Greenwich RTC Officer Elections Result in Shakeup: New Board is Topped by Jerry Cincotta

After much anticipation, Wednesday night’s RTC meeting, held at the Arch Street Teen Center, resulted in new leadership.

The process was marked by tie votes, and revotes, but ultimately all five officers were replaced.

While repeated tie votes were met with some groans, the two hour process was punctuated by laughter, shouting, some name calling, booing and cheering.

Joe Montanaro sought to take over after Beth MacGillivray as chair, but in the end the RTC elected Jerry Cincotta as its new chair.

The vice chairs are Marc Ducret and Steve Warzoha.

Unopposed, Lauren Rabin was elected Treasurer and Pam Pagnani as Secretary respectively.

The State GOP brought in a parliamentarian and someone to run the elections from out of town, and they were repeatedly challenged on the process. But in the end candidates were nominated, given time for remarks, and roll call votes were taken.

Joe Montanaro, who had been serving as vice chair and running the party’s social media accounts, was nominated for chair. He lost to Jerry Cincotta, 36-29-1, with Karen Fassuliotis abstaining.

Mr. Cincotta was nominated by Ari Schuler from district 6, who described the party as fractured and feelings hurt.

“We’ve had some good outcomes and some bad,” he said. “With change brings opportunity.”

The nomination was seconded by Andy Duus who described Mr. Cincotta as a great listener who helped manage State Senator Ryan Fazio’s successful campaign.

From there, Tod Laudonia, former Greenwich tax collector, nominated Mr. Montanaro for chair, saying he’d been impressed with his hard work and high energy from day one.

He called for “solutions, not name calling.”

“Joe understands that the status quo won’t win elections any more,” Laudonia said. “He looks to be the unifier we need to bridge our intra-party differences, and work together to defeat the Democrats and their radical ideas and their tax and spend philosophy.”

From there, BET member David Alfano seconded Montanaro’s nomination.

After several minutes of back and forth between Michael Spilo and the people running the vote about rules, Mr. Cincotta shared his remarks to the gathered crowd.

“The last 10 minutes are indicative of things that cannot happen going forward,” he said. “I want to move forward. I want to get good people elected in Hartford. Let’s stop re-litigating the past.”

In his remarks, Mr. Montanaro said in the short time he had lived in town he’d learned that Cos Cob was the heart of town.

“Political jargon turns people off,” he said. “I’m not a lobbyist…I’m not looking for a job at town hall.”

“We’re on the right side of history,” he continued, adding that the media and the Democrats were the enemy and that he had the fortitude to stand up.

After a roll call vote, Mr. Cincotta defeated Mr. Montanaro. The vote was 36-29, with Karen Fassuliotis abstaining.

Mr. Cincotta shared some remarks after the vote, saying, “We can’t be at each other’s throats….For those of you who didn’t vote for me, I hope I can earn your trust.”

Outgoing chair Beth MacGillivray offered her “heartfelt congratulations” to Mr. Cincotta, who went up onto the elevated stage and sat in the chair she had been sitting in.

Former 30-year town clerk Carmella Budkins nominated Marc Ducret for vice chair. She noted he was a lifetime resident of Greenwich and had many ties to the community, including serving on the boards of the Old Greenwich Association, Old Timers Athletic Association, and Hill House. She noted Mr. Ducret had been a volunteer with the RTC for almost 20 years, serving as secretary for 4 years and vice chair for 8 years.

“Marc is well respected, with his calm demeanor will help move our party forward. He will work hard to re-elect Ryan Fazio and find great candidates who can turn the tide back in Hartford, which we all want.”

Allyson Cowin nominated Jane Sprung, noting she had served as RT chair in district 10 and was also on the RTM.

“She works hard. She’s smart..she’s been an incredible leader in district 10 and bridges the gap between very conservative and moderate,” Cowin said, going on to describe Ms Sprung as the consummate fundraiser who would rally the troops, help re-elect State Senator Fazio and “compromise when necessary.”

Hannah Earl nominated Steve Warzoha for vice chair, and joked that she hoped the new chair would last longer than Ronna McDaniel on NBC News.

She described Warzoha as a “logistical campaign wizard” and “our happiest warrior.”

When it looked like there would be four nominations, Warzoha’s nomination was withdrawn in order to have two separate vice chair elections.

In the Ducret vs Sprung match up, there was a tie vote, followed by each candidate speaking for a minute. After a second roll call vote, Gideon Fountain voted for Mr. Ducret which tipped the scale in his favor.

Andrea Blume seconded the nomination of Mr. Warzoha for second vice chair, describing him as pragmatic and guided by conservative principles.

Henry Orphys nominated Mr. Montanaro for second vice president, saying the party had been “moribund when it came to social media and other areas.”

The nomination was seconded by Tim Busler, who suggested having Montanaro retain a leadership position “in the spirit of working together.”

“Let’s not alienate too many people here,” Busler suggested.

After a tie vote between Montanaro and Warzoha, they were each given a chance to share remarks.

Warzoha said to him the job of vice chair meant “doing everything you can” to support candidates’ campaigns. He added that he had run numerous campaigns in the past.

“We, as Republicans, if united, can never fail,” he said, adding that if elected he would be “ready tomorrow to roll up my sleeves.”

Mr. Montanaro talked about the people he had met when door-knocking, recollecting how they had been fed up, but had become energized.

“I’m not a press box commentator. I don’t like sitting up there drinking fancy wine while everybody else has boots on the ground. I’m a front lines kind of guy,” he said. “We made a point of going to neighborhoods and knocking on the blocks of homes where  Republicans for decades had ignored. These are salt-of-the-earth people, and must be heard from and engaged with. They are fed up with prior Republican leadership over the past decade. They’ve been ignored, rejected and disenchanted. They are now engaged, thanks to the leadership in the last year and a half.”

He said an “unaffiliated middle” came out to vote last November “thanks to a message system, social media presence, newsletter, and coffee and civics lessons to the public, not to mention over 100 new RTM candidates.”

“Unfortunately they were ruthlessly attacked and called extremists by some people in this room, including the former RTC chair from two years ago,” he said, pointing to Dan Quigley. “You know who defended those people? I did. We did. Nobody else in this room stepped up. Ryan Fazio didn’t. Jerry Cincotta didn’t.”

The last remarks were loudly booed.

“Talk about goals. Drive Republican participation – we have done that. Support spending oversight and fiscal responsibility – we have done that, and we got pushback again by some people in this room including the former BOE chair…”

From there, Joe Kelly shouted, “All you are going to do is divide us!”

“We have to stop Hartford overreach, including 8-30g. We are the only party on a genuine message including transparency and accountability for our elected officials. Perhaps that is why they are coming for us so hard,” Montanaro said to loud cheers.

Then Mr. Montanaro lost  for a second time Wednesday night.

The vote was 35-31 in favor of Mr. Warzoha for second vice chair.

Lauren Rabin and Pam Pagnani were nominated for Treasurer and Secretary respectively. They were unopposed.