Parties seek candidates heading into July caucuses

With 25 board and commission seats to be filled in the November election, Ridgefield political parties are searching for new candidates, interviewing incumbents who might want to run again, and laying the groundwork for party caucuses in late July that will determine the slates of candidates that do battle in the fall.

“This being a municipal year, obviously, we’re going to push people to come out,” said Republican Town Committee chairman Alex Karsanidi. “This is your opportunity to vote and have input as to who’s representing you …

“Like I have on my website: You can’t complain if you don’t vote,” Karsanidi added.

Democratic Town Chairman Tom Madden agreed participation is the key to a good electoral process.

“I really think that a lot of local government and lot of local party issues would be so much better if we had more people who were actively involved in it. The really interesting decisions get made earlier in the process, way before election day,” Madden said.

“It shouldn’t be just gravity or inertia that get you these jobs.”

The offices to be contested — and which parties are seeking candidates for — include six seats on the Board of Education, three seats on the Board of Finance, six on the Planning and Zoning Commission, three on the Police Commission, three Zoning Board of Appeals seats and two alternates, and two seats on the Board of Assessment Appeals.

Both parties’ leaders say they’re looking for candidates, eager for new faces, and committed to fielding strong slates.

“Probably two of the most influential boards from the standpoint of topics that are close to people’s hearts are the Board of Education and the Board of Finance, so we want to be sure our candidates — incumbents and new people — are doing a good job, representing what townspeople are looking for,” Karsanidi, the Republican chairman said.

The Trump presidency may be changing the calculus a little, getting local Democrats fired up, Madden said.

“I think the world is changing,” he said. “... We get people turning up at our meetings, sitting in on our meetings — that never used to happen. People want to work on campaigns, and they want to register voters, and they want to register themselves.

“There’s a lot of things happening, but we don’t know yet whether it will translate into people wanting to run for municipal office,” Madden said. “I hope it does translate into that. Because if we want to change the world, we have to start someplace. We should start here.”

The caucuses

The state requires that the caucuses be held between July 18 and July 25.

Ridgefield Republicans are caucusing first, with a gathering planned for Thursday, July 20, starting at 7 p.m. in Town Hall’s large lower-level conference room.

Ridgefield Democrats will caucus on Monday, July 24, at 8 p.m., also downstairs in Town Hall in the large conference room.

At both caucuses, any member of the party can attend, vote, speak, make nominations.

While both town committees plan to put endorsed slates before their caucuses, regular party members attending the caucuses can nominate other candidates and elect them to the slate — all it takes is enough votes.

“Nothing says that you’ll have an endorsed slate nominated at the caucus,” said Karsanidi. “... In the past you’ve had people nominate from the floor, and actually they got votes.”

In addition to terms that are expiring after four years, the fall ballot will include contests for numerous offices where vacancies have been filled by appointment since the last election due to resignations.

“We’ve got a lot of vacancies,” Town Clerk Barbara Serfilippi said.

“Someone has replaced someone who had resigned,” she said. “... Their spot has to be filled, because their term only goes to the next election.”

Both Republicans and Democrats are looking for people interested in running — candidates must be Ridgefield residents who are registered to vote in town as members of the party whose endorsement they seek.

“Interviews will be held starting July 8 at convenient times,” said Karsanidi, the Republican chairman.

People interested in being considered by the Republican committee should email resumes to: alexsr@karsanidi.com or mail to RTC, P.O. Box 285, Ridgefield. Karsanidi said people with questions should call him at 438-6010.

“If you’re interested in running, and we don’t know about it yet, send us an email and we’ll be happy to talk to you,” said Madden, the Democratic chairman. The Democrats’ e-mail is: communications@ridgefielddems.org.