Democratic party stalwart John Lillis was elected to a fifth consecutive term as chairman of the Democratic Town Committee this week after a firestorm of criticism from DTC member Larry Stillman.

Mr. Lillis remained chairman Monday night after defeating Dr. Peter Mullen, a three-term Town Council member, by a vote of 23 to 6.

But not before Mr. Stilman criticized party leadership by saying it was "lacking in any kind of innovation or spirit" as he supported Dr. Mullen's nomination.

Mr. Stillman pointed to three mayoral races in which the Democratic candidates "came forward on their own," adding that the party was without "a spokesman" with Mr. Lillis at the helm.

"The Democratic party has become the laughing stock in this town," Mr. Stillman said. "We need a new leader who can kick (behind), talk to the press and be a better spokesman for us."

But party stalwarts Liba Fuhrman and Lou White stood by Mr. Lillis.

"John was unfairly tainted at a recent caucus with the word of nepotism. It's not true," Mr. White said. "John is an honest, hard-working member of this party."

More Information

DTC executive committee Chairman: John Lillis Vice Chairman: Bob Coppola Treasurer: Liba Furhman Corresponding Secretary: Andy Grossman Recording Secretary: Mary Jane Lundgren

Mrs. Fuhrman agreed.

"John has a knowledge of the history of the issues," she said. "He has worked hard for this party in the town. He worked with the candidates last year but the candidates didn't work for themselves. To lay the outcome of the (2011) election at John's feet is not fair."

Jeff Winter, a 2011 candidate for mayor, had cited a lack of support from party leadership as the reason Democratic candidates took few seats on town boards and commissions. He dropped out of the race against Republican mayor Pat Murphy in August.

"Peter, I know you will, as I would, put this vote behind us and move ahead," Mr. Lillis said, addressing Dr. Mullen. "I can accept criticism and I can accept advice. Everybody has an opinion and I can listen to them."

Mr. Lillis vowed he would move the party forward, working to increase membership and the Democratic presence on town boards and commissions in 2014.

"I have a lot of enthusiasm," Mr. Lillis said. "Starting next month, we will form the Issues Committee and the Fundraising Committee. Two years from now, we will have $8,000 to spend on the election, not $2,000.

"We will work for one goal -- to elect Democrats to seats on the federal, state and local levels," he said.

Dr. Mullen accepted his defeat with aplomb, saying he would work in unity with Mr. Lillis.

"I support the Democratic party 100 percent," Dr. Mullen said. "I want to see us win in local elections. I want to see a Democratic state representative. I'm one of those people who is always looking to the future. I'm glad there was debate and discourse (Monday night). It was done in the best interest of the party."

Mr. Lillis will serve with Bob Coppola as vice chairman, Mrs. Fuhrman as treasurer; Andy Grossman as corresponding secretary and Mary Jane Lundgren as recording secretary.; 860-355-7322