Verna Kearney, a 19-year veteran of the city’s Police Department, has a way with words and people. She refers to senior citizens as “recycled teenagers” in her “silver army.”
Verna is one of those optimistic cops. “I believe in giving flowers when they can smell them.” When she’s not on duty Verna donates time at a senior citizens center on Park Avenue. She’s hoping her connection with seniors specifically and voters in general turn up a bouquet of votes on Feb. 22 when a flock of candidates compete to replace Chris Caruso in the state legislature. Kearney enjoys the support of Caruso and State Senator Ed Gomes, among other political activists, two of the highest profile pols in Connecticut’s 126th State Assembly District that includes portions of the North End and Upper East Side. They know where to find the votes. But a special election in this weird winter of record snow poses issues not experienced in traditional elections. For one thing the date, for another the cold, for another the snow.
Verna is among several petitioning candidates who will appear on the ballot. Rev. Charlie Stallworth, a member of the city’s Police Commission and the local interdenominational ministerial alliance that wields votes in the city, has been endorsed by the party led by Democratic Town Chair Mario Testa and Mayor Bill Finch. They don’t want to lose to the Caruso/Gomes coalition, a rival faction of the party.
Lurking is former State Rep. Bob Keeley who was kicked out of office by Auden Grogins in a 2008 Democratic primary. Keeley would love to take back his old state assembly seat that he won in 1982 and held until he was defeated by Caruso in 1990. Two years later, Keeley regained his legislative footing in another district until defeated by Grogins.
In a race that could produce a winner with 300 to 400 votes this really is a jump ball for electors. What campaign operation can best identify and drag voters to polling places Wilbur Cross, Hallen, Read, Hooker and Park City Magnet?
James Keyser has been endorsed by the Republicans. Petitioning candidates City Councilman Carlos Silva, Mark Trojanowski and Tom Lombard fill out the field.
Verna Kearney is taking personal time from the Police Department to campaign in the home stretch. She’s knocking on doors and banging phones, with support of political operatives of Caruso and Gomes, and even interns from Fairfield University.
Seniors love to vote. It’s like a day out on the town. Verna’s hoping enough of those recycled teenagers put her over the top.