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Ledyard council rejects Democratic committee pick for opening

Ledyard — A woman who led a protest against a member of the Town Council two months ago has failed in an effort to join the council herself.

With a 7-1 vote, town councilors on Wednesday night rejected Nicole Cruz-Glacken as a potential pick to fill the remaining few months of Democrat Anthony Sabilia's term. Sabilia stepped down, as he and his family are moving to Waterford.

The Democratic Town Committee had recommended Cruz-Glacken for the council vacancy, and she would have joined Mary McGrattan and William Saums as the third Democrat on the nine-member panel. McGrattan was the only councilor to support Cruz-Glacken's appointment; Saums said he supported another candidate.

Cruz-Glacken has been critical of the Town Council, specifically Republican Andra Ingalls, after her response to Cruz-Glacken's suggestion that the council's Community Relations Committee undergo cultural competency training or host a social justice speaker. Ingalls' response that a counterperspective also be offered prompted Cruz-Glacken to organize a protest at Town Hall, calling for Ingalls to step down from the committee, which was echoed by the Democratic Town Committee.

The Community Relations Committee ultimately decided not to pursue Cruz-Glacken's suggestions, saying that wasn't part of its mission statement.

Town Council Chairwoman Linda Davis said the Community Relations Committee has worked in an effective bipartisan manner for many years, and wants to see that continue. She said Cruz-Glacken should have reached out to Ingalls for clarification and understanding regarding her comments, instead of organizing a protest and demanding she step down from the committee.

"I want to work on a Town Council that works cooperatively," Davis said. "I don't want to worry about repercussions if there's a difference of opinion. I want to work with councilors who will communicate with each other, rather than on social media."

Ann Holland, who also was part of the protest, told the council on Wednesday the demonstration at Town Hall "wasn't meant to be argumentative, but to bring awareness to what the Town Council was discussing (about racial issues), because not a lot of people knew about this." She said people were listening to the council meetings expecting answers, and never got any.

"No response to our e-mails, or other contacts," she said. "What is our expectation of our elected officials, if you're not going to communicate with us? We're going to form our own ideas," she added.

Ingalls reiterated her thoughts on the dangers of cultural competency training during the meeting, noting an African American friend of hers, who is the chairman of a school math department in another state, is "devastated" after being told to adjust student grading standards downward, all due to cultural competency training.

Saums said before the vote that the council received more than 26 letters supporting Cruz-Glacken's nomination — many of them from people whom he highly respects. "I believe Nicole is a fine person," he said. "I'm sure she'd be a great addition to the Town Council. But neither political party's town committee has the right to force the Town Council to choose a replacement."

Cruz-Glacken didn't speak during the public comment portion of Wednesday's virtual meeting, but did post "We've been devastated!" in the meeting's chat room after the vote was taken.

Ledyard Democratic Town Committee Chairman Marty Wood said he's "dismayed and shocked" at the decision by the Town Council not to name Cruz-Glacken to the panel. He called it a "sad week for democracy in Ledyard," and said her nomination was supported by many Democrats in town.

He said the committee will be meeting over the next few days to "review its options" to nominate a new candidate.

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