’ve been involved in politics locally, a better chance to win in New Canaan than we do with Kit and her team this fall…We know that it all happens at the local level…We know how difficult it is to put your name on the ballot in a local office, how difficult it is to do the job and so we’re grateful to you and we also realize that our success next November as a lot to do with your success this November.”
The program then turned to the town’s Democratic candidates who were each given the opportunity to address the crowd and discuss their goals for their campaigns.
Kit Devereaux, a former Town Council and Board of Finance member who serves on the Parks & Recration Commission and is running for first selectman against Republican candidate Kevin Moynihan, a councilman, highlighted her extensive finance background in the town, which she says is currently at the center of local political debate.
“I will approach this position as an official who’s a public servant and that means being able to hear what is beyond the loud voices and powerful voices,” she said. “Number one on my list of priorities is fiscal responsibility. I think we need to remain vigilant and cautious as we move forward because our financial and economic future is of interest right now.”
She added: “”I am really thrilled to be standing here and if you’d told me a year ago that I’d be up here, I would have laughed, but here I am and I’m excited. The most wonderful thing is that we have a really good shot at this … I have been very involved in New Canaan for a long time [and] this has given me to opportunity to understand how New Canaan works and keep it working.”
Town Council candidates Colm Dobbin, Liz Donovan, and Sven Englund, and town treasurer candidate Rob Fryer also were in attendance. With Devereaux, those four are involved in contested races. (The full slate of Democratic candidates for local office can be found here.)
In addition, Selectman Beth Jones and Town Council Secretary Kathleen Corbet, who are both stepping down from their positions later this year, were honored for their service and presented with gifts by DTC member Angela Jameson.
Smith said the strong turnout showed “that there’s a lot of energy on the Democratic side.”
“It didn’t quite double [prior years], but we had a very good turnout,” he said. “And also, several people bought tickets, but knew they couldn’t show up, so there’s a lot of energy on our side. We’re going to do a lot of door knocking, write a lot of Letters to the Editor, and hopefully, we’ll have some success.”
Dobbin said the party has “a lot of enthusiasm.”
“We understand that there’s disproportionate number of Democrats in town and a large number of unaffiliated people. So if we can get people to be enthusiastic and understand what our plank is … we’re hopeful.”
Longtime New Canaan Democrat Sperry DeCew said “it’s a time of change in New Canaan” and that “it would be nice to think [Kit] has got a realistic possibility of pulling some votes.”