Darien BOS divided on major issues, Campbell calls for cooperation
Campbell stated his frustrations with the partisan nature of the board while delivering his report. Campbell addressed an editorial written by a local newspaper last week calling the BOS "dysfunctional."
"I agree ... that we are hear to serve the people," Campbell said. "I'm very willing to work with the minority party if they have constructive ideas."
Campbell accused Callie Sullivan and David Bayne of "throwing sand" in his face. After Campbell finished his statement, Bayne asked to respond but Campbell refused; instead, he told Bayne to contact him by phone or stop by his office.
In a statement sent the Darien News after the meeting, Sullivan stated, "We all heard Dave Campbell's anger and frustration last night, and hope that venting was cathartic for him. I have been elected twice to this board, and have one mission: to represent and keep safe the people of Darien in the most fiscally prudent manner possible."
Sullivan continue said trust can be built between the board members but only in time and with improved communication.
In an interview with the Darien News, Campbell said the reason he refused to let Bayne respond was because the town was tired of hearing them fight.
"There's no value to the town in listening to him and I argue," Campbell said. "Right now, David and Callie are in the minority and they have no desire to work with us. I felt it was time to call them out on it."
"We truly believe that the general public supports what we are doing and we hope that they will change their mind and jump on board," Nielsen said.
Campbell said the two Democratic Selectmen are trying to politicize the way the board functions so that they can say the Republicans didn't accomplish anything in the next election.
"We're just trying to accomplish what's best for the town," Campbell said.
Both Campbell and Nielsen agree that there is the possibility for compromise in the future.
"There could be issues in the future where there could be compromise," Nielsen said. However, he felt that it was appropriate, and necessary, for Campbell to make his statement criticizing David and Callie.
Former First Selectman Evonne Klein said she spent three of her four terms with the Board of Selectmen in the minority.
"As a member of the minority, if you were going to simply vote along party lines you would lose that vote," Klein said.
Klein recalled a letter she received from a former selectman, George Zengo, after her party gained the majority. Zengo encouraged her to not the let majority power go to her head and always vote for the benefit of the town.
"I kept that letter on my desk so that I would see it every day," Klein said.
As for a board that is struggling to meet in the middle, Klein's statement was simple and straightforward.
"A board that is not working together doesn't serve the community," Klein said.
Campbell said he chose to make his statement public because the town needed to be sent a message that meetings were going to be run a certain way.
"They [meetings] need to be more positive and move along to improve the town," Campbell said.
Bayne, in a statement, said he was astonished by Campbell's criticism because he and Callie are questioning Campbell's administration.
"Democratic government is about the free and public exchange of competing ideas and viewpoints. Unfortunately, the First Selectman appears unable to distinguish questions from criticism and dissent from personal attack," the statement read.
Campbell referenced an e-mail that Bayne sent him on March 22 in his report. The e-mail discusses Bayne's views on the division among the Board of Selectmen and the need to work to put the needs of the community first. Bayne's closing remarks in the e-mail stated his hopes that the board could work together.
"I look forward to hearing your thoughts on the foregoing and to working with you and the other Selectmen for the betterment of Darien and its citizens," the e-mail stated. "Together, we can and will continue to make Darien a community in which we can all be proud and ensure that the needs of all our residents are met."
In his statement, Bayne said the first response he got to the March 22 e-mail was during Monday night's meeting.
Campbell said in his statement Monday that he chose not to respond to Bayne's e-mail because of its "hypocrisy."