Attorney wants results voided
Baldwin filed the brief July 27. He has been instructed by First Selectman Mike Tetreau to “cease and desist” any representation of the town or the Board of Selectmen, claiming he has not been authorized by the board to proceed with an appeal of the special election.
Democrats collected signatures to force a special election, after Republican Selectman Laurie McArdle resigned in December, one year into a four-year term. Her seat was filled by Bateson, via an appointment by Tetreau, a Democrat, and Republican Selectman Chris Tymniak.
When Tyminak and Bateson refused to set a date for a special election, a group of five Democrats turned to the courts. Superior Court Judge Barbara Bellis ruled the election must be held and set June 6 as the date. Baldwin, a former Republican Town Committee chairman who had been acting as a legal advisor to the RTC, argued that the town charter only allows for a special election if the vacancy is not filled within 30 days.
Baldwin was appointed to represent the town is a special meeting called by Tymniak and Bateson, after Tetreau had already named an attorney to do so.
In his brief, Baldwin, who has already billed the town for more than $55,000, wrote that they “respectfully request that this Court vacate the trial court’s judgment in favor of the Plaintiffs, void the June 6, 2017 election and remand the case for a determination that the vacancy of Selectman for the Town of Fairfield was duly filled, pursuant to the Town Charter, by the appointment of the Defendant Bateson to that position and order the reinstatement of Bateson to his rightful position on the Board.”
According to Baldwin, the charter’s language is that the special election procedure in state statutes is only used if the vacancy is not filled. The word, “if,” Baldwin argues, is the “condition precedent ‘if’ because it establishes when, if ever, the General Statutes are to be invoked.”
He said neither the plaintiffs, nor Tetreau, presented any evidence to support their assertion that if a stay was in place, following Bellis’ original ruling, that it should be lifted. Baldwin said the defendants, however, “argued that there was currently a state of chaos and uncertainty permeating the entire election process and that irreparable harm could be done if the stay was lifted..”
Bellis ordered any stay lifted on May 4.
By that time, both parties had already selected their candidates — Kevin Kiley for the Democrats and Bateson for the Republicans. Bateson declined to participate in two different candidate forums, citing the stay, although he did host fundraisers. Kiley received 5,437 votes to Bateson’s 3,657, and won in all but two of the town’s 10 districts..
Baldwin argues not only was Bellis in error in determining a special election needed to be held, but erred when she lifted any automatic stay.
“On June 6, 2017, with the stay lifted, the town proceeded with the special election,” Baldwin’s brief states. “Because the defendant Bateson refrained from campaigning due to the existence of the stay, it was no surprise that he lost the election. It was simply too late for Bateson to recover from the damage caused by Tetreau’s delay in filing the motion to the terminate the stay. As a result, the electors of the town of Fairfield were deprived of an open and unfettered discourse between the opposing candidates.”
“We are hopeful that Judge Bellis' wise decision will be upheld by the Appellate Court, and the will of the voters will be honored,” attorney William Burke, who represents the plaintiffs, said.
“On June 6, the people of Fairfield spoke loud and clear in the election of Kevin Kiley with almost 60 percent of the vote,” Sheinberg said. “The Fairfield Republican Party continues to obstruct the rule of law, and the will of the voters to decide who will be their selectman’
He said the appeals have not been authorized by the Board of Selectmen, and should not be paid for by the taxpayers.