Dems vote definitively 'for change'
The ball is now squarely in the court of New Milford Democrats for Change.
A modest turnout of Democrats in New Milford showed Tuesday they were ready for change by voting in primary for a slate of both new and familiar faces to form a new Democratic Town Committee.
Voter turnout was 14 percent of the more than 4,000 eligible Democrats.
Yet the message was clear that change was preferred as all 35 New Milford Democrats for Change candidates emerged as victors.
"I'm absolutely ecstatic over the results," said Andy Grossman, spokesman for New Milford Democrats for Change. "It shows that Democrats want to win elections, that they're not only tired of losing but tired of not even being competitive."
"Our congratulations goes out to John Lillis and Liba Furhman for a fine record of public service," Grossman said, in reference to the former DTC chairman and the former mayor, respectively, both of whom were voted off the DTC.
"They are loyal Democrats," he added, "who always did what they thought was in the best interest of the party."
Grossman's slate had won the party's January caucus by a vote of 83 to 62. However, Lillis and 23 others of his DTC challenged those results, leading to Tuesday's primary.
"I congratulate Andy and the rest of the people on that slate," Lillis said. "I wish them the best of luck."
"We were hoping through our advertising to present ourselves as individuals," he reflected, "people who have done much for their town and their party. In the end, people voted by slate. People voted for change."
Lillis said he and fellow members of his slate are "willing to continue working with the party."
That is something Grossman said New Milford Democrats for Change are hoping.
"In the end, we're all Democrats," Grossman said. "It is time now for the party to come together. We are hoping some of the people who lost the election Tuesday will return."
"We did not want to throw the baby out with the bath water," he said. "We just felt after 10 years of losing elections, it was time for a change."
Grossman added the new DTC will take a civic role in town as well: spearheading fundraisers for causes of those in need and speaking out on issues, such as Loaves & Fishes Hospitality House.
"We are going to be a party of total inclusion," Grossman said, "inviting and welcoming people to our meetings. We want to hear Democrats' ideas and opinions."
Top priorities for the new DTC, he said, will include raising money, finding a candidate to run for state representative, and reviving the party to contest every election.
See the related box for Tuesday's primary vote count.