OAKVILLE — The Watertown- Oakville Democratic Town Committee held a caucus and regularly scheduled meeting at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, January 7.
The caucus reviewed the current recorded membership list of the Democratic Town Committee and discussed whether some members should be removed or kept depending on their involvement.
The second part of the caucus was nominations to the DTC. The committee voted on the acceptance of the members and will vote on the approval of the nominations at the next meeting.
The committee nominated Jeffrey Desmarais to be permanent chair of the caucus.
Mr. Desmarais read each member’s name and allowed the committee to discuss the member to decide whether to keep or remove them.
Most of the names were accepted without discussion, except one member who, according to several committee members, had association with the Independent Party.
This led to a review about Democratic members and their affiliations and associations with other political parties and coinciding meetings.
Many members of the committee believed that if members decide to be a part of the Democratic Party, they must keep their sole alliance, and not attend meetings of other political parties.
Others at the meeting felt that if they pledge to be a Democrat and invest their time, voice and finances, they should be allowed to attend meetings with other political parties.
Treasurer of the committee, Robert Piazzaroli asked if there was anything in the committee bylaws regarding Democratic members attending other political party meetings.
Mr. Piazzaroli said that if there was not, it may be beneficial to add something upon a decision from the committee regarding the issue.
The committee decided to remove two members from the membership list due to lack of attendance and participation. They will send letters to the removed members and they may reach out to the town committee regarding their removal.
The second part of the caucus discussed committee nominations. One member asked to be nominated.
Some members were against his membership because of his association with the Independent Party. The caucus decided to move the decision to further discussion at the next meeting.
The nomination will be reviewed and decided at the next meeting without the nominee and with committee members only.
The regularly scheduled meeting discussed updates within the community.
The committee discussed Robert Scannell, who resigned as town manager, effective Friday, January 3. Susan Zappone, assistant town manager and finance director, is the acting town manager.
The committee said that the town is currently looking for a new town manager while Ms. Zappone serves in the interim.
Mr. Desmarais also serves on the Town Charter Revision Commission and explained to the committee that the charter commission is exploring the option of having a chief executive in town, whether that be a mayor or a group of selectmen. The commission is reviewing information feedback from several town departments.
Democratic Town Committee member Carl Mancini said that he would like to see money go toward supporting senior citizens in town who need financial help. He suggested freezing taxes on their homes. He asked the committee to consider this idea and to discuss it with other political parties.
A member from the Inland Wetlands and Watercourses Commission said that other than a few applications regarding cottages that a resident is looking to remodel into a house and its impact on the wetlands, there were no new updates.
A member from the Board of Education said that a new assistant principal was hired for John Trumbull Primary School. The member also spoke about solar panels possibly being added to other schools in town.
A member from the Zoning Board of Appeals said there have been no applications. A Public Buildings Committee member said that they need more money for the ongoing projects.
Sabra Lorusso, a member of Parks and Recreation, said that the Parks and Recreation Commission approved a Food Truck Festival at Crestbrook Park Golf Course. She said that the Youth Scholarship program subcommittee has a meeting scheduled for the scholarship and tournament dedicated to Tyler Palmer, a resident who passed away last year.
Ms. Lorusso said that the dog park is approximately $15,000 away from being completed. Democratic Town Committee member Cheryl Albino suggested creating a GoFundMe, if one was not already established.
Ms. Albino said that it may help with funds for the dog park. Mr. Desmarais also suggested putting the proposed GoFundMe on the town Facebook page.
A member of the Economic Development Commission discussed working on items including using Facebook to network with companies in the area to track business. A letter is being sent to the Planning and Zoning Commission about an open-air rubbish concept which some members of the town are against because it may affect the town’s aesthetic.
There was no update from the commission on aging except that the senior citizens are getting a new minibus.
Ms. Albino made a statement that she recommends that during campaigning, DTC members should not be at the poll by themselves. She said she was alone and harassed by several people throughout the day. She said that some community members helped her, but no one from the Democratic Town Committee checked on her throughout the day.
“I was scared,” she said. “I had no support, no help and no one checked in on me.”
Mr. Desmarais agreed that for safety and support, candidates should not be alone.
The committee said that although there were controversial discussions at the meeting, they were necessary, and they agreed that they need to build more comradery and support for each other.
This led to a discussion about creating a platform subcommittee which would create a distinct platform for the DTC.
Mr. Desmarais said that the goal of this committee would be to make the town better. He would like to see the subcommittee address issues affecting the town and form plans to address those issues. The committee approved the subcommittee.
The next meeting will discuss the subcommittee meeting further and elect members as well as include a discussion with only committee members regarding new memberships.