A heated argument between Waterford’s head moderator and a state Senate candidate erupted today after the moderator took down the candidate’s political sign at , saying it violated zoning regulations.
Waterford’s master moderator for the primary, Cheryl Larder, took down a sign by Republican state Senate candidate Mike Doyle at Town Hall after Town Clerk Bob Nye complained it violated the town’s zoning regulations. Nye and Larder are both Democrats, and Doyle said the complaint was politically-driven.
“It’s illegal,” Doyle said. “And it just so happens the master moderator is a Democrat.”
Nye and Larder both decried that charge, and provided Doyle with the Waterford zoning regulation backing up their decision. Doyle was the only candidate to have a sign up at Town Hall who was not on today's primary ballot, and a town zoning regulation states people can only put up political signs 60 days before the “respective matter is to be decided.”
Doyle is running against Democrat Andrea Stillman for the state Senate in the 20th District in November. Nye and Larder both said his election is more than 60 days away, and therefore he cannot have his sign up.
“It is not politically motivated,” Larder said. “I am following the regulations.”
At around 11 a.m., Nye complained to Larder that Doyle had a sign at Town Hall with the other political signs. Doyle, as mentioned, is not on the primary ballot – unlike every other candidate who had a sign posted at Town Hall – and should not be able to post his sign, Nye said.
“Doyle is not on today’s ballot,” Nye said. “His election is not within 60 days.”
Waterford’s zoning regulations state that candidates can put up their signs “not more than 60 days before the date on which the respective matter is to be decided.”
Larder agreed, saying the sign violated the town’s regulations and took it down.
Doyle was furious with the decision, confronting Larder in Waterford’s registrar’s office. The two both raised their voices in a heated confrontation; with Doyle saying he was being stricken of his rights and Larder saying she was following the rules.
After the argument, Larder pointed out that earlier today she told a person wearing a shirt showing support for Democrat Susan Bysiewicz to leave Town Hall. She again insisted it was not political and she was doing her job.
Doyle got on the phone with lawyers and the Connecticut Republican Party. At last check, Larder was on the phone with Waterford Town Attorney Rob Avena.
The regulations also state that political signs should not be erected on “any publicly owned property, building, or structure.” There are political signs at Waterford Town Hall and all three Waterford elementary schools, the town’s four polling locations, which are all publicly-owned properties.
Doyle has signs up at the other polling locations as well.
Patch will continue to update this story.