By SHERIDAN CYR
Two weeks ago, eight Republicans resigned from the Southington Republican Town Committee, citing disagreements with the new 2018-2020 slate, which introduced 23 new members to the SRTC and excluded some veteran members. This week, two more members resigned from the committee.
Robert Hammersley and Jennifer Clock from the Planning and Zoning committee followed suit with the eight members who resigned: Board of Education current members Brian Goralski, Patricia Queen, Colleen Clark, Joe Baczewski, Terri Carmody, past BOE member Juanita Champagne, and former Town Councilors Paul Champagne and Ed Pocock III.
“My resignation stems from the exclusion of some members of Southington’s elected delegation,” said Hammersley in an email sent to SRTC Chair Steve Kalkowski and local publications. He specifically cited displeasure with the exclusion of Clock to the elected SRTC slate.
“[Clock] is dedicated, intelligent and a hard-working elected official. Her exclusion, along with Erika Pocock, elected to the Board of Water Commissioners and current vice president, simply baffles me,” Hammersley said in the email. “In an era where we should be encouraging an expansion of female party involvement, this action by the SRTC is an unfortunate and, frankly, a tone-deaf misstep by the organization.”
The SRTC has a slate of 75 full time members, and 76 associate members. The slate is up for election every two years.
Clock cited displeasure with the leadership on the committee and said members were well aware of her discontent. She believed this became a reason for her removal of her position on the open space committee, which she said was an important PZC appointment and a position she has served in for the last two years.
“Shame on all of you for putting your own personal agenda before what is best for our town,” Clock said in an email response to Kalkowski. “I will continue to do what is best for this town as I always have, and in the meantime I hope that the SRTC moves in a positive direction.”
Kalkowski, the current SRTC chair, has been fielding the resignations. He took on this new role in December, although the resignations state reasons that have stemmed from the last several years.
“I have the utmost respect and appreciation for those who serve our town in any capacity. I want to make it very clear that I hold both Jen and Erika in high regard and they have and continue to serve our citizens well,” Kalkowski said in an email response to Hammersley. “The exclusion of Jen and Erika on the 2018-2020 SRTC slate had absolutely nothing to do with gender, and to be honest, I find it reprehensible that you would make such a reckless accusation.”
Kalkowski reiterated to Clock and Hammersley that the SRTC seeks members who will be actively involved and contribute during their monthly meetings, participate or run fundraising events, support the Republican platform and support all elected and appointed officials.
“We felt that it was important that folks who have been actively contributing and waiting for up to two years to become full members deserve a chance to be endorsed as full members,” Kalkowski said. “I will tell you and all Republicans directly that I am not here to continue the previous agenda that led to a very visible split amongst our party leaders leading up to the 2017 election. The behavior and undermining by some of our members that took place was reprehensible.”
To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Sheridan Cyr, email her at SCyr@SouthingtonObserver.com.