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Letter to the Editor: Selectman Candidates … The behind-the-scene mechanics of slate selection

The views stated here are those of the individual contributor and do not necessarily reflect those of the staff of

Do you know why Melissa Schlag is getting an automatic seat on the Haddam Board of Selectmen?

Here is how the politics worked. At their caucus on July 18 Democrats chose their slate of candidates for the November election. Two people were chosen for the position of Selectman, Sean Donlan and Melissa Schlag. On August 22 Mr. Donlan removed his name from the ballot which then created a vacancy.

The Democrat candidate for First Selectman, Sean Moriarty, was at the time, chairman of the nominating committee for the Haddam Democrats. Even though there was a long-time, well respected Democrat, Wayne Rutty, who wanted to run for the vacated seat, Mr. Moriarty refused to convene a meeting to replace that position. That action, guaranteed Ms. Schlag an undisputed seat on the Board of Selectmen.

Since Mr. Moriarty worked so hard to create an uncontested seat on the BOS for Ms. Schlag, one must wonder, if elected to be Haddam’s next First Selectman, will Mr. Moriarty be his own person?

Obviously, Larry Maggi is also getting an undisputed seat on the BOS … so what is the difference? At their caucus Republicans had only one candidate, Sam Crum, who wanted to run for the Selectman seat. When Mr. Crum unexpectedly resigned (on August 2) and no other Republican candidate could be found, Mr. Maggi, who is registered as an unaffiliated voter, was asked if he would like to run under the Republican banner and he agreed.

The outcome may be the same but the process and therefore intent was different.

Craig Salonia, 10/11/17

6 Responses to Letter to the Editor: Selectman Candidates … The behind-the-scene mechanics of slate selection

  1. Sean Moriarty

    October 11, 2017 at 1:22 pm

    The Vice Chairman of the HDTC will be addressing the inaccuracies of this letter but I want to assure the voters of Haddam of one thing; I will not be controlled by anyone. While Melissa Schlag and I are a team it is my responsibility to set the tone and agenda of my administration, the buck will always stop with me. We agree on a lot of issues but not all. This is why I have said that I expect a discussion by ALL the members of the Board Of Selectmen on the the crucial issues that face Haddam. I will not tolerate a rubber-stamp board, that is not what the people we represent deserve. If you have any questions about me or my candidacy please go to where you will find my contact information. I will be happy to speak with anyone in person.

  2. Ralph L. Livieri

    October 11, 2017 at 8:38 pm

    I am the vice chairman of the HDTC, and was a member of the HDTC’s nominating committee, and I am writing in response to Craig Salonia’s letter of 10/11/17.

    Ahh, where to begin?

    Mr. Salonia is a member of the HRTC, so he MUST know the procedures for nominating candidates, and how nominating committees work in Connecticut. However, he completely misstates these procedures in his letter. Allow me to lay out the process as provided in the Connecticut statutes:

    A town committee chooses a nominating committee, which may then choose a chairman.

    The nominating committee meets with, discusses, and selects candidates for the entire slate of openings.

    The nominating committee presents the slate to the town committee at their meeting before the convention.

    Any party member in town can vote at their party’s convention, and the meeting date is published in the newspaper ahead of time to provide legal notice.

    The convention of party members then votes on all candidates, including those chosen by the town committee, or other candidates selected from the floor.

    There were no motions or nominations from the floor at the Haddam Democratic convention, and Mr. Rutty was not present. Sean Donlan, the incumbent Selectman, and Melissa Schlag, the former First Selectman, were chosen unanimously.

    At this point, the nominating committee’s duties were complete. Finished. Done.

    After the convention, Sean Moriarty, or the entire nominating committee for that matter, have NO legal authority per state statute to present new candidates; at that point the Democrats of the town had spoken. No one person, not Mr. Moriarty, not Ms. Schlag, not Mr. Rutty, is more important than the whole.

    Subsequently, when Mr. Donlan chose to step aside, the HDTC in turn chose not to replace him, just as the Republicans chose not to have a third Selectman candidate on their slate. We understand that Mr. Rutty was disappointed that he was not chosen, but there was virtually no support among the HDTC for adding him as a candidate for Selectman.

    One wonders why the HRTC is so concerned, one might even say obsessed, with how we choose our candidates, given they’ve been so spectacularly unsuccessful at fielding a full slate of their own. People in glass houses really shouldn’t throw stones. Perhaps they would be happier if we asked for their approval of our candidates beforehand next time.

    Finally, anyone who has ever met Sean Moriarty, with his forceful, outgoing personality, or has ever read anything he has ever written, will find the suggestion that he would not be his own man simply laughable.

  3. Edward Munster

    October 12, 2017 at 9:13 am

    Mr. Moriarty and Mr. Livieri in their long-winded discussion are avoiding the central question of why the Haddam Democrats chose not to replace Sean Donlan when he resigned from their ticket. They had a candidate who would like to have filled the slot. He was a long-time, very electable Democrat who had served as Chairman of Haddam’s Board of Finance. Could it be that they did not want to give the voters an opportunity to vote for someone who could beat Melissa Schlag in the race for the third seat on the Board of Selectmen?

  4. Ralph L. Livieri

    October 12, 2017 at 7:38 pm

    For the sake of Mr. Munster’s short attention span, I will be concise. At the HDTC meeting following Mr. Donlan’s announcement that he did not want to run, there was an opportunity for ANY member of the committee to make a motion to replace Mr. Donlan with Mr. Rutty on the ballot. No such motion was made; therefore, there was no support for Mr. Rutty’s request to be placed on the ballot. It actually appears that the only support Mr. Rutty had, or has now, is from the Haddam Republican Town Committee, since Mr. Salonia and Mr. Munster are both members. Again, we appreciate the HRTC’s suggestions as to who we should endorse, and we will take that into consideration for the next time.

    The REAL central question is why are the Haddam Republicans so obsessed with who we’ve chosen as our candidates, when they have failed so miserably themselves at attracting their own candidates, especially with regard to the Board of Education, for which they have NO candidates, and which is responsible for more than 75% of the total town budget.

  5. William Nichols

    October 17, 2017 at 11:21 am

    The real question is why is one party worried about what the other party is doing when everyone involved who is running should be worried about winning the election and conducting the BUSINESS of the RESIDENTS of Haddam, nothing more or nothing less. The level of politics in Haddam has dropped to the level of children on a playground fighting over the only toy in the sandbox. You ALL make a wonderful case for term limits at ALL levels of government and you ALL need to grow up! Enough with the he said she said baloney.

  6. Sharon Challenger

    October 19, 2017 at 12:19 am

    Mr Munster has a valid point. What did the Democrats have to loose by having Mr. Rutty in the mix? What is wrong with giving voters a choice when one is available? By limiting the selection, it makes it look like the “fix is in” and I have heard that many Haddam voters are not comfortable with this decision. Giving voters a choice is always the best option, and not doing so is reckless.

    It is another matter altogether when a party does not have candidates to fill a position, so, in all fairness,you cannot compare the two situations.

    As to the lack of people running for office, might I suggest people start working together rather than against one another? The constant fighting between people frightens off a lot of good people which is a real shame.

    There is a lot of work to be done and it will take time, patience, and an atmosphere of cooperation. What other choice do we have? We want Haddam to be a great community right? So let’s get moving!