James Waters is a Greenwich native and resident, an Unaffiliated voter. He works at a private investment firm and served in the Bush Administration’s White House Office of Management and Budget and then as a US Navy SEAL officer.
In a dank basement in Cos Cob, thousands of MAGA lawn signs collect dust. The local party boss and a rabid cultist, usually on the same team, are unable to decide what to do. Do they put the signs out or keep them hidden from public view?
The mask-opposing cultist wants the signs out there, consequences be damned; he’d jump off a bridge should Dear Leader ask. The local boss does not, wringing his hands that they will hurt his candidates. They have a problem on their hands: if the MAGA signs come out, they’ll go on the same lawns as those currently littered with “Fazio”, “Fiorello”, “Coach Kelly”, and “Arora” signs. And that’s where they get scared.
Indeed, fear runs amok across the local GOP’s ruling class. This Halloween season, they worry an albatross at the top of the ballot could bring down their entire ticket. Greenwich used to reliably vote for Republicans, from the ballot’s top to its bottom. That changed in 2016, when MAGA got a weak 39% of the town’s vote. All signs point to MAGA doing even worse this year.
Since 2016, town residents delivered stunning rebukes to MAGA-friendly party elites in every election, save one. In the outlier last fall, local MAGA operatives ran a quiet but successful campaign to stack the town finance board and town legislature with far right ideologues – who proceeded to cut the school budget this spring and then ignore the massive outcry from town residents, including thousands of town Republicans.
The local party boss understands the peril of this recent history on this election. In an election where town residents will clearly hold MAGA accountable for its failures, he fears they will hold his state-level candidates accountable too. After all, he knows their skeletons demand accountability.
Ryan Fazio, a young state senator candidate with no tangible professional accomplishments, voted against our public schools. Despite attending our schools as a child, Fazio voted to cut the school budget for Greenwich children this spring. If you read Fazio’s writings over the years, this really wasn’t a surprise: his brand of politics, like his fellow GOP candidates, is more akin to Ted Cruz than to George Bush, inspired by niche ideology rather than common sense.
Kimberly Fiorello, a candidate for state representative who, in her words, “moved to Greenwich for Greenwich Academy”, also voted against public schools. Touting that she went to West Point but ignoring that she never served a day in the US Army (we wonder, “did she flunk out?”), Fiorello voted to cut the school budget for Greenwich children this spring. If you trace Fiorello’s political journey over the years, she can routinely be found the farthest fringe on every issue.
While surprising that such candidates have the audacity to ask for the public trust in Hartford – when voters can’t even trust them locally – more shocking is their deliberate attempts to silence voters. They knew residents overwhelmingly opposed the school cuts. And yet, on the same day that Fazio and
Fiorello voted to cut the school budget in the town legislature, they joined a small minority to thumb their nose at their own constituents and hide behind arcane parliamentary rules to silence debate.
The local boss knows what happens if voters realize every “Fazio”, “Fiorello”, “Coach Kelly”, and “Arora” sign means “MAGA”: they will demand accountability and his candidates are toast. If voters see the truth – that MAGA is intimately intertwined with local candidates – they will finally understand our local GOP political class strongly prefers fringe characters.
To further the ruse, the MAGA signs will likely remain hidden in the moldy basement. In this case, I’d (gulp) actually side with the cultist, if only in the name of transparency. Since I’m not holding my breath that we’ll get it, my message to voters is simple and clear.
Don’t be conned: no matter your political party or historic voting pattern, vote against the entire Republican ticket. The names are listed above. None will serve your interests and none deserve your support. The jig is up and it’s time for us to hold them accountable.
Editor’s note: this letter was submitted in advance of the Oct 26 12:00pm deadline for letters on the election and candidates on the Nov 3, 2020 ballot..