To the Editor:

It was not a good election year for New Milford's Democrats.

The losses by incumbent John Lillis of his Town Council seat, incumbent Shelly Pruss' loss of his Board of Finance seat, incumbent Janice Vance's loss of her zoning seat and Larry Stillman's loss of his bid for a Board of Education seat have far-ranging implications for the town's Democratic Party.

Mr. Lillis, also the Democratic Town Committee (DTC) chairman, got more votes than the other Democratic council candidates on the Democratic line but lost because others got votes on the New Milford First line and these were added to their final counts.

Mr. Pruss, a devoted Democrat and former mayoral candidate, has served the town for many years in various capacities, including the Town Council, and his name was on the NMF ballot.

Dr. Stillman, also a former Democratic mayoral candidate, has served on the Board of Ed and his name was also on the NMF ballot. Despite this history, he failed to get more votes than two newcomers.

Ms. Vance was also on the NMF ballot.

Say what you may about candidates running on more than one party line -- I think it is wrong -- it is clear, despite New Milford First's failure to get one of its people elected and that being on its line was the kiss of death for others, the party may now be able to achieve an unintended goal: the takeover of the town's Democratic Party.

Think about it.

Who are the DTC's two major players? John Lillis and former Mayor Liba Furhman.

I credit Mrs. Furhman for arguably knowing more about how to play the political game than anyone else in town [but], with Mrs. Furhman distracted by her non-political work, and [with] Mr. Lillis being discouraged by his recent loss, who of the real Democrats is left to waive the party's flag?

So what will happen? Who will fill the void?

My guess is that it will be filled with the likes of New Milford First members. I predict New Milford First will close its shop if its members successfully step into the DTC.

The message for the DTC is simple. If you want to continue to lose, continue to allow your candidates' names to appear on the New Milford First ballot; you can't run as a team if your team players are on another team. If you allow this, you will be relegated to mediocrity for years to come.

Jay Lewin

New Milford