A Superior Court judge ordered Danbury election officials Thursday to remove a group of candidates from the city’s Independent Party ballot line in a case involving two competing slates of candidates vying for the minor party’s cross endorsement.
The lawsuit, brought by Democratic mayoral candidate Roberto Alves, contends that Danbury Town Clerk Janice Giegler illegally submitted to state officials a slate of Independent Party candidates — including herself and Republican Mayor Dean Esposito — and ignored a separate slate of candidates approved by the third party at an earlier caucus meeting.
In a brief order Thursday, Danbury Superior Court Judge Maximino Medina Jr. granted a motion from Alves’ attorney asking for the Republican candidates to be struck from the Independent line on ballots for the coming general election.
“Defendant Town Clerk Janice Giegler is hereby ordered to remove from the November 7, 2023 ballot those names submitted by her on September 18, 2023 to the Office of the Secretary of the State consisting of candidates on the line assigned to the Independent Party of Danbury,” Medina wrote, adding that he would issue a full decision on the matter next week.
The case stems from the results of two separate caucus meetings by the Independent Party of Danbury.
In one meeting, held on Aug. 11, the attending party members elected a caucus chair for the nominating session, Justin Chan, and proceeded to nominate a slate of candidates including Alves, the Democrat running for mayor.
At the second meeting, held on Aug. 21 and overseen by Independent Party of Danbury Chair Veasna Rouen, attending members selected a different slate of candidates including Esposito, who is running for re-election and Giegler, the Republican town clerk.
Both groups submitted their nominations to Giegler, who, according to Alves’ attorney, broke the law by filing the second list with the Secretary of the State’s Office to appear on the November ballots.
“[D]efendant Giegler unilaterally and unlawfully made a ruling declaring that the list of candidates comprising Slate 2, including herself and defendant Esposito, were the proper nominees of the Independent Party,” Christopher Mattei, Alves’ lawyer, wrote in the complaint.
In court documents, Giegler’s attorney, Proloy K. Das, argued that the first slate of candidates were deemed invalid by Rouen, the Danbury Independent Party Chair, which left Giegler no option but to submit the second slate of candidates.
“[W]hen the Chairman of the Independent Party specifically informed her office that any other slate had been formally vetoed in accordance with the party’s rules, the Town Clerk was faced with only one valid set of endorsements,” Das wrote. “It would have been improper for her not to submit the names of the properly endorsed candidates under these circumstances.”
Following Thursday’s ruling by the judge, Das filed paperwork to appeal the decision to the state Supreme Court. In a statement Friday, Das said the town clerk had faithfully executed her duties when she submitted the candidate slate.
“We are confident that the Connecticut Supreme Court will agree and are requesting an expedited review of the trial judge’s decision,” Das said.
Alves, meanwhile, issued a statement praising the Superior Court judge’s decision and urging the quick printing of updated ballots.
“The Judge got it right,” Alves said. “I may be the plaintiff but I’m not the real winner today – that honor belongs to every voter in Danbury.”