Sunday, October 30, 2005

Municpal Elections: New London

Eminent domain is making New London one of this year's most interesting municipal elections.

New London

Town Statistics
  • Population: 26,201

  • Registered Voters: n/a

  • U.S. Congressional District: 2 (Rep. Rob Simmons-R)

  • State Senate District: 20 (Sen. Andrea Stillman-D)

  • State House Districts: 39 (Rep. Ernest Hewett-D); 40 (Rep. Ted Moukawsher-D)

  • 2004 Presidential Vote:
        John Kerry: 5,984
        George W. Bush: 2,381

  • 2004 Congressional Vote:
        Jim Sullivan (D): 4,220
        Rob Simmons (R): 3,210

  • Form of government: Council/manager

  • Town Council: Controlled by Democrats 5-2

  • Mayor: Jane Glover (D)


The Kelo v. New London Supreme Court decision upholding the right of governments to use eminent domain for private development has touched off a firestorm of protest and controversy all over the country, not least in New London itself.

The past two months have seen the city council try desperately to take back some of the power it invested in the New London Development Corporation (NLDC). First, the council blocked the final eviction of Fort Trumbull residents, then held a vote of no-confidence in the leadership and the organization, pushing the NLDC to the brink of extinction (only to be rescued by the state). Will it be enough to save their political careers?

In 2001, following the first wave of disgust with the NLDC and the Fort Trumbull situation, most of the city council members who voted for the project were turned out by voters. The current city council, whose mayor, Jane Glover (D), was one of only two pro-NLDC council members who survived 2001, must fear that the same will happen this year.

In fact, things may be much worse for New London’s incumbents this year than they were in 2001. Opposition is coming not only from Republicans, but from a surprisingly competitive Green Party and a conglomeration of interests called the One New London Party. Eminent domain and Fort Trumbull form the center of opposition campaigns, especially considering that several of One New London’s candidates have lost their homes to the NLDC.

Here’s who’s running (* = incumbent):


Jane Glover (mayor)*
Kevin Cavanaugh
Elizabeth Sabilia*
Bill Morse*
Margaret M. Curtin*
Gerard Gaynor Jr*
Elizabeth Garcia Gonzalez


Robert Pero*
L. Allyn de Vars
Jason Catala*
Mike Doyle
Kathryn L. Schargus


Andrew Derr
Robert W. Stuller

One New London

Charles W. Frink
Michael Christofaro
Thomas J. Picinich
William Cornish
Richard L. Humphreville

The Day, New London’s daily newspaper, has endorsed change on the council, backing Frink (ONL), Derr(G), Pero(R), de Vars(R), Cavanagh(D), Glover(D) and Sabilia(D). Other groups, such as Free New London, have endorsed their own slates.


If there is a place in Connecticut where third party candidates will succeed this year, New London is it. Third parties do well when voter discontent is high, and the third parties in New London this year have turned themselves into a viable opposition. The real questions are whether the city council’s Democratic majority has distanced itself enough from the NLDC to survive, and whether voter anger is so high that it doesn’t matter.

New London has a seven-member city council which elects the mayor. There’s a very good chance that Republicans and the third parties will capture four or even five of those seats and form an anti-NLDC coalition government, probably with one of the Republicans serving as mayor (depending on the party makeup of the coalition).

The New London election is very much a referendum on Kelo by voters who live at the center of the controversy. Expect them to reject it.

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