For years, Greenwichites from Cos Cob, Riverside, North Mianus, Backcountry, Old Greenwich even Greenwich proper, have repeatedly gone to the polls to return favorite son Fred Camillo to the state legislature. What made Fred so appealing to many voters was his personal story: the local boy made good; a man who has lived in and understands the community. Say what you want about Fred Camillo’s politics, no one would every accuse him of not having Greenwich’s best interests at heart.
But now Fred is our new first selectman, and we need to elect a new state representative this Tuesday. And in this run up to the election, I’ve been hearing about one candidate wanting to “follow in Fred Camillo’s footsteps.” OK, but if that’s what voters are looking for, it’s likely they’re looking in the wrong place.
Because while this race isn’t just about who can be Fred 2.0, Cheryl Moss ticks off all the right boxes most voters are looking for. Born and raised here in Greenwich. Multi-generational local small business owner. Committed to helping the community both as a Representative Town Meeting district chairman and as a passionate volunteer. That’s just one side of the coin, however. With a degree in Economics, Cheryl cut her teeth in banking, but left for jobs in environmental consulting, wanting to make a positive impact on the world. Cheryl is the candidate that Greenwichites know and respect through years of committed local involvement.
Meanwhile, Harry Arora, the man who would be Fred, has given nobody in town any good reason to vote for him except that he’s a Republican, and absolutely NOT a Democrat. Except, he kinda is. Which is weird, because Arora insists that he and his wife’s registering as Democrats in 2008, and then again in 2010, was some kind of mistake. But see, according to public records, while his wife became a Republican in 2012, in 2016 Harry actually voted in the national Democratic primary. I’ve never met anyone who voted in the “wrong” primary by mistake.
Other not particularly good reasons to vote for Harry? Well, he and his enablers want to tout his business acumen and experience, but the biggest names on his resume include leadership positions at Enron and Amaranth Advisors, one of which might just be the greatest criminal business failure, ever. It’s hardly a stretch to say that the collapse of these companies presaged the global economic recession of 2007-2008, in part because of the way they played fast and loose with the rules as well as the truth. Additionally, the detonating of both Enron and Amaranth had direct impacts on Greenwich investors as well as municipal, teacher and other civil service pension funds. Something Connecticut taxpayers are still making up for with increased taxes.
Then there’s Harry’s trashing of our local, non-partisan League of Women Voters with a cocked up story about “impartiality” as a ploy to avoid debating issues with Cheryl. More likely it was to dodge questions about his time as a Democrat or working for a Ponzi scheme. He might also have been asked to defend his questionable assertion that he’s committed to focusing his energies on serving the public good and the community.
Questionable, because there’s no public record of Harry Arora ever doing anything to serve the public good or give back to the community — no volunteer positions, no local board service — between the time he got stomped by Jim Himes in the race for Congress in 2017 and now. Glowing letter to the editor testimonials aside, it doesn’t really seem like Harry cares about being involved in the community. The facts point to him being a carpetbagging Republican of convenience with the typical magic beans approach to jobs and the economy, who likely wants this job only as a stepping-stone to the next big thing.
Greenwich voters have been clear: while we want good “big picture” people in Hartford, we also want representatives who care about our town, who are engaged in our town and who will look out for our town. Just like Fred did. In this race though, the man to pick up that mantle isn’t a man at all. It’s the woman.
David Rafferty is a Greenwich resident.