By Fran Wilson, Staff Writer
As governor-elect Dan Malloy fills vacancies in his incoming administration, minorities wait patiently to see signs of political gratitude for his winning the governor’s race with the help of solid support from urban communities across the state. So far, there’s no sign of that, onlookers say.
Last month, Connecticut State Conference of NAACP Branches’ President Scott Esdaile released a statement about the lack of diversity on Malloy’s transition team, saying it was “a slap in the face to all of the urban areas in the state of Connecticut.”
Esdaile added: “Clearly, Dan Malloy would not have been elected if the minority communities did not come out in record numbers on Election Day. Only time will tell, but we demand substantial representation at the table.”
Malloy’s early administrative appointments also lack diversity as he selects close advisors with long working and personal relationships that go back for decades.
Malloy tapped Stamford Sen. Andrew McDonald to become general counsel and East Haven Rep. Michael Lawlor to be appointed undersecretary for criminal justice policy and planning at the Office of Policy and Management, according to a recent announcement.
Both McDonald and Lawlor are Catholic and high-profiled members of the General Assembly.
Others chosen to fill vacancies include Roy Occhiogrosso as Malloy’s senior adviser. Occhiogrosso will oversee communications and provide advice on media relation and other matters.
Malloy touted their extensive leadership in government.
“Their acceptance of these offers will allow me to rely on a senior leadership team in my office ripe with experience inside and outside of state government,” Malloy said in a statement.
Other appointments also include Malloy’s running mate, Nancy Wyman. Wyman was named deputy OPM secretary. Deputy Comptroller Mark Ojakian was named an adviser to Comptroller and public policy and advocacy director for the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities, Gian-Carl Casa, was named undersecretary for legislative affairs. OPM employee, Ann Foley, was appointed undersecretary for policy development and planning.
Esdaile’s comment is seen as a strategic move on his part as he prepares for re-election in October. Esdaile’s challenger, Russell Williams of Hartford, said the NAACP has been largely silent on the issue of economic inequities and injustice in the state.
“They NAACP is losing its focus,” Williams said to The Hartford Guardian in a telephone interview. “It is allowing disparities and inequities to persist in Connecticut.”
Ernie Newton of Bridgeport, who posted his comment on OnlyinBridgeport.com, said he supported Esdaile’s early press release about Malloy’s pick for top posts.
“I think Scott has a right to question Governor-elect Malloy. If it had not been for the urban vote, the Democratic Party would have lost the election. Congressman Himes would have lost–and Governor-elect Malloy would have lost,” Newton writes. “Out of all the people named so far to his transition team, none of them could have motivated our communities to come out in record numbers to vote for the Democratic party. All one has to do is look at the numbers.”