The State Elections Enforcement Commission this week voted to investigate complaints brought by outgoing City Councilmen Angel DePara and Carlos Silva accusing the September 10 Democratic primary winners in the 136th District Richard DeJesus and Alfredo Castillo of a variety of campaign violations including improper collection of petitioning signatures to qualify for the ballot and challenging DeJesus’ voting residence in defiance of the City Charter. Read the complaint here.
From the City Charter:
At the city election in the odd-numbered years, two council members shall be elected from each aldermanic district by the electors of the city residing in such district and council members shall be residents and electors in the district which they represent. No resident of one council district shall vote for a council person of any district other than that in which he/she is registered.
DeJesus, according to local election voting records, moved into the 136th District that includes the East Side and The Hollow neighborhoods after the September 10 primary and before the November 5 general election.
In a story published in the Connecticut Post July 15, DeJesus said although he was a resident of the adjoining 137th District he would move into the district he sought to serve if he won. Connecticut law requires winners of state office, for instance State House and State Senate, to move into respective districts once they are seated. They need not reside in the district office they seek as challengers. The complaint brought by DePara and Silva claim a different standard applies to candidates for City Council, according to the City Charter.
This gets into a fuzzy area. Does the intent of the City Charter language apply to primaries, or just general elections?
The complaint brought by DePara and Silva also claims voting records show a pattern of DeJesus’ voting addresses conflicting with districts in which he’s required to cast a ballot.
It’s unclear the resolution the outgoing council members are seeking. The SEEC has no statutory authority to vacate an election. That power rests with the courts.
Last month, however, the state commission urged Connecticut’s chief state’s attorney to investigate possible criminal violations of election law against State Rep. Christina Ayala and her mother Democratic Registrar Sandi Ayala.
DePara and Silva, veterans on the council, were caught up in the September 10 primary tsunami that swept away all endorsed candidate for City Council and school board. DePara occupied an important role as co-chair of the Budget and Appropriations Committee.