Gardner, Halstead Try For Taste Of Honey In Democratic District Fight

Here we go. Get ready for several Democratic Town Committee primaries across the city in March. So far five potential district challenge slates have requested petition sheets from election officials to wage primaries including the 132nd District where newly elected school board member Howard Gardner and newly elected to the City Council Bob Halstead have joined forces to try to seize control of the West Side from a veteran slate that includes former City Council President Lisa “Honey” Parziale.

Assuming the challenge slate is certified to run based on securing five percent of signatures from registered Dems in the district this could be a mighty neighborhood fight.

Consent forms have been issued to challenge slates in the North End 135th District, East Side 136th District, East Side 137th District and Upper East Side 138th District, according to election officials.

Some district battles such as the 137th District in the heart of Hispanic politics have been going on for years. But after last September’s primary drubbing of all endorsed Democratic candidates for school board and City Council, insurgents are feeling frisky about district control. Will this translate into more upsets?

Still with a competitive edge, Parziale has been through district wars for decades and won her seat as part of a primary challenge slate in 2008. She knows her district as well anyone and has a voter base she can still count on. John Olson and Evette Brantley, the council members from the district defeated by Halstead and Trish Swain last September, are also on the town committee.

The 132nd District includes the higher-turnout Brooklawn neighborhood, near the Fairfield town line, that votes at Central High School. The district runs below North Avenue to the Bassick voting precinct.

Halstead posted this on Facebook:

“Here we go again! our nine committee district slate consists of: Me, Howard Gardner, Trish Swain, Jessica Materna, Angel Echeverria, Stephon Wynter, Arlene Walsh, Mike Jacques, and Pierre Paige. A smart, mostly young, and diverse group. We seek to be the democrats for change!”

The 90-member Democratic Town Committee covers 10 districts. DTC members conduct party business, select a chairman and endorse candidates for public office. It is part of the so-called “Democratic Machine” that needs to be oiled. Town committee primaries are about as retail as retail can get. Identify your friends and drag them to the polls. The top nine vote producers among all the candidates win election to committee seats. So as many as 18 candidates, nine on each line, could be on the ballot with two competing slates, more with additional challenge slates.

Shortly after the primaries, the committee members will select a chairman. Current chairman Mario Testa was elected in 2008. He was also chairman during the Joe Ganim mayoral years. No word yet if there’s anyone mounting a serious challenge of Testa.



  1. Anyone interested in shaking things up a bit in the 130th please feel free to contact me, Hector Diaz at (203)727-4085. I am meeting with the registrar and picking up petition sheets in the morning.

  2. Rumor has it some of the candidates on the Parziale slate walked Halstead around when he was circulating petitions and even helped get AB’s while working for the BOE challenge slate.
    Talk about biting the hand that feeds you.
    My advice to Halstead and Swain is you had better win the town committee primary if you want to avoid another primary in two years because if you lose there is no way you get the district endorsement.

  3. Lennie,
    You can have more than 18 candidates. You are not limited to two slates.
    When you get a moment, can you post how many signatures are needed to qualify? And when is the deadline for qualifying?

    1. Good question. The endorsed candidates were Brantley/Olson, right? Then it would not be a stretch to think all the 132 TC members were sporting endorsed candidate signs. That really does not mean squat, though. Line B was a strong favorite in all districts irrespective of the endorsements. If one looks at the stats, it does not appear many TC members did too much to support Line A candidates in that primary.

      1. Yes, it appears the TC did not bring out the ABs in support of Halstead and Swain in the 132 as they lost big in the ABs while the Education people won big there. Never let the facts get in the way of a good story, Walsh.

  4. Lennie,
    You talk about Town Chair but as I look at the districts in play I am having a hard time cobbling together a winning combination to wrest control away from Mario. And more importantly to whom? Could this be a total cluster fuck? Challenges did not emerge in districts where they were supposed to leaving too few seats up for grabs or could there be something more subtle in play? Time do smell.


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