Saying political partisanship has no place here, Selectman Kit Devereaux on Tuesday criticized the manner in which fellow Democrats are being removed from leadership positions on local boards and commissions.
Calling changes now underway in the chairmanships of municipal bodies “a matter that has been a concern not only me but to many of our constituents,” Devereaux during the Board of Selectmen’s regular meeting said she has no issue with “the first selectman’s right to shape our boards and commissions with his appointments.”
“I do find it of great concern when the chairs in question feel embarrassed or demeaned in the process,” Devereaux said at the meeting, held in Town Hall.
“These volunteers have given decades of invaluable service to New Canaan. They should be honored. They should be treated with dignity and respect, not embarrassed. Further, I think that any such action should be motivated by what is in the best interests of New Canaan, and not because a chair happens to be a member of an inconvenient political party. At the town level, national politics should have no place.”
The comments came during a segment of the meeting dedicated to general matters before the town.
First Selectman Kevin Moynihan did not respond to Devereaux.
Her comments followed an awkward organizational meeting last week where the chairmanship on the Police Commission turned over from a Democrat to a Republican. The former chair, Sperry DeCew, appeared upset about the change. Asked about it afterwards, Moynihan said that Police Commissioner Paul Foley had a right to the chairmanship if he wanted it, and that New Canaan is a Republican town. Asked about other potential changes in the political affiliation of those chairing local boards and commissions, Moynihan indicated that the leadership on the Health and Human Services Commission could change. That appointed body currently is chaired by a Democrat.
It isn’t clear whether Moynihan and other Republicans have discussed making such changes in caucus. The first selectman declined to comment when asked about it.
New Canaan’s boards and commissions are chaired by both Republicans and Democrats.
Republicans outnumber Democrats in New Canaan by nearly 2-to-1. The gap has closed in recent years. Here’s a snapshot of the electorate:
New Canaan Voter Count—Nov. 1, 2019
In 2016, New Canaan had 6,598 Republicans, 4,189 unaffiliated voters and 2,957 Democrats, according to the Registrar of Voters.