MERIDEN — Democrats will look for candidates to fill the Area 1 City Council seat vacated by Miguel Castro, who resigned this week to attend to family matters following his May 23 arrest on domestic violence charges.
Under the City Charter, the City Council is responsible for appointing someone to fill the vacancy. Town committees traditionally solicit and vet candidates before recommending someone to councilors, and local parties traditionally don’t challenge other party’s nominees, Council Majority Leader David Lowell said.
“I think each party respects the other party’s responsibility to vet a candidate and bring them forward,” Lowell said. “... I’m sure the town committee will do their due diligence, and the (Democratic) caucus and other parties will do what we have to do.”
The person chosen to replace Castro must be a registered Democrat and reside in Area 1, which generally covers the inner-city. Under the charter, any person appointed to fill an elected vacancy can serve through the remainder of that person’s unfinished term or until the next municipal election, whichever comes first. Castro was serving a four-year term and would have been up for re-election in the next municipal election, in November 2021.
Democratic Town Chairwoman Millie Torres-Ferguson doesn’t currently have any candidates in mind for Area 1. She doesn’t have a timetable for recommending a fill-in but would like to appoint someone sooner rather than later.
Police arrested Castro, 50, after he was accused of assaulting his 18-year-old daughter on May 23 at his home at 51 Bradley Ave. Police charged him with disorderly conduct and third-degree strangulation, a class A misdemeanor. A judge last week issued a protective order for Castro’s daughter. Castro has denied the charges and told the Democratic Town Committee that he needed to step down to be with his family.
Lowell and Torres-Ferguson were among those who had urged Castro to resign, and the Democratic Town Committee passed a resolution denouncing all domestic violence and supporting Castro’s resignation.
“Miguel’s decision was the absolute best decision for the council, and I believe it was the best decision for Miguel and his personal life,” Lowell said. He looks forward to having someone new in the seat and hopes Castro’s resignation will eliminate “unnecessary distractions” going forward.
Democratic leaders described Castro’s time as a councilor, which began in 2012, as complicated because while he formed many positive relationships with constituents and businesses in Area 1 and regularly attended community events, members of Castro’s party have asked him to resign publicly or privately over several incidents dating back to 2017.
Notably, Torres-Ferguson and Lowell issued a joint statement calling on Castro to resign after learning Castro asked the city’s video production contractor to edit a video recording of a council subcommittee meeting to remove what Castro considered an embarrassing exchange with the committee chairman. At the time, Torres-Ferguson cited a pattern of Castro using his elected office to coerce others. Later that year, Castro was charged with assaulting judicial marshals during a 2018 immigration protest outside the Meriden courthouse, however, those charges were dropped in November.
If Castro had remained on the council, Lowell believes it could have undermined the council’s work.
“I think (Castro’s) number of incidents calling into question the decision making process and brushes with the law have created a distraction for the caucus, the council, and would call into question the credibility of the (decisions),” he said.
Castro told the Democratic Town Committee he plans to continue advocating in the community for causes important to him, including rights of undocumented people, equality for the LGBTQ community, and domestic violence prevention.
Members of the party thanked Castro for his service and commended his decision to resign.
“You clearly put 500% into your job as a city councilor, and I just want you to know that it’s appreciated,” said Democrat Mike Quinn, also the city’s corporation counsel and a candidate for state representative. “You’re to be thanked and congratulated for doing such a good job. Hopefully some day you can come back.”
Correction: An earlier version of this story misidentified Democrat Mike Quinn as a member of the Democratic Town Committee.