SOUTHINGTON -Several influential members of the local GOP, including the entire Republican membership of the Board of Education, have resigned from the Republican Town Committee.
Their resignations came after an executive decision to remove several longtime members.
A resignation letter, addressed to Committee Chairman Steve Kalkowski, was recently signed by Brian Goralski, Colleen Clark, Terri Carmody, Joseph Baczewski, Patricia Queen, Ed Pocock III, Paul Champagne and Juanita Champage. It was penned following a decision made Monday at the Republican Town Committee meeting in which the executive members voted, with Goralski as the sole dissenting vote, to eliminate more than 20 members.
Goralski and Pocock were both upset with the meeting, which Pocock referred to as the committee’s version of “The Night of the Long Knives.”
“This was a purge of people who don’t agree with every position that the leadership holds - and as far as I can tell they weren’t even notified about it,” said Pocock. “Those removed weren’t completely in lockstep and so they didn’t want them serving on boards. I’ve been on this committee since 1971, I’m a past two-term chairman and that’s not why I got involved.”
Goralski said that the committee leadership removed a lot of people that he respected.
“These are people who I have been in the party with for the past 16 years,” he said. “If they are going to be removed then this is not a group that I want to be connected to anymore. I’ve only felt better about making this decision since Monday. I’m proud of my vote and I’m proud to be on this resignation letter. I voted no because of the lack of communication and because I think serving the community should be our first goal, not serving our own interests. This is not who we are. The fact that the entire Board of Education is with me should show something.”
Clark, a Board of Education member who had been re-elected six times said that the “exclusion” was “icing on the cake” after what she calls a climate of disrespect on the committee.
“If someone had an opinion that was different than the leadership it was treated as though it was laughable and your opinion was overlooked,” she said.
Champagne said that he felt his loyalties lay more with people who had been taken off the committee than the leadership.
“They took off active elected officials, some of whom have been involved for more than 20 years,” said Champagne. “Brian Goralski told me that he had no idea who was on the list until the time came to vote. They wanted people to just rubber stamp it without even looking at it.”
Victoria Triano said that she is “not a political person” and that she considers many of those who resigned to be her friends.
“That’s their decision - this is very painful for everybody,” she said. “I really didn’t know who or who wasn’t notified but the slate was presented for executive approval and it was almost unanimous, with Brian Goralski as the sole dissenting vote. There wasn’t a lot of discussion prior about anybody and this wasn’t a populist poll. It was presented as being an important vote for the reasons of keeping the party moving forward.”
Kalkowski could not be reached Friday for comment. Brian Callahan, former committee chair, said that he was traveling out of state at the time the letter was sent.
The resignation letter reads as follows:
“Dear Steve Kalkowski,
Please accept this letter as the formal resignation of the below signed individuals from the Southington Republican Town Committee March 2018-2020. Our resignation is the result of our ongoing displeasure with the direction and tone of this committee as well as the recent exclusion from the committee of long standing public servants in our town.
We value different views and opinions along with open and respectful communication. The actions and behaviors of the committee do not reflect our interests as we serve the Southington community in our current, former or future roles.”
Brian M. Johnson can be reached at 860-973-1806 or firstname.lastname@example.org.