The Easton Republican Town Committee has a new roster of 28 members that includes returning members and Republicans who expressed interest in joining the committee for the first time.

Raymond Martin, the committee’s new chairman, said the number of Republicans interested in joining the committee exceeded expectations. “The committee has a cross section of Republicans who will work in the town’s best interest to protect and preserve Easton,” Martin said.

In addition to Martin, returning members include former committee chairman Wendy Bowditch, who was elected as vice chair, Lisa Tasi as secretary, John Allan as treasurer, Louis DiPietro as sergeant in arms, and John Miranda as parliamentarian. The other members are Vincent Battaglia, Thomas Bladek, Scott Centrella, Phillip Doremus, Mary Ann Freeman, Raymond Ganim, Darrell Harris, Christine Halloran, Krista Kot, Jake Martin, Raymond Martin III, Pranav Merchant, Gerard O’Brien, Davis Owen Sr., Anthony Possidento, James Riling, Michael Ring, Kevin Rodrigue, Kristi Sogofsky, Alison Sternberg, Joseph Samon, and Jeffrey Parker.

The common goal among new and returning members is to promote community service, foster a sense of community in town, and rise above divisive politics. “We can’t survive as a party with infighting and division,” said newcomer Pranav Merchant. “We need to bridge the divide between the conservative and moderate wing of the party to get things done in Easton.”

Merchant hopes the party can focus on establishment-style politics and push the traditional Republican agenda of less taxes, less government, and pro economic growth.

Another newcomer, Anthony Possidento, said he joined the committee because he was shocked to see that small town politics have become so divisive, and that the proposed measures and views expressed by both political parties have become more extreme.

“I decided to become active after quickly bonding with like- minded individuals through my Facebook page Hey Easton. I plan to reinvigorate the Republican party and direct its focus towards core Republican conservative values and to break the stigma of the extreme right. Hopefully the Democrat party breaks from the extreme left as we want to break from the extreme right,” Possidento said.

Internal divisions between members of the party were evident during the ERTC Jan. 4 caucus. Fellow Republican June Logie, who serves as treasurer of the conservative group Citizens for Responsible Government (CRG), challenged the town committee’s slate of 30 candidates with her own list of 12 names. Her slate was elected at the caucus by a five-to-one margin over the original group of nominated ERTC candidates.

In a prepared statement submitted to the Easton Courier, Logie said she had led the shakeup because “Easton Republicans . . . are dissatisfied with the current ERTC leadership and the direction of the party under its former control.” Logie described her alternative slate of candidates as “new individuals [who] represent a broad spectrum of Republicanism and who are committed to inclusive leadership that will represent and work with all Easton registered Republicans.”

Logie’s slate of candidates never took their seats on the committee because the Republican State Central Committee invalidated the caucus after learning that a change in the caucus venue location wasn’t properly communicated to town Republicans.

Martin, who was ousted at the Jan. 4 ERTC caucus, successfully petitioned with nine other committee members to try to win their seats back through a March 1 primary. But the primary was cancelled because the caucus was invalidated. Martin and the other petitioning candidates became the only legal members of the ERTC, according to GOP bylaws. One petitioning candidate had backed out of the primary, leaving only nine members.

Logie sought a temporary injunction in Bridgeport Superior Court to stop Martin’s committee from taking office on March 9. She and Beverly Dacey, Adele O’Kane, Elizabeth Maiorano and Shari Williams are suing the Republican State Committee. alleging the state GOP  “violated their constitutional rights” by nullifying the caucus results. Williams and O’Kane were among the 12 elected at the caucus. The GOP has asked a Superior Court judge to dismiss the complaint. A final ruling has not been made on the case.

In addition to the 28 members who currently makeup the new ERTC, the committee also has four associate members and will be forming subcommittees to focus on public relations, bylaws, finance/fundraising and voter outreach.

The ERTC is also promoting charitable work and outreach as one of its guiding principles. Alex Ramos, whose charity Square Up for Others addresses food insecurity and homelessness in the Greater Bridgeport area, gave a talk to committee members at its March 24 meeting, Martin said.

“We are looking to make Easton a friendlier community and the world a better place,” Martin said.

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