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First Selectman’s Debate: First Reactions, Criticisms and Heckling

First Selectman Anthony “Unk” DaRos (D) and challenger Joy McConnell squared off to discuss government, economic development, education and civility in town politics.

Last night’s hosted by the pitted current against political novice .

Both had a chance to introduce themselves and then it was onward and forward with questions posed by media event sponsors Brian Boyd of Zip06.com/The Sound and Steve Mazzacane from the Branford Seven. The three major topics of discussion, which we will dive into late this week are economic development, education and civility in town government.

A question was posed at each candidate who had two minutes to answer; the opposing candidate could respond for two minutes and then the candidate whom the original questions was posed to, had another minute to rebut. For the most part, the candidates stayed on time and respected each other’s turn to speak; the crowd, however, was not so forgiving.

Following the heated debated where McConnell was continually heckled by former Branford RTM member of the Democrat camp, McConnell said, “The heckling was fine because it showed the difference between us. Our party wouldn’t behave like that.” Lambert is known for flipping resident Wayne Cooke the bird at RTM meeting earlier this year.

DaRos responded, stating that he thought the heckling was even. “Debates are debates,” he said. “It’s a distraction,” he said of the heckling, “when you are up there. One side may have been louder than the other but even.”

McConnell said of the questions asked, “I think they were fair. I would have liked to talk more about economic development,” she said. “People in our election – the economy is so much on their minds and driving decision making at the booth.” McConnell furthered her push for economic discussion releasing her this morning.

Debating McConnell, DaRos said, “It went alright, I guess. I heard what I did or didn’t do. I didn’t hear what she was going to do.”

Before the debate, Ali Abulugma, a Democrat running for the first time for the RTM in the 3rd District said he was looking forward to the debate to hear DaRos speak. “He a star,” he commented.

Of McConnell, he said, “I’ve never heard or seen anything about her. She is new but I am new too.”

Following the debate, Abulugma said of McConnell, “I think she talks from feeling, not from practical; from experience. She has a nice speaking tenant.”

In the Italian American Club, which swelled with more than 100 people – mostly politicians – it was hard to find citizens who attended the debate with little agenda. Eileen McGlynn and her husband Derek were two of the few attendees that came out on a whim to hear the debate. “I don’t know why I wanted to come,” said Eileen, “but I just had to come.” Laughing she said, “I wanted to see Wayne Cooke in action.”

Eileen was let down because though  was parked out front of the IA Club before, during and after the debate, the highly-charge and controversial citizen was not in attendance.

Eileen said she plans to vote republican but said she wanted to hear from McConnell more about what changes she was going to make.

The debate started with a moment of silence for former republican RTM member who passed away recently and then it was a near fist-to-cuffs for McConnell and a few democrats in the audience; the arguments between herself and DaRos were moderate.

Following the heated debate, in which McConnell could nary get a word in at times due to Lambert’s consistent interruptions, Lambert backed up her actions stating, “Well, I wonder where the republicans get their information because it doesn’t jive with what I know.”

Was she regretful for her consistent interruptions? Lambert laughed: “I am a 84-year-old mischief maker. I am also a descendent of an original settler and I was a government major at Smith College. I was also president of CT Now. Give me the right to do what I damn well please.” Lambert will not be seeking re-election for the RTM but will seek election as constable.

Stay with Branford Patch for more on the candidates’ talking points on economic development, education and civility in town government. 

Rob Sember October 19, 2011 at 03:52 PM
Wow!! Nice attitude Alice.
Lori Fogler Nicholson October 19, 2011 at 04:19 PM
Alice Lambert is unlike the great majority of people of her generation who believe that decorum and good manners matter. I've worked with hundreds of seniors over the years and the only time I ever heard someone behave like her was in a demetia unit. No, you don't have the right to disrupt a public debate because you have a bee in your bonnet or elsewhere. Zip it or stay home and watch it on BCTV.
Ray Ingraham October 19, 2011 at 04:52 PM
Mr Daro's must not have been present the heckling was not even and when done by people not on the Democratic team it was in response to the heckler, most of noise was instigated by Alice Lambert a candidate on the Democratic ticket and Moshi Gai a supporter. I find it amazing as Mr Daros was explaining how he was going to make town meetings more civil, making the case that Mr. Cooke was the reason that he and others have lost their cool in the past. So now no Mr. Cooke a debate that was to be civil turned to be not so civil. Mr. Daros's supporters could not sit still and listen to the discourse and control them selves. The proof is on the video soon to be aired on BCTV.org check it out for yourself. Then vote on November 8TH . Ray Ingraham RTC Chairman
Marc Riccio October 19, 2011 at 06:16 PM
The Democrats embarrassed themselves last evening. I actually felt sorry for some of my Democratic colleagues who had be associated with the Alice Lambert & Moshi Gai spectacle. The sad part is all the heckling and rude outbursts came from "Unk" supporters...Mr. DaRos never asked his followers to quiet down and respect the debate process. Hmmmm, sounds familar with the way the Town of Branford government meetings are run. TIME FOR A CHANGE. Vote Tuesday, November 8th.
carm October 20, 2011 at 12:34 AM
Wow. I never got involved in Branford politics...too busy looking at state and national candidates. This is an eye opener. Is this the way the elected Democrats in this town behave...for real? Da Ros feels no compunction to stop the heckling? When is it ever OK for elected representatives to heckle and prevent discourse? Two thoughts...Wayne Cooke garners more sympathy now, and Da Ros is has a tighter race than usual...or loses outright. Hope its the latter.
EFM October 20, 2011 at 01:04 PM
Lori, you are 100% right!
susan Barnes October 20, 2011 at 06:41 PM
It sounded to me like Unk was going to implement "Principal Walsh's Rules" should he be re-elected. Just another instance of stomping the First Amendment right to free speech that has become SOP for this group of Democrats. I wonder, should by some unfortunate circumstance Mr. Campbell get elected, would Principal Walsh's Rules now be called "Rules of Thumb"? HMMM. Ponder that, Moshe.

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