Democratic Town Committee picnic Dems try to build on success
GREENWICH — Last year Greenwich Democrats met with far more success than usual at the ballot box, and the party faithful are looking to build on that in the upcoming November elections.
On Sunday afternoon, the Greenwich Democratic Town Committee held its annual picnic, touting state Senate candidate Alexandra Bergstein and state House candidates Laura Kostin and Stephen Mesgers — all first-time contenders trying to break the Republican grip on state Legislature seats from Greenwich.
“They’re willing to be thoughtful about their votes and not always tow the party line,” DTC Chair Tony Turner said Sunday. “That degree of independence they bring to the table is something we feel is very, very important for voters.”
Turner said the DTC had sold approximately 330 tickets for the picnic, up from the 189 in 2017. Additionally, the number of guests and other attendees swelled the crowd size closer to 400.
“We have more unaffiliated voters here than ever before,” Turner said. “We have more Republican voters here than ever before, and we have more split-registration households here than ever before. We’ve got more first-time Democrats than ever before and we have young Democrats here. The momentum we’re seeing is in a number of demographics and it’s fantastic.”
Bergstein is challenging incumbent State Sen. L. Scott Frantz, R-36, in a district that covers all of Greenwich as well as parts of Stamford and New Canaan. She said she is encouraged from the reaction she has received on the campaign trail as she has focused on pension reform, infrastructure reform and tax reform as part of an economic recovery plan.
“Everywhere I go people are enthusiastic and receptive,” Bergstein said. “People, regardless of party, want to hear about real solutions that can drive us forward. They don’t want to hear about who caused problems or who’s to blame. They want realistic solutions. … People are jaded and they can hear right through fluff and campaign rhetoric. They’ve heard that for years and years and years. They are hungry for the truth and real solutions.”
In his race against incumbent State Rep. Michael Bocchino, R-150, Meskers said he has knocked on 2,200 doors and will make sure he gets to every one in the district.
“The response has been overwhelmingly positive,” Meskers said. “People have been very warm and welcoming and have been expressing their concerns on the economy and health care and women’s health issues. They’re thrilled to have someone show up on their door and ask for their votes.”
Based on his 35 years of experience in investment banking, Meskers said he feels he knows how to redirect the state in the right direction. He said the regulatory environment and taxes need to be addressed to encourage companies that are in Connecticut to hire more employees and to get more companies to move to Connecticut. Lowering the marginal tax rate for companies can do that, he said.
Kostin is running against Republican incumbent state Rep. Fred Camillo in the 151st District. She said her main goal has been to listen to the concerns of voters.
“I think everybody is very concerned about the economy and whether Connecticut can be a leader in job growth again,” Kostin said. “They keep telling me they’re worried that people are leaving our state and that we’re losing our young people and I’m worried about it too. I think we need to lower our corporate tax rate. I think if companies are lured here by paying less and employ more people as a result, I think our income tax receipts will go and more people will pay sales tax and gas tax. That’s a win.”
State Rep. Livvy Floren, R-149, does not have a Democratic challenger.
Last November, Greenwich Democrats met with surprising success. The party won control of the town’s Board of Estimate and Taxation for the first time in Greenwich’s recorded history and Democrat Howard Richman defeated incumbent Republican Tax Collector Tod Laudonia. Additionally, the Democrats exceeded expectations in the Board of Education race, and Selectman Sandy Litvack did better than anticipated in his race against First Selectman Peter Tesei.
“We want to harness the energy,” Turner said. “We have so many people now and we want to tap into that volunteerism. We have armies available today and we need to tap into that and do the work, whether it’s knocking on doors, making phone calls, recruiting people to get people to the polls.”
Greenwich Republicans are set to have their annual September gathering next weekend. The Cos Cob Republican Club and Greenwich Republican Town Committee Clambake will take place Sept. 23 at Greenwich Point with Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob Stefanowski expected to appear along with Frantz, Floren, Bocchino and Camillo.