Smart Growth for Vernon, CT
DiDio, former councilman, chosen to lead Dems

By Jason Rowe
Journal Inquirer
March 1, 2006

VERNON - A former Town Councilman has been tapped to serve as chairman of the Democratic Town Committee.

Thomas A. DiDio, who served on the Town Council for several months last year, was chosen unanimously Tuesday night by town Democrats to lead the party through the next municipal election cycle.

DiDio, 54, will complete the term of town Chairman David A. Chmielecki, who died in January after a lengthy battle with cancer.

Although state law will require another election to be held this month, DiDio said he expects to be chosen for a full two-year term.

DiDio said the party would be busy over the next few weeks deciding which Democratic candidate to endorse for the gubernatorial election.

On Tuesday, both New Haven Mayor John DeStefano Jr. and Stamford Mayor Dannel P. Malloy - the two Democrats looking to challenge Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell in November - spoke to the committee during a "Meet the Candidates Night" at Town Hall.

DiDio said the committee hosted the event so party members could get to know both candidates so they would be better informed when they meet on March 22 to make their selection.

As for the next two years, DiDio said he would like to see the committee reach out to townspeople and get their suggestions for how local government could be improved.

"That's going to be my objective, to get as much input as we can and come up with a vision to help our community," DiDio said. "I feel we have a number of plans and programs in place that will help us."

DiDio said he was honored to be succeeding Chmielecki, who he called a teacher and a mentor.

"Dave was a tremendous leader," DiDio said. "He was someone I looked up to and all of us looked up to. It's an honor to try and fill his shoes."

DiDio became a member of the Town Council last July after the June resignation of Democratic Councilman Pat S. Beron.
Before he was chosen by the Democratic Town Committee and the Town Council to succeed Beron, DiDio served as chairman of the Community First Committee, created by Mayor Ellen L. Marmer in November 2003.

In forming the committee, Marmer said she wanted the group to solicit suggestions to make the town whole and unite citizens to make positive changes in the community.

As chairman of the committee, DiDio worked to drum up support for bond referendums by handing out fliers and coordinating phone banks.

But DiDio's efforts to win re-election to the Town Council fell short in November when he narrowly lost the election to fellow Democrat Connie A. Simon.

Although Simon's margin of victory - 28 votes - would have allowed him to call for a recount, DiDio waived that right.
Several high-profile Democrats said Tuesday that the party is in good hands with DiDio at the helm.

"He has a lot of knowledge about what the community needs," Democratic Town Councilman Bill Fox said.

Fox said DiDio's experience on the Community First Committee would be a benefit to the town committee.

And Democratic Councilwoman Marie A. Herbst said DiDio's organizational skills and likeable personality would help draw new people in to the town committee.

"I think he is going to make a fabulous chairman," Herbst said. "He has a tremendous command of language and he's a very hard working person. He's going to make a great leader."

©Journal Inquirer 2006