Who is the bully? And, are RTM contests pitting men against women?

Chris von Keyserling outside Stamford Superior Court

Greenwich’s municipal election is about a week away. To a degree, the race for Representative Town Meeting (RTM) may be pitting men against women.

In contests for seats on the 230-member group, several districts have more candidates than slots because dozens of women petitioned their way onto the ballot.

Co-founder of March On Greenwich, Karen Giannuzzi, said that after returning from the January Women’s March in DC, many Greenwich women reacted publicly to the arrest of RTM district 8 Chris von Keysering for Sexual Assault.

According to his arrest warrant, von Keyserling said to his victim, a 57-year-old woman employed by the town-owned Nathaniel Witherell nursing home, “I love this new world. I no longer have to be politically correct,” before pinching her in the groin. The People of the State of CT vs Chris Von Keyserling will go to a jury trial, though a date has yet to be set.

Mr. von Keyserling declined to step down (though he temporarily yielded his position as chair). The Board of Selectmen issued a statement on Jan 20 that they were troubled by the allegations surrounding the arrest.

“The reputation of the Town of Greenwich has been sullied as a result of the admitted actions of Mr. von Keyserling,” the statement said. “It is imperative that our employees feel secure and protected at all times. We do not wish to allow a perception to be created that this behavior is acceptable.”

Mr. von Keyserling has served 16 terms on RTM. He is running for a 17th term.

At a winter RTM meeting, March On leaders were not allowed to read a short **statement denouncing von Keyserling’s behavior.

They decided to learn more about the elected 230-member group. They found out that the elections are seldom competitive. In fact, there aren’t always enough candidates as there are the slots. Members’ contact information includes PO Box numbers,  and, rather than town issued email addresses, they use personal or work email addresses – or no email at all.

Ms. Giannuzzi said the women were surprised to learn that many RTM members are over 65 and the group is dominated by men.

Members of March On Greenwich at the YWCA on Sept 18, 2017. All but two photographed are candidates for RTM this fall. Photo: Leslie Yager

Some of the members of March On Greenwich at the YWCA on Sept 18. All but two photographed are candidates for RTM on Nov. 7, 2017 Photo: Leslie Yager

In the spring and summer, the non-partisan group recruited 40 to 50 RTM candidates, predominantly women, who successfully petitioned their way onto the Nov 7 ballot.

In Chris von Keyserling’s district #8, there are 37 candidates for 26 slots.

This week, the League of Women Voters published candidate biographies.

RTM candidates were asked for three important issues facing Greenwich.

Mr. von Keyserling responded generously with five issues.

He said an issue facing Greenwich is, “provision of public debate without the fanatical bullying and character assassination of public volunteers in the media.”

Also, writing on the upcoming contests for RTM is blogger Chris Fountain who wrote a post urging his readers not to vote for any women petition candidates, calling them a “coven of shrieking banshees.”

Rather than March On Greenwich, Fountain wrote that the women RTM candidates were recruited by Indivisible Greenwich.

He said the women are running in an “attempt to convert the RTM into a forum for whackos to shriek their disapproval of conservatives.”

“So we can expect to see up to 50 angry women, all suffering from Trump Derangement Syndrome, invading our local town meeting, demanding, what? A sanctuary city? Resolutions demanding the impeachment of Trump? Gun control? Rent control? The possibilities are endless,” Fountain wrote, adding, “…Locally, more pools in Byram, more efforts to spread the wealth of Greenwich earners to the non-earners? I’d say yes.”

The mention of pools in Byram may be a reference to the Junior League of Greenwich’s Byram Park pool project, which is on time and on budget for opening next summer.

Fountain has recently written negative comments about the Jr. League President, as well as several women in Greenwich, including the editor of this news site, after she asked his blog host to remove her copyrighted photos from his post.

“…she’s trying to get my own site shut down,” he wrote. “That’s not going to happen, girl, but I appreciate your dedication to stifling voices you disagree with — you’re a living, breathing example of the intolerance and fascist tendencies of your crowd.”

But, back to Mr. von Keyserling, his 16 terms on RTM and his behavior toward women.

Long before he was arrested for sexual assault, von Keyserling was the inspiration for an RTM Decorum Report.  RTM Decorum Comm Rpt final

The special committee on decorum was comprised of J. Robert Tuthill, Robert Brady and Joan Caldwell, who spent an entire summer investigating the stalled nomination of Susan Beekman to IWWA, and personal attacks on her by Christopher von Keyserling.

After an exhaustive, months long investigation, the committee’s recommendations included, “that the District #8 delegate to the Appointments Committee, Mr. von Keyserling, be reprimanded by the Moderator for his conduct toward the nominee by engaging in repeated instances of personal attack.”

With so many candidates for RTM, voters are afforded more choice than ever.

The best outcome of the RTM elections will be the result of voters studying the candidates in their districts and making educated decisions. Vote for the best men and women for the job.

RTM candidate bios, Q&A from the League of Women Voters:

RTM Guide_D1_LR RTM Guide_D2_LR RTM Guide_D3_LR RTM Guide_D4_LR RTM Guide_D5_LR RTM Guide_D6_LR RTM Guide_D7_LR RTM Guide_D8_LR RTM Guide_D9_LR RTM Guide_D10_LR RTM Guide_D11_LR RTM Guide_D12_LR

See also:

As Contentious Muni Election Races Loom in Greenwich, LWV Voter Guides Feature Candidate Bios

Greenwich Campaign Update: Everyone’s Talking; Some Are Clamming up

Before the Pinch that Got Him Arrested, von Keyserling was Subject of RTM Decorum Report

**March On Greenwich Launches Petition, Statement to RTM Denouncing District 8 Leader von Keyserling’s Behavior

Greenwich Campaign Update: Everyone’s Talking; Some Are Clamming up