"Basically the (Democratic) Party decided that they were going to try to change the leadership on the council," said David Watts, a member of the Democratic Town Committee. "These (absent) council members didn't do what they were elected to do. These five council members decided not to participate in the process. I think the citizens of Norwalk wanted bipartisanship. I think Mike Coffey and the rest of the council members were proven right."
Not present for the meeting were Democrats Gwenn Briggs, William M. Krummel, Matthew T. Miklave, Kevin M. Poruban and Douglas W. Sutton. None could be reached for comment afterward.
Watts said the five, during Democratic caucus before the meeting, put forward Briggs to succeed Hilliard as majority leader and Krummel to replace Coffey as president. Watts said Democratic Town Committee Chairwoman Galen Wells "most likely" pushed for the replacements.
Republicans on the council were not amused by the absence.
"There's a responsibility, if they are in the building, to exercise their responsibility that they were elected for. We should not have only 10 people here," Moccia said. "But that's their choice."
The five Democrats and five Republicans present unanimously reappointed Coffey president, Hilliard as majority leader, and appointed McQuaid to replace Hempstead as minority leader.
The upcoming municipal elections will present Norwalk voters with an opportunity to vote on whether Common Council members represent all residents or just their party town committee.
"I'd like to say a majority of us look past partisanship and are looking for progress. We've decided to close divides instead of create them, and we've looked to move forward in the best interests of all residents of Norwalk," Coffey said. "Many of us have cast aside partisanship."
Norwalk Hour, 5 Dems dodge Council vote in ongoing rift by Robert Koch 11/15/06