Submitted by Stella Hawkins, Former lifelong Republican (now unaffiliated) and local resident.
Nationally and locally, we have seen a Republican party in turmoil. In Greenwich, the local Republican Town Committee (RTC) has adopted a far-right agenda based around national talking points. Their refusal to participate in the time-honored League of Women Voters debate and their warm embrace of far right groups like Greenwich Patriots and Project Veritas speak volumes. Two of their local nominees for State Representative, Kimberly Fiorello and Peter Sherr reflect .this far-right political mindset.
Ms. Fiorello’s legislative record is troubling. Thus far, there have been plenty of “no votes”, but little in the way of accomplishment. Upon her election, Ms. Fiorello immediately joined the Conservative “Freedom” Caucus. Only a quarter of House Republicans (15 out of 54) have joined this group due to their far right leanings. They view non-members as RINO’s (Republicans In Name Only). Her decision relegates Ms. Fiorello to vote in the vast minority on .many bills out of fealty to this small cluster of far right Republicans.
Last November, Ms. Fiorello’s fellow Conservative Caucus ally Representative Anne Dauphinais made comments comparing Governor Lamont to Adolf Hitler. Ms. Fiorello, who shares an identical voting record with Ms. Dauphinais did not publicly condemn these comments. Soon after, when Ms. Dauphinais doubled down on her initial remarks, calling them a “badge of honor” Ms. Fiorello happily appeared with her on a radio show.
We have seen this tacit tolerance of insensitive and offensive remarks by far-right national Republicans as well. It is unacceptable, and in Ms. Fiorello’s case it further diminishes her moral standing and impairs her ability to work with colleagues in Hartford.
Mr. Sherr’s tenure on the Board of Education (BOE) was defined by his abrasive personality and inability to work well with colleagues of either political party. Just one year ago, he became the first Greenwich BOE member to be censured by the Board. His censure was the result of his having used vulgar and profane language (directed at the Board Chairman) during a public Board Meeting. It could have been avoided had Mr. Sherr simply apologized. He never did.
Two years ago, Mr. Sherr displayed poor judgement when he wrote an Op-Ed, attacking fellow BOE member Kathleen Stowe who was running for State Representative (against Ms. Fiorello). It was widely viewed as inappropriate and unseemly, considering Ms Stowe was a Board colleague of Mr. Sherr’s at the time. His letter further poisoned the well on the Board and the accusations he made in it were quickly rebutted as false in a follow up editorial by his fellow BOE colleagues.
Mr. Sherr’s track record shows he does not excel at solving problems but, rather he compounds them. After twelve years on the Board of Education, he left behind a trail of animosity, bullying and a revolving door of school superintendents.
Are these the kind of representatives Greenwich wants to send to Hartford to uphold, defend, and represent our shared values?
Among the most important traits of an effective legislator are the capacity to listen and persuade others to see your point of view. Ms. Fiorello and Mr. Sherr have not demonstrated these traits. Neither have a track record of developing the strong relationships with colleagues that are required in the legislature to foster trustworthy dialogue and good policy. In Hartford, majority Democrats will tune them out and fellow Republicans will quickly become exhausted and frustrated with their antics.
Ms. Fiorello is running in the 149th District and Mr. Sherr in the 151st. Not long ago, these districts were represented by Livvy Floren and Fred Camillo. Both of whom were extremely well respected and well liked. Livvy and Fred established real friendships on both sides of the aisle, and understood the value of listening to others, especially those who disagreed with them. This led to productive legislative outcomes, and earned the esteem of their colleagues and those they represented.
Livvy and Fred proved that being an effective legislator is forged in the hard work of compromise. However, unlike their predecessors, Ms. Fiorello and Mr. Sherr have a disturbing habit of taking pride in always being on the losing side of the ledger.
Their opponents, Rachel Khanna (149) and Hector Arzeno (151) are both moderate Democrats who support local zoning, pro-growth economic policies and common sense oriented approaches to government that will suit Greenwich well. They are both eminently better candidates that will serve Greenwich well, if elected.
Ms. Fiorello and Mr. Sherr are simply not reflective of mainstream Greenwich voters. Neither are suited for the legislature, and both relish in burning bridges, not building them.