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GOP: Thornton's Decline in Forum Doesn't Show Leadership

Herbst: “I am disappointed that an my opponent backed out of on the opportunity to discuss important issues with residents of this community.”

The Herbst for Trumbull campaign and the Trumbull Republican Town Committee on Wednesday morning were disappointed that Mary Beth Thornton backed out of a public forum for seniors.

“This was an opportunity for people to engage both myself and my opponent on the issues; I was looking forward to this,” stated First Selectman Tim Herbst. This afternoon at 1:30 p.m., the two candidates were to both appear at a forum at the Huntington Place Senior Community Room, with a question and answer session with Trumbull seniors. 

However, Democratic First Selectman candidate Mary Beth Thornton abruptly canceled because she claimed she was walking into an “ambush.”

However the confusion began last Friday when the Herbst Campaign wanted to ensure that each candidate had an opportunity to speak on the questions asked by the residents and that there be some structure.

“I don’t know what she is afraid of, she resorts to name calling by telling everyone she comes in contact with that I am a bully, that I’m arrogant and that I’m self-serving, yet when we want to ensure that she has a fair opportunity to be heard, she backs out,” stated First Selectman Herbst. The Herbst Campaign reached out to Aaron Leo, the editor to the Patch, as a neutral party to make sure things ran smoothly.

Yesterday, however the Thornton Campaign became enraged not only that a neutral party was involved, but were agitated when informed ahead of time that the Herbst Campaign was considering filming the event.

“People film First Selectman Herbst all the time. When you’re the leader of a town you have to be able to handle pressure. It is troublesome that Mrs. Thornton can’t even handle a group of 40 seniors. What will happen when you have residents demanding all kinds of things? Mrs. Thornton does not seem to be able to handle the pressure of being a First Selectman,” Stated Jack Testani, chairman of the Trumbull RTC.

After several phone calls by Nancy DiNardo trying to convince the organizer she was being used and tricked, the Herbst campaign called Aaron Leo and advised him that based on the Thornton campaign objections, his services would not be needed.

“I wanted this opportunity to have an open and honest discussion about my plans for senior tax relief and how I am going to continue to stabilizing property taxes. I am so sorry for the residents and for the organizer and I attended the event anyway to answer the questions of these seniors,” stated Herbst.

The Herbst Campaign then left a message and emailed the Thornton campaign around 8:30 p.m. The email and the calls were never returned and at 11:00 p.m. Mrs. Thornton issued a press release indicating that she did not want to participate. 

“Based on previous actions, we know that Mary Beth Thornton has a history of bailing out under pressure. She has stormed out of meetings when she doesn’t get her way, she abstains from crucial town votes when she doesn’t want to take a position and this latest incident is yet another example of how Mrs. Thornton does not possess the ability to handle adversity and what she perceives as difficult situations. These are not the characteristics of a good leader, you can’t just take your ball and go home when you’re the First Selectman,” concluded Testani.

J Strouse October 07, 2011 at 10:07 PM
TrumbullParent: With all due respect, I refuse to accept that. MBT could have sent a mailer that spoke to her goals; her objectives; her ideas. It isn't a given that you have to go negative in an election to win. We should aspire to be better than that. But I guess her supporters have different (dare I say double) standards in this regard. I do want to address one of the points in her now infamous mailer. It notes that TH tried to "grab more power" by doubling his own term. Two very specific questions for the most brave among you. 1) Is that reference to the proposed changes in the town charter? and 2) The mailing clearly makes it sound like he's trying to extend his current term; is that true? PLEASE ANSWER.
Richard W. White October 07, 2011 at 10:44 PM
The Town Council passed a resolution for a 4-2 charter revision commission and nominated the four republicans on the same night. The democrats were added at the next meeting. The Town Council provided zero guideance or guidelines as to what was to be considered. At the first CRC meeting, Mr. Herbst offered four or five pages of changes covering each chapter from 1 to last. One of those changes was to increase the length of term for the top three offices from 2 to 4 years -- it's mentioned twice in the minutes. Mr. Herbst did not specify when this change would take place or go into affect; I have no idea what is intent was. The TC has choosen to hold the referendum on charter revision on this coming election and (IIR) the CRC has set the changes to take place 30-days after passage so you are clearly misreading the mailer. Do you really think the CRC would have made changes to existing terms? There are several places where roll-ins were provided over several elections or years. It is interesting that the CRC thought this lengthening of term from 2 to 4 years was such a stretch that they needed to balance the idea with changes to the Town Council. Wisely the TC struck most of this.
Stargazer October 07, 2011 at 11:48 PM
Just want to point out to AFreedman that many women can have "girlfriends" and a husband. Welcome to 2011 Also, with regard to Mrs Thorton walking out of a meeting, she simply decided on her own to leave and if I remember correctly, Rob Pescatore following behind her like a puppy dog - very sad
Joan October 08, 2011 at 12:20 AM
Was she supposed to wait for someone's approval to leave a meeting where an illegal vote was about to be taken? Too bad Mrs. Testani and the other Republican council members didn't have the backbone to do the same. The only one apparently willing to stand up for the rule of our town charter was Mary Beth Thornton, and Mr. Pescatore. (Puppy dog? How disrespectful you are, Stargazer.)
Tiredof October 08, 2011 at 01:20 AM
Why do you keep saying that the GOP got caught? Got caught what? ALl Tim was trying to do was set forth somke rules for the question and answer potion...YOu people either are dense or just ignore facts. WHat exactly to Tim get caught doing...how about the fact that MBT campaign ignored messages and emails? WHAT ABOUT THAT?
Bill Holden October 08, 2011 at 01:51 AM
Richard, You and the people who authorized the ad, including Mrs Thornton, know that state law would not allow a person elected to office to have that term extended. Yes, a term for an office may be increased after a future election but a current term cannot be extended beyond the expiration date as provided for when an office was elected. You also know that the statute says that a charter revision commission may be directed to consider certain items and may also consider other items. A CRC cannot be limited in what it may consider. Finally, the first selectman did supply a multi-page list of suggestions--much of those pages were explanations of suggestions. Members of the public, "ordinary" citizens also presented many ideas for consideration. The CRC considered each proposal. Most were rejected, whether suggested by the first selectman or at the public hearing. A good number of them seemed to be good ideas, but something that should be addressed by legislative act rather than being cast in the Charter. Finally, the Charter questions are on the November ballot, rather than a special election, in the expectation that this would provide for maximum voter participation.
J Strouse October 08, 2011 at 02:18 AM
Thanks. But Tim would have to win this election in order to have an extended term, right? The Thornton mailing was misleading b/c it made it seem that he was trying to extend his current term. And that's not true, right? Assuming I'm right, it really goes to show how misleading the mailing was. And it begs questions regarding all of the other statements. Once again, MBT would have been better off stating clearly her goals and ideas and objectives, rather than spinning messages that were at best negative and misleading. That's unfortunate. And Joan, walking out on anything is never, ever the answer. Period.
Richard W. White October 08, 2011 at 02:21 AM
Mr. Herbst didn't qualify which or whose term he wanted extended he simply wanted the extra two years added to the top three jobs. The CRC felt this needed some balance and the TC (and every single public comment I heard) cut this. This doesn't eliminate the reality that Mr. Herbst wanted a four year term. The TC, with many new republican members, called for a charter revision in their second meeting. IMO, they should have waited a few months, gone through a budget cycle, and given the CRC a few key areas that they wanted addressed. If you'll permit me a question, why midnight? I agree that setting a time to swear in a new team is important and I don't have a problem with the CRC adding this. Why, of all 24 hours in a day, did you settle on midnight?
J Strouse October 08, 2011 at 02:22 AM
Bill, So I was right. The Thornton mailer (now placed firmly in the trash) was really misleading in this regard. Anyone who didn't know better might be led to think that Tim was trying to extend his current term; this is a complete LIE. Thornton should issue an apology.
Kathleen McGannon October 08, 2011 at 02:28 AM
"And Joan, walking out on anything is never, ever the answer. Period." But it WAS the answer. It was an illegal meeting and walking out stopped it. There was no quorum so the vote could not take place. It DID end it!
Richard W. White October 08, 2011 at 02:31 AM
@J Strouse -- we posted at the same time. No, the election after (2013). Maybe the flyer should have said something like: "Mr. Herbst proposed a change to his office that the republican led CRC found problematic and tried to balance with an odd at-large concept that the republican led TC found even more problematic that they, with bipartisan support, struck the entire concept".
J Strouse October 08, 2011 at 02:33 AM
Richard, but this proposed extension would apply to whoever won the election. I have confirmed this. So MBT could have been the beneficiary of this as well. Why midnight for swearing in? I have no idea. Why not? What does it matter? Do we all not take ourselves a little too seriously sometimes. Let's focus on what matters. In my humble opinion, it's the economy. (Who said...it's the economy, stupid? Mr. Clinton, I believe.) The last thing we can afford is an increase in our taxes. And if MBT wins, I can only imagine how long it will take for someone to knock on my door so they can reassess my home. Mark my words. And before you know it, we'll all being paying more to support increased spending. Probably like you, I think I give too much of my hard earned dollars away to the government. I can't be forced to give any more.
Bill Holden October 08, 2011 at 02:35 AM
If anyone felt it was an illegal meeting and planned to walk out, why did they bother to show up? Dare I guess, "politics?" Enough no shows would also have prevented a quorum.
J Strouse October 08, 2011 at 02:40 AM
Ms. McGannon, So we have a different opinion in this regard. I don't ever believe in walking out; be it a disagreement, a debate, or a real genuine argument. Heck... even when my wife and I argue, we're always sure to hug and make-up before we go to bed. Walking out on anything always reminds me of the child who picked up their ball and went home because they didn't like the way the game was being played. I just wish I could pull that child aside...and beg him or her to stick it out...to face the issue head on. That's called courage. Heros are made of it.
Richard W. White October 08, 2011 at 02:44 AM
I hate to break it to you, but there is a reval going on right now -- Mr. Herbst's watch. It should have happened last year, but it was postponed. Guess when the results will be in? Hint: same week as the sewer assessment.
J Strouse October 08, 2011 at 02:45 AM
Richard, Thanks. So the rule would not have extended the term until two years later (when TH may or may not be FS)? Wow. Even longer than I thought. Clearly not the way the MBT mailer made it sound. I bet we all could agree to that. Look... it's one thing to attack. I don't like it. But it seems like that's the way it's going. But to attack with such misleading statements... is wrong. It's one thing for all of us on this site to get it wrong; it's quite another when one of our candidate APPROVES a message that is wrong. We expect and deserve better. Thanks, Richard, for the back and forth. Have a good night.
Richard W. White October 08, 2011 at 02:46 AM
There were other legitimate items on the agenda. Aren't there enough republicans to form a quorum of there own? How many times have we heard during CRC that not showing up to vote is a vote in and of itself?
Bill Holden October 08, 2011 at 02:53 AM
No Richard, Tim did not propose extending the term for his office. He proposed extending the term of office of first selectman. A change that would take effect for the 2013 election. Neighboring municipalities of Bridgeport, Stratford & Fairfield had adopted 4 year terms since our Chater was last revised and the idea had "some" merit. Four commission members had a fear of some future first selectman having too much influence. Three of us talked one night and came up with what we thought would allow for the attributes of a 4 year term while enabeling a Council to halt a first selectman. This was patterned after the 2010 election when voters put the brakes on Obama's ability to use Pelosi & Reed to push through almost anything he wanted. No 4 year term, no need for at large Council members. Simple. But that's not what the mailer said. The TDTC and Mary Beth Thornton, who approved the mailer, LIED when they said (twice in the same mailer) that Tim tried to double his term.
Richard W. White October 08, 2011 at 03:17 AM
Mr. Herbst never specified when this was to take place. "his office" " the office of first selectman", if you and J Strouse want to play sentance parsing games, knock yourselves out. The point of the item in the mailer as I read it is that Mr. Herbst attempted to extend the office of first selectman from two to four years. An idea so illconsevied that the CRC had to adjust with the at-large scheme and the town council had to reject the entire concept.
Richard W. White October 08, 2011 at 03:24 AM
J Strouse -- my question about the midnight (not a secret anymore if it's going to be in the charter) swearing in was an aside as I indicated, but it was legitimate. I've clearly answered you question tonight. If you can't answer mine, then don't.
Bill Holden October 08, 2011 at 03:25 AM
Richard, that's BS they you're trying to pull off. Quote from the mailer: "Tim Herbst has abused the public trust by: Trying to grab more power by changing the Town Charter to extend his term from two to four years," Absolute lying sack of horse manure in that mailer.
Joan October 08, 2011 at 12:34 PM
No, you have it wrong. If the town council is going to take a vote on a veto by the First Selectman that is not allowed by our town charter, then it sets a bad precedent for the future. Therefore, leaving the meeting was the only way to maintain the integrity of our town charter. It has nothing at all in common with having an argument with your wife. It took courage for Mary Beth Thornton to walk out of that meeting. We need someone like her who has enough respect for our town government to take a stand for the citizens of Trumbull.
J Strouse October 08, 2011 at 01:43 PM
Richard, Bill is exactly right. The mailer claimed in bold faced print that he was trying to extend his term. He doesn't own a term that he hasn't won. These changes wouldn't take effect until 2013. So this statement in the mailer is misleading. In fact, I'd go as far as to say that it's a lie. It's not about parsing anything. It's about being honest and direct. Pretty awful if you ask me, and I know the people of this town see right through it. MBT's mailer did more harm than good. I assure you of that. What is your question? The midnight question? I answered that I don't know. Did you not see that?
gail jarvis October 08, 2011 at 03:07 PM
All these citizen debates--the ones we are having with each other on this forum--is great. BUT we NEED to have a DEBATE with Herbst and Thornton. There are many many of us that want to hear from THEM and not always from each. Election Day is Coming. The candidates should be ready for Prime Time!!!
Afreedman2011 October 09, 2011 at 03:52 AM
Please read the article in tomorrow's Connecticut Post setting forth in detail the attempts made by the Herbst family to intimidate Trumbull citizens in the exercise of their free speech rights. The Ct. Post captures the nastiness and intimidation that has come to Trumbull during the last two years. http://www.ctpost.com/local/article/Political-tempest-in-Trumbull-is-spurred-by-2209282.php
Thomas Tesoro October 09, 2011 at 03:55 AM
Actually, Stargazer if you read Ms. Thornton's Priorities for Education you will find a clearly articulated set of both priorities and approaches on how to continue our fine education system. Ms. Thornton clearly understands that you can't keep doing the same things over and over and expect different results. She will employ outside experts to identify savings, involve the stakeholders in the process of achieving the savings and use those savings to restore programs, implement Full Day Kindergarten, and the like. Clear to me, how about others? Finally as to Mrs. Testani, I don't think Iwas at all harsh however, if Mrs. testani thinks so, I mostcertainly will apologize as that was not my intent. However, as I said, I think she knows that.
Thomas Tesoro October 09, 2011 at 03:57 AM
Ms. Thornton has asked for debates and is looking to Organizations like the League of Woman Voters and the Trumbull Times to fix the dates. As of this morning I know discussions are underway.
louis October 09, 2011 at 05:04 PM
This is among the top 100 greatest moments of my life...160 comments for one article...my friend....me thinks....your gonna get a budget increase!
gail jarvis October 09, 2011 at 05:30 PM
The Articles, the Follow up Comments, The "playground banter" from the Adults. Are we still going to vote "Personality"!!!! Trumbull, Ct.--is part of the State of Ct. and The USA. and part of the world money organization. In other words--we have alot of problems now and future. I want a Public Debate with these candidates. Isn't it obvious we are only debating each other !?
Carol Hudak October 10, 2011 at 09:49 PM
Debates are scheduled, Gail. This was never scheduled as a debate, but Mr. Herbst would clearly rather have a 'debate' in front of a hand picked senior audience than in front of the PTA. Oh Jack, Mark, tell us the date of the PTA debate so we can all mark it on our calendars. Thanks!

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