Vetting of Republican Candidates Questioned by Greenwich Democrats

There’s a saying that the internet is written in ink. Think of all the regrettable Tweets that are deleted but continue to circulate. Think of Wayback Machine which preserves random snapshots of entire websites.

Though there are only 2 openings for Republicans on the Board of Education, the Republican Town Committee’s nominating committee picked four candidates: Karen Kowalski, Wendy Vizzo Walsh, Adele Carroll and Rich Niemynski, who recently changed his Facebook settings to private. But his posts linger on.

Mr. Niemynski’s posts appeared to make fun of people who share their pronouns, transgender athletes, and gun safety advocates. One post features a photo of Michelle Obama reading to children, says, “Drag Queen Story Hour: How it all Began.”

Other posts were blurred out by Facebook and marked factually incorrect. In response he posted “corrupt natzi’s.”

Mr. Niemynski was nominated at the July 25 RTC meeting by his wife Kristen, who said, “He will uphold parental rights, protect women’s sports, keep boys out of the girls bathroom, stop the sexualization of children, and never use preferred pronouns.”

The internet is also a convenient repository of old arrests, court cases, government press releases and news stories.

RTC nominee for the Board of Estimate and Taxation, local accountant David Alfano, was nominated by the nominating committee chair, Joe Solari.

Because of the way the BET is set up, with six members of each party, Mr. Alfano is assured a spot on the board.

Mr. Solari noted that Alfano was a life-long resident of Greenwich.

“He’s a stalwart individual who believes in Republican principles, will fight for them on the BET and use his financial expertise, calm nature, congenial wisdom and way of being to make sure the BET works well together, for the party and for the Town of Greenwich.”

An online search turns up a story in Greenwich Time and a 2009 press release from the Attorney General’s website mentioning Mr. Alfano.

At the time, the CT Attorney General was Richard Blumenthal. When his office, which enforces state charity laws and oversees estates, challenged a sales option agreement in Greenwich Probate Court involving Mr. Alfano to sell the home of a deceased Greenwich woman at less than its fair market value.

“Probate Judge Daniel F. Caruso voided an agreement under which Mona Lee Johnson of Greenwich granted her neighbor Mark L. Lovallo and her long time accountant, David Alfano, an option to buy her home for $500,000 after her death. In fact, the home was estimated to be worth more than twice as much — about $1.2 million — when she died in 2005,” the release states.

Blumenthal noted that his office secured at least $300,000 more for charities named in the woman’s will, which included Perot Library, Greenwich Library and Cornell University Veterinarian School.

“In charity law, the donor’s wishes are paramount, and this extraordinarily generous donor sought to benefit charities, not these two men,” Blumenthal added. “This donor never wished to sell her home at a bargain basement price, less than half its estimated value at the time, significantly slashing proceeds to charities named in her will.”

“Ill and infirm — this woman supposedly signed papers while hospitalized and in the last month of her life — raising grave doubt the agreement reflected her true wishes.”

The issue of vetting has come up in a Greenwich election season back in 2013 with Marc Abrams’ 2014 nomination to challenge then Republican incumbent State Rep Livvy Floren in the 149th district.

It was just a month before the election, with debates having been held, when a pending lawsuit for sexual harassment against Abrams came to light.

Initially, Abrams characterized the lawsuit as frivolous, but pressure among Democrats mounted, all the way up to then Governor Dannel Malloy, and ultimately Abrams withdrew his General Assembly campaign.

This past week, DTC chair Joe Angland wrote to GFP to say the nominations of both Mr. Niemynski and Mr. Alfano were problematic.

“The RTC nominations of Mr. Alfano to the BET and Mr. Niemynski to the BOE makes one wonder what their vetting process is for their candidates,” Angland said.

“Mr. Niemynski’s public social media posts are offensive and should be disqualifying for someone wishing to serve on a school board. Worse is that he is now hiding those posts from public view.”

As for Mr. Alfano, Angland said, “If the action brought by the Attorney General was well-founded, Mr. Alfano’s mishandling of an elderly client’s finances makes him unsuited to handle the $480 million budget composed of Greenwich taxpayer dollars.” 

Asked about the RTC vetting process, Chair Beth MacGillavray replied replied, “Instead of focusing on the genuine achievements and contributions of upstanding individuals, these distractions can obscure the essence of a candidate’s potential to positively impact our community.”

MacGillavray said Mr. Alfano had a long standing reputation as a very successful CPA in Greenwich, and that spoke volumes about his commitment to his profession and the community he serves. 

“His history of family roots further underscores his dedication to the well-being of Greenwich.  It’s undeniable that his experience and contributions to the community make him an excellent candidate for our upcoming municipal elections.”

In the case of Richard Niemynski’s candidacy for the Board of Education, MacGillavray said it was “vital that we concentrate on, his commitment to preserving parental rights, prioritize academics in the classroom, and preserve the opportunities/competition for girls’ sports.”

MacGillavray said those values should form the basis of discussion and electing candidates who truly understand the importance of quality education for our youth.  

“In the midst of these distractions, it’s crucial for us to come together as a community and demand a return to meaningful dialogue.  We should insist on hearing about the candidates’ concrete plans for Greenwich, their qualifications, and their visions for a brighter future.  Our community deserves the opportunity to make well-informed decisions that resonate with our shared values.”

Neither Mr. Niemynski nor Mr. Alfano responded to email requests for comment.