The third party — established after the 2011 municipal elections — is staged to act as a more conservative-leaning challenge to the local Democratic Party for minority seats on the Board of Finance (BOF) and Board of Education (BOE).
State statutes in Connecticut allow only bare majorities on boards and commissions, meaning a single political party cannot hold more than four seats on Brookfield’s finance or education boards.
In the past, this has led to candidates who received less votes (in recent years, often Democrats) ultimately winning elections and being sworn in.
“A Brookfield Party is a new minority party,” ABP Chairman and BOF candidate Rob Gianazza said, explaining that the new party’s platform centers on a “conservative viewpoint on spending,” mostly with regard to large projects and long-term bonding.
“There are steps we can take to make Brookfield a better place without putting the bill on the next 10 administrations,” he said.
The new party cross-endorsed most of the Republican slate (except for the Board of Selectmen candidates), which includes Gianazza and two other registered ABP members who, if elected, would serve as minority members.
Along with Gianazza, Jeffrey Rossi is running for BOF and Gregory Beck for BOE.
Gianazza said he reached out to independent and Unaffiliated voters in town — such as Rossi — and even one former Democratic BOF member, however for the time being the endorsed candidates are registered or former Republicans.
“My hope is once the word is out that we’re open we get more independents,” Gianazza said. “But it happens that most people fall into one or two categories politically,” and many conservatives are affiliated with the GOP.
Local Democrats see the new party as an arm of the Republican Party designed to circumvent the ideas behind minority (and two-party) representation.
“The idea of a local election is to get the populace engaged,” Brookfield Democratic Town Committee Chairman Dan Smolnik said. “To set up a system to disenfranchise two-thirds of the electorate [Democrat and Unaffiliated registered voters]… disables a second point of view from being articulated.”
Smolnik said the DTC and local Democrats have been looking at the new political landscape ABP creates and, while asserting that they are not worried about their prospects in November, do worry about the potential loss of a strong opposition party.
“It’s turning generations of New England traditions on its head to lock out of the discussion an entire group of people in town,” he said. “Taking away the two party system — as cumbersome as it might be some days — is antithetical.”
Republican Town Committee Chairman and GOP candidate for Selectman Marty Flynn said he believes the introduction of another conservative party will actually lead to a better representation of the town’s political beliefs.
“This way we have the will of the voter respected — one person, one vote,” he said. “A lot of candidates were able to run but not serve, even though they got more votes.”
Democratic First Selectman candidate Howard Lasser said in an ideal situation there would be no parties at all — candidates would run on their ideas and positions and no other criteria.
However, “The current system is consistent with founding principles, that minority interests are important to protect and preserve,” he said. “The current system ensures that a monopoly does not prevail and lead to a potential abuse of authority, what [James] Madison referred to as the ‘tyranny of the majority,’ It is a form of checks and balances.”
Correction: ABP was established after the 2011 elections, not 2009 as originally written.