Editor's note: Update at end of article, 10:27 a.m.:
For over a month, Democrats have been grumbling that Republicans seem to be using Town Hall as a storage spot for GOP political campaign signs, but First Selectman Jayme Stevenson says she didn't get wind of it until Thursday, when a reporter questioned her about them.
"Town Hall should be where the town's business gets done, not a political party's business gets done," Klein said. "I don't know when those signs were initially put there, but it's just not right. Town Hall should not be a depository for political signs."
"They should not be there," she said. "I will find out where they are and will have them removed."
Stevenson said she assumed the signs were left in Town Hall inadvertently. "One of the political campaigns probably left them behind."
The signs were still in the auditorium until just before the Darien League of Women Voters and other groups conducted a candidate's debate last Tuesday, Klien said he was told. League members removed them.
Klein said he received a number of complaints about the Town Hall Auditorium apparently being used as a kind of depot or warehouse for the signs.
At least initially, he said, "I didn't pursue it as vigorously as perhaps I should have."
He said he asked the Democratic State Central Committee headquarters in Hartford about it, and they suggested he contact the state elections commission. He spoke to an official there, who said there didn't seem to be any specific violation of state law, but suggested Klein follow up with the town attorney.
"I did bring this to his attention, I think it was last week," Klein said. "I haven't heard back from him yet."
"I don't recall being asked about it," Stevenson said Thursday afternoon when asked about the signs. "I'm genuinely unaware of what you're talking about."
A copy of an email sent by Jan Raymond to Stevenson on Oct. 10 was provided to Darien Patch by someone other than Klein (or Raymond).
"I just returned from a public hearing in the auditorium at Town Hall," Raymond wrote. "I was somewhat dismayed to see stacks of lawn signs for Linda McMahon and Obsitnik in the auditorium.
"I know that you are working hard for Linda's election and on that we will have to agree to disagree. However, I do not think it is appropriate for ANY campaign use a public space like the Town Hall auditorium as a satellite campaign office. I hope you will ask the respective campaigns to find a more appropriate storage place."
Klein said Raymond had told him early this week that Stevenson had never responded to the email. But Stevenson said she never saw it.
Didn't see it
"If there's an email I didn't see, that's certainly my fault," Stevenson said, "but—I'm sorry—I'm not aware of it, to be honest."
Klein, or anyone, should have just gotten in touch with her, Stevenson said.
"I don't know why Randy Klein called the town attorney as opposed to leaving a message in my office," she said. Taking up the town attorney's time costs the town money, she pointed out.
"It's pretty simple," Stevenson said. "Call me. I'll call around. I'll find the signs, and I'll get rid of them."
Update 10:27 a.m.:
Klein sent the following statement this morning to Darien Patch:
1. My first call was last Tuesday 10/16 to the State Elections Enforcement Commission. They instructed me to contact town counsel.
2. Before doing so they advised me to contact Ted Bromley, which I did immediately after speaking to the SEEC. Mr. Bromley is a Staff Attorney in the Elections Department in the Secretary of State’s Office who also advised me to contact Town Counsel. I was never advised to contact the First Selectman’s office. A community member had already done so via email several weeks before and was ignored.
3. Immediately after my conversation with Mr.Bromley on Tues 10/16, as instructed, I called and left a message with Town Counsel. Town Counsel called me back the next day. We spoke for 6-7 minutes. He informed me he would look into it and get back to me.
4. I am pleased that the First Selectwoman agrees with all those officials I spoke with that this is an unacceptable use of town property.
5. As the First Selectwoman must know the Town Attorney is on retainer. As Democratic Town Committee Chairman, it is perfectly appropriate, as advised, I contact Town Counsel directly. If the inquiry I made to the Town Counsel exceeded his contract and retainer fee I will be happy to pay for his time.