Independent Line On 106th District Ballot Will Remain Empty

Neither Independent Party of Newtown Chairman Bruce Walczak nor Republican Mitch Bolinsky will appear as the State Independent Party’s endorsed candidate for the 106th District on this November ballot. Mr Bolinsky, however, will retain his position on the ballot’s top line as the Republican candidate for the local assembly district.

The removal of both Mr Walczak and Mr Bolinsky from the Independent ballot line came after a decision in Waterbury Superior Court September 28, denying a motion by state Independents to have Mr Walczak’s name placed on the ballot. The recently elected chairman of the state Independent Party on September 6 filed a motion for Temporary Mandamus with the court.

The chairman, Michael Telesca, contended the nomination of Mr Bolinsky, which was filed by the state Independent Party’s previous chairman, should be superceded by Independent Party of Newtown (IPN) nominee Mr Walczak, whose nomination was accepted by the most recently elected state Independent chairman.

Defendants in the suit included John L. Dietter and Robert Fand, who claimed to have been in the positions of chairman and acting secretary of the state Independent Party when it put forward senate nominee Joe Markley and Mr Bolinsky for the 106th District.

Secretary of the State Denise Merrill is also a named defendant in the suit.

Mr Walczak initially responded to a request for comment via e-mail saying he was traveling out of state, and would consider responding upon his return. Mr Bolinsky released this statement to The Bee following the decision:

“It will be up to SOTS [secretary of the state] to restore me to the rightfully nominated, petitioned and earned Independent line but, at least the individuals found by the court to be incapable of following their own illegal party’s rules will not occupy the line in Newtown’s 106th House District and [the] 16th Senatorial District,” Mr Bolinsky stated. “Restoring State Senator Joe Markley and I to the cross-endorsed Independent lines, per the original endorsements of the rightful leadership of Connecticut’s Independent Party is the true corrective action still outstanding.

“If Denise Merrill’s office does anything but this, the right thing, it would lay waste to the rights of 112 Newtown voters who signed the Secretary of the State’s original petitions back on August 9,” Mr Bolinsky concluded.

But by the end of the day October 1, Town Clerk Debbie Aurelia confirmed that she was dispatching her printing order for absentee ballots leaving the Independent line blank. She told The Bee that she was supported in her decision to do so by the SOTS office.

Ms Aurelia said that if a subsequent directive to add Mr Bolinsky to the ballot is made to her from Ms Merrill’s office, she would have to get ballots reprinted, and possibly recall any absentee ballots already submitted that did not include Mr Bolinsky’s name on the Independent line.

But that outcome seems unlikely according to testimony by the secretary of the state’s attorney in the Waterbury court transcript, which was obtained by The Bee. In that transcript, the attorney for the secretary of the state said “there is no administrative procedure within the secretary of the state’s office to determine the validity of competing party rules or party nominations.”

The transcript also notes that military and overseas ballots have already been printed and distributed with no Independent candidate names for the 106th District, and the Waterbury area 16th Senate district in question. The secretary of the state’s attorney also noted that three of the four nominees involved already secured other party endorsements in their respective November contests, and only Mr Walczak would be dealt out of the fall race as a result of the court’s decision.

Mr Telesca argued that he is the rightful leader of the state Independent Party, and that his election to that post along with corresponding changes to party rules regarding nominations entitled Mr Walczak and the 16th District senate contender to occupy party lines on their respective state ballots.

But the defendant Independent Party representatives countered that Mr Telesca, without authority to do so, called a party caucus in March 2010; amended party rules at that caucus; held subsequent meetings to remove and replace the defending party officers; and subsequently “purported to have effectuated Independent Party of Connecticut endorsements of nominees for the 16th Senatorial and 106th House Districts,” according to the legal testimony.

Since the legal action only sought to have the latest nominees names placed on the ballots, and did not seek to dismiss or disqualify the assertions of the defendants regarding the validity of Mr Telesca’s authority in relation to the state Independent Party and its actions, there is no apparent legal recourse to change or reverse the ballot decision.

Only two candidates will be represented on the 106th District ballot locally on November 6 — Mr Bolinsky for the Republican Party and Lisa Romano, who is the Democratic nominee. Incumbent two-term Democrat Chris Lyddy opted to not run for a third term.

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