MIDDLETOWN, Conn. — Connecticut College Democrats held its annual elections Sunday, choosing two Yalies to its executive board amid heated debates.
At a convention at Wesleyan University, the CDCT, a coalition comprising the Yale Democrats, University of Connecticut Democrats, Connecticut College Democrats, Hartford University Democrats and Quinnipiac Democrats, met to elect its 2009-’10 board. Though the vote was stalled as officials clarified the specific bylaws of the CDCT constitution, Yale students won election to two of the five executive positions, the maximum number allotted to any one college.
Current Yale Dems Lobbying Coordinator Ben Stango ’11 won an uncontested election for president, and Dems member Frank Cirillo ’11 challenged a Wesleyan student to win for treasurer.
As the new president, Stango announced to the coalition that he intends to focus his one-year term on chapter development.
“What does that mean for you guys?” Stango asked the crowd of about 35 students. “It means creating PACs and distributing money, working on communication between groups, helping new chapters get in touch with advocacy groups in their regions and sharing ideas.”
The CDCT works to build chapters of college Democrats across the state, providing them with resources and financial support to make their initiatives more unified. Stango said he believes that by creating stronger individual chapters in colleges across Connecticut, the CDCT will have a more powerful statewide influence. This is imperative to achieve by 2010, because the CDCT must work to influence local elections, Stango added.
“I want to help other chapters make the transition from a purely organizational group that helps election campaigns to a group that also incorporates lobbying campaigns,” Stango said.
Stango said the CDCT should aspire to raise participation in phone banking and canvassing, especially for Sen. Chris Dodd’s race for re-election. Stango referenced the fact that at UConn this fall, students were prohibited from canvassing on campus, a decision Yale Dems President Sarah Turbow ’10 called “illegal.”
Cirillo was elected treasurer in a 4-2 vote. He announced his two-step solution to many of the problems CDCT chapters have faced. Expanding financial resources is imperative if chapters are to be expected to make a difference, he said.
Yale Dems Secretary Andrew Feldman ’11 ran for communications director in the final race. After Feldman gave a five-minute speech on his qualifications, presidents from other colleges opposed his nomination for the position, citing a then-widely unknown rule in the CDCT constitution that no college can have more than two members on the board. After several formal and informal caucuses held with the presidents, candidates and members voted to overrule Feldman’s candidacy.
State Reps. Gary Holder-Winfield, Mae Flexer and Matt Lesser attended the convention, each giving speeches about their personal view of progressive action at the college level. Holder-Winfield told attendees to avoid getting caught up in dirty politics, adding that college students play a more important role in affecting policy-making than actual elections.
Said Holder-Winfield: “Do good, do good, do good — or go home.”